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Women's golf earns 17th national appearance

May 19, 2008

The fourth-ranked Arizona State University women's golf team looks to add a seventh trophy to their collection of national championships. Playing as a second seed, the Sun Devils will compete at the 2008 NCAA Championship, May 20-23, at the 6,424-yard, par-72 University of New Mexico Championship Golf Course. ASU, with their storied history of women's golf, earned a record six national championships in the 1990s.

The field for nationals features--(No.1 seeds) Florida, UCLA, Southern California, (No. 2 seeds) Duke, Purdue, Arizona State, (No. 3 seeds) Georgia, Denver, UNLV, (No. 4 seeds) Auburn, TCU, Arizona, (No. 5 seeds) Virginia, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, (No. 6 seeds) South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, (No. 7 seeds) Wake Forest, Texas, Tulsa, (No. 8 seeds) Furman, LSU and UC Davis. The top-eight teams from the East, Central and West regionals qualified for a spot at nationals.

Arizona State will tee-off round one at 1:20 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20 along with Purdue and Duke off the first tee. The 2008 NCAA Championships, hosted by the University of New Mexico, is a four-day tournament with 18 holes played each day.

Sweet 17 for the Sun Devils
With ASU's second-place finish at the 2008 NCAA West regional to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, the Sun Devil's own the nation's current longest streak of consecutive NCAA tournament appearances with 17. Stanford, the previous record holder, failed to qualify for nationals for the first time in 19 years.

Perfect 10
In the ten tournaments the Sun Devils competed in this season, ASU has finished in top-five in every single tournament appearance. Led by junior All-American Jennifer Osborn, Arizona State came from a 12-stroke deficit to win the 2007 Stanford Intercollegiate and top then No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 Duke in October. ASU has also notched four second-place finishes and two third-place finishes.

Golfweek Individual Rankings
Sun Devils' Azahara Munoz and Anna Norqvist are both ranked in the top-10 in the most recent rankings. Munoz, ranked fifth, and Nordqvist, ranked seventh, are the only players from the same school ranked in the top-seven of the Golfweek rankings.

The Reign from Spain
Junior All-American Azahara Munoz, Malaga, Spain, is playing the best golf of her career. Of Munoz, head coach Melissa Luellen said, "She was frustrated last year because...she didn't see the results she expected." Even in her frustration, Munoz was named a second-team All-American last season. This season is a completely different story. With her third-place tie at the 2008 West Regional in Sacramento, Munoz has finished in the top-ten nine of her ten tournament appearances and finished in the top-three four times. "The plan we came up with this year is to work really hard for two weeks before the season and then just go play," said Luellen. "Aza is ready to win." Munoz currently posts, nationally, a fifth best 72.00 stroke average.

All-Pac-10 Honors
Munoz and sophomore All-American Anna Nordqvist earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors after the 2008 Pac-10 Championship in Palos Verdes, Calif. Munoz and Nordqvist were also in contention for Pac-10 Player of the Year. "It was actually a very close race for Pac-10 Player of the year between [UCLA's] Tiffany Joh and Aza and Anna," said Luellen. "It is obviously thrilling to have two players in the race." Joh eventually won out as the Player of the Year. Also garnering honors were Osborn and sophomore Juliana Murcia who were named All-Pac-10 Honorable Mentions.

Sun Devils Sign European Duo
The Arizona State women's golf team is proud to announce Guilia Molinaro and Carlota Ciganda have signed an NLI to study and play golf at Arizona State University. Molinaro will compete for the Sun Devils immediately while Ciganda will start the spring semester of 2009.

"I read Giulia's name in many magazines but I was really impressed when I was able to see her play in person," said Luellen. "She equally impressed me as both a golfer and a person. She will be a perfect fit to our Sun Devil family."

Molinaro, a member of the Italian Girls National Team, attends Bradenton Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Former Sun Devil Charmaine Erasmuc also attended Bradenton Academy. She is a member of the Italian Junior National Team and the Italian National Junior Champion.

The Italy native also joins current Sun Devil's Munoz and Nordqvist as Scotland's Duke of York tournament champions.

As for Ciganda, Luellen is excited about Spanish phenom.

"On the golf course Carlota has an amazing presence and a maturity well beyond her years," said Lullen. "She hits the ball a mile and has a terrific touch around the greens."

Ciganda, a native of Spain, has been the No. 1 ranked female amateur in Europe for the past two years. At the age of 14, she became the youngest player to win the European Championship. In addition to her stellar individual play, Ciganda is a member of the Spanish National Team and has represented Spain twice in the World Amateur. She is expected to make a third appearance at the World Amateur this October.

"Look for her to vie for Freshman of the Year, Player of the Year and to be a first-team All-American," said Luellen. "Of course, she'll have to battle our current Sun Devils for some of those honors, especially her best friend Azahara Munoz."

This summer, Ciganda defeated Arizona State's own Nordqvist in the final round of the 2007 Ladies' British Amateur Championship in England to take home tournament medalist honors.

"The entire team is excited about Carlota joining the team," said Luellen. "With our returning players and our new freshman [Giulia Molinaro], the Sun Devils will definitely be turning heads."