March 6, 2009
The top-ranked UCLA women's golf team prepares to travel to the East Coast for the UCF Challenge, hosted by the University of Central Florida at RedTail Golf Club in Sorrento, Fla. RedTail will play to a par of 72 over 6,301 yards.
The 18-team tournament runs Mar. 8-10 and includes 13 of the Top 20 teams in the nation and 28 of the Top 50 individuals.
For the third consecutive tournament, the Bruins will battle their Pac-10 rivals -- No.1 ranked Arizona State and third-ranked USC. Arizona State is ranked first in two of the three major polls: GolfWeek and the Coaches Poll; the Bruins held the top spot in the GolfStat rankings this week.
In the Coaches poll released this week, both UCLA and ASU secured the same amount of first place votes (13), but the Sun Devils boasted just two more points. USC was ranked third.
"We have a clear understanding that the rankings don't mean anything, because it's still early, and we have a lot in front of us," said UCLA Head Coach Carrie Forsyth.
Notably absent from the Bruins' lineup is senior All-American Tiffany Joh, who was unable to qualify after tying for 18th at the Wildcat Invitational. It was Joh's worst result since she tied for 23rd in the same event in 2007. Still, she was ranked 14th nationally and boasted a 73.1 scoring average.
Senior Ryann O'Toole was expected to take Joh's spot in the lineup, however illness this week may require that she play as an individual. O'Toole has recorded three Top 10 results in four starts and was averaging 73.6.
Senior Maiya Tanaka, who tied for 10th at the 2008 NCAA Central Regional, made the Florida trip as a sixth player. Earlier this week, she tied for fifth at the Wave Invitational, closing with a 71 (-1) in wet conditions. She was averaging 72.7 in four rounds.
The remainder of the lineup features a junior, two sophomores and a freshman.
Stephanie Kono will play at No. 1 after recording six consecutive Top 20 finishes this season, including a victory at the Collegiate Match Play Championship. She was averaging 71.8 and was just three-over par in 17 rounds.
Junior Sydney Michaels was averaging 72.7 in 14 rounds with a victory at the Mason Rudolph Championship in September. Sophomores Glory Yang and Maria Jose Uribe were averaging 72.8 and 73.4, respectively. Uribe boasted five Top 20 results, and Yang led the team with eight rounds under par. Yang won the Top Cup in September, her first collegiate victory.