By Shane Bacon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 18, 2004
The Arizona women's golf team headed into its final stroke play event of the fall hoping for a spark plug to carry them to the spring semester.
That spark came in the likes of junior Cassandra Kirkland, who posted her best round as a Wildcat by finishing the tournament in a tie for second place.
Kirkland's second round 67 is the best score by a Wildcat since Lorena Ochoa posted a 66 in 2002.
Arizona struggled as a team, however, finishing in ninth place at the Stanford Pepsi Intercollegiate. Arizona State took the tournament the title in Palo Alto, Calif.
The Wildcats went into the event bumped and bruised and it showed, as junior Lani Elston had to withdraw during Saturday's second round after persistent back pains.
With only four players on the lineup for the last two rounds, Arizona was forced to take a 13-over par 83 on Saturday.
Arizona battled back Sunday, closing with a 291 - 16 shots better than its Saturday round.
"I'm really pleased with our effort on Sunday," head coach Greg Allen said. "We didn't hold up to the pressure of only four golfers on Saturday, but yesterday was much better."
Kirkland's runner-up performance was only equaled at the Dr. Thompson Rainbow Invitational when she was a freshman.
"Cassandra put herself in a situation to win the golf tournament, and that is certainly good news," Allen said.
Kirkland began Sunday's final round 3-under through five holes, but struggled on her way in and closed with an even par round of 70 to finish at 3-under par for the tournament.
She was the only Arizona golfer to finish in the top 30, with Mariam Kraschinski finishing in a tie for 35th place.
Allen said that during the second round, Elston could barely take the club back without intense back pains.
"Lani strained a muscle Monday in workouts and it continually got worse throughout the week," he said. "It got to a point on Saturday where she couldn't even take a full swing."
Elston, who has played in the No. 1 spot for the Wildcats in three tournaments this year, was greatly missed because of her continually consistent play, Allen said.
"With Lani in the lineup we usually can count on a solid round," Allen said. "She is so consistent with her driver and doesn't miss a lot of greens."
The Wildcats only have the Hooters Collegiate Match Play Championships remaining on their fall schedule, with their next stroke play tournament almost four months away.
Arizona has carded only two top 10 finishes including this past weekend's performance and have only cracked the top five once in four tournaments.