Freshman Baena 'spectacular' at tourney

By Jacinda Sweet

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona women's golf team has a pretty good idea of what it takes to be a championship contender.

Finishing sixth at the Rolex Fall Preview Women's Collegiate Tournament last weekend, the Wildcats are aware they have the talent to be No. 1.

After ending the first round in 16th place, UA rebounded, shooting a 297 and 300 in the final two rounds to place sixth in the field of 19.

"We stumbled getting out of the blocks," UA assistant coach Tom Brill said. "Our goal after the first round was to finish in the top five, and we finished sixth. We rebounded and played like we were supposed to, and I'm happy that we performed better."

The Wildcats placed third highest among the seven Pacific 10 Conference teams, behind first-place UCLA and second-place Arizona State.

"The Pac-10 is the best conference in the country," UA head coach Rick LaRose said. "To play in the Pac-10, you have to be one of the top 10 in the country. And when you have the No. 1 and 2 teams in your conference, that's pretty good."

Enthusiasm is high because of the strong team showing, and individually, the Wildcats illustrated last weekend they can finish at the top.

Freshman Maria Baena tied for eighth at 221 after shooting a 75 in the final round.

"This was her first college tournament," LaRose said. "We are very proud of her."

"She bordered on spectacular the final two rounds," Brill said. "The 69 (in the second round) was a great effort."

Sophomore Heather Graff tied for 11th at 222 after shooting a 71 in the final round.

UA golfers Krissie Register, Christina Tolerton and Brenna Cepelak all recorded modest scores for the first tournament.

"Brenna has made changes in her game," Brill said. "With a new swing, it's going to take some time before she's comfortable and confident enough to use this swing under pressure.

"She's our co-captain and team leader. She'll be back."

The Wildcats travel to Albuquerque, N.M., Sept. 28-30 to compete in the Dick McGuire Invitational.

The top teams competing in the tournament include UCLA, Texas, Florida and New Mexico.

"New Mexico will be tough on their own course," Brill said. "This will be our first time seeing Florida, who is always tough."

Arizona has a good chance of doing well in the tournament, though the team knows there are areas it can get better in.

"Our short game needs improvement," Brill said. "We also need to work hard on chipping, putting, and pitching."

Said LaRose: "To be successful, we need to shoot lower scores, and be more consistent."

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