By Curtis Acosta
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The air of disappointment at the North Randolph Golf Course was so thick Wildcat fans were choking on it. After high expectations for performing well at its only home tournament of the season, the Arizona women's golf team finished ninth at the Arizona Invitational.
The Wildcats rebounded from a poor opening round Monday to draw within 10 strokes of second place after Tuesday. Unfortunately for assistant coach Tom Brill, however, that would be as close as the team would get. Top-ranked Arizona State won the tournament, and blitzed the star-studded field. The second- place South Carolina Gamecocks finished 48 strokes behind the Sun Devils.
Arizona freshman sensation Heather Graff had another frustrating tournament. The team's top finisher in the fall finished tied for 38th. Even with the difficult start to the season, Graff remains optimistic.
"I'm making the changes and being positive about it," Graff said. "I think we're going to be ready."
The Sun Devils also claimed the individual championship. Heather Bowie won the individual crown, just a stroke ahead of ASU teammate Wendy Ward. The Sun Devils dominated the tournament with five of their golfers finishing in the top nine positions.
Brenna Cepelak was again the top finisher for the Wildcats, by concluding the tournament tied for tenth. Brill was impressed with the consistency of Cepelak in the first two tournaments of the year.
"Brenna Cepelak had another chance to win a tournament. She'll get there," Brill said. "I just like the fact that she's knocking on the door every tournament. That is very encouraging."
Another bright spot for the Wildcats this week was the play of senior Ulrika Johannson. Brill expressed excitement about her performance in the tournament.
"What I am really proud of is Ulrika Johannson stepping forward," Brill said. "I can now count on her being one of our top three players."
With the proven leadership of Brenna Cepelak, the improved play of Ulrika Johannson, and the limitless talent of Heather Graff, the Wildcats have a solid top three players. The depth of the team will be the key for the team's postseason expectations.
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