PING/ASU Invite Previews Pac-10 Championships

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The Cal women's golf team's final tournament before the Pac-10 Championship will give it a sample of the stiff competition it will face in the final stretch of the season.

The No. 11 Bears will face seven of the nine teams that they will see in the Pac-10 Championship at the PING/ASU Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., this weekend. No. 1 Arizona State hosts the three-day, 54-hole tournament on their home turf, the Karsten Golf Course, beginning this morning.

Eleven of the 17 teams are ranked in the top 25 and seven are in the top 10, including No. 2 UCLA, No. 6 USC and No. 8 Arizona.

Cal sophomore Joanne Lee, who is having a breakout season, is ranked 23rd among individuals and is eighth among Pac-10 golfers. Bears junior Pia Halbig, one of the team's veterans, just cracked the top 50 list at No. 50 and sophomore Emily Childs is ranked 74th.

Cal has not participated in a tournament since it won the Juli Inkster Invitational in San Jose a month ago, but its members have put in the effort to stay on top of their game.

They used that downtime for a 10-day challenge, splitting into two squads and going head-to-head in match play format to help them stay competitive and focused over the break.

In addition, the Bears specifically practiced their wedge shots ranging from 30-100 yards in order to help their positioning on the par-five holes they will face this weekend.

What Cal could not prepare for, however, was an injury to sophomore Daniela Holmqvist, who will miss the PING/ASU Invitational because of a sore back and remains questionable for the Pac-10 Championship next week.

The unexpected change this late in the season may have enough of a negative impact to hurt Cal's performance.

"Being rested and ready to go is a big factor coming down the stretch," coach Nancy McDaniel said.

Freshman Jacqueline Williams will take Holmqvist's place in the starting lineup, which has stayed the same for all but one tournament the entire season. Williams only played in Cal's first tournament of the season, the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge.

After a practice round on the Karsten Golf Course yesterday, the Bears will tee off today at 8 a.m. Tee times for Saturday and Sunday begin at 8 a.m., and 7:30 a.m., respectively.

Compared to Cal's other tournament in Arizona earlier this season for the Wildcat Invitational, the 6,230-yard, par-72 course is flatter and easier to navigate.

"This is our last actual season tournament," McDaniel said. "We're getting ready to turn the corner into the postseason and we're looking forward to (the Pac-10 Championship)."

After this weekend's action, they won't have long to wait. The Pac-10 Championships begin on April 19, in Eugene, Ore.


Contact Byron Atashian at [email protected]

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