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Women's golf opens season in California

February 05, 2010

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This week
The Arizona State women's golf team will tee off the spring season at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge. The tournament will be held at the par 71, 5,912-yard Palos Verdes Golf Club in Palos Verdes, Calif., and will take place February 8-10. The Sun Devils won last year's rain-drenched Northrop Grumman thanks in large part to Juliana Murcia's stellar performance. Murcia became ASU's first Northrop Grumman individual champion after carding a 1-over 214 (70-71-73).

1. Carlota Ciganda
2. Juliana Murcia
3. Jennifer Johnson
4. Jaclyn Sweeney
5. Giulia Molinaro

About the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge
Ohio State is set to host the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge. The Sun Devils have won the tournament twice in the past five years. In addition to ASU, No. 2 UCLA, No. 5 Duke, No. 6 Michigan State, No. 7 USC, No. 12 Wake Forest, No. 13 Pepperdine, No. 15 California, No. 16 Florida, No. 19 Denver, No. 20 Louisville, No. 33 Ohio State, No. 34 UC Irvine, Colorado and TCU will also be competing. Live scoring will be available on

Twice as nice
The top-ranked ASU women's team already have two tournament wins under their belt. Last week, the Sun Devils finished on top at the Stanford Intercollegiate. This is the third straight time ASU has won on the Stanford Golf Course. Despite the stacked field, the Sun Devils came away with a four-stroke win as four of their players placed in the top 10. Previously, the Sun Devils took first at the TOPY Cup with a 26-stroke lead over second-place Wake Forest. Three ASU golfers went 1-2-3 as Jaclyn Sweeney claimed medalist honors with Juliana Murcia finishing runner-up and Carlota Ciganda tying for third.

Defending NCAA Champions
The Sun Devils claimed their first NCAA Championship since 1998, and seventh overall, last season at the Caves Valley Golf Course in Owings Mills, Md. The Sun Devils came back from an 11-stroke deficit after the second round to win by eight shots. ASU also won NCAA team titles in 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997 and 1998.

Krafty freshman
For the second year in a row, Jennifer Johnson has earned an amateur exemption for the Kraft Nabisco Championship. A native of nearby La Quinta, Calif., Johnson was one of five amateurs invited to play in the LPGA major. Last season, ASU's newest member of the LPGA Azahara Munoz, also accepted an invitation to play at the tour's first major of the season. In 2004, former Sun Devil star Grace Park won the major.

ASU star in the making
Speaking of Johnson has yet to experience any freshman jitters as she has placed in the top 10 at each of her tournaments this season. After a seventh place finish in her Sun Devil debut at the Mason Rudolph, Johnson went on to tie for sixth at the Stanford Intercollegiate. At the conclusion of the fall season, Johnson placed 10th at the Landfall Tradition.

Steady senior
Senior Juliana Murcia has had a strong start to her final season as a Sun Devil. The returning second-team All-American has finished in the top-20 in each tournament this season. After starting the 2009-10 campaign with a runner-up placing at the TOPY Cup, Murcia tied for 15th at the Mason Rudolph Championship. She followed that performance up with a third-place finish at the Stanford Intercollegiate. Over winter break, she tied for first at the Copa de las Americas in Argentina. A two-time NGCA All-American Scholar, Murcia is set to graduate in May.

What sophomore slump?
Returning All-American Carlota Ciganda has picked up right where she left off. The sophomore has already notched two top five finishes this season. Ciganda turned in a runner-up performance at the Stanford Intercollegiate. Additionally, she finished tied for third at the TOPY Cup and was the Sun Devil's highest finisher at the Landfall Tradition/NCAA Fall Preview.

A team of youngins
Despite the team's preseason No. 1 ranking and returning three starters from last season, the Sun Devils 2009-10 squad will be full of youth and inexperience as a Sun Devil. With Ciganda, Giulia Molinaro and Jaclyn Sweeney coming in last spring, only Murcia and Liisa Kelo have been at ASU for over a year. The Sun Devils will also boast five freshmen on their 10-woman squad.

Jackie medals in Japan
Junior Sweeney took on the TOPY Cup field, shooting a 5-under 211 (70-72-69) to claim her first medalist honor as a Sun Devil. Winning by one-stroke over teammate Murcia, Sweeney now has two collegiate tournament victories on her resume as she won the Big 12 Championship as a freshman at Oklahoma State.

New Luellen notes
It is believed she and her mother Dale McNamara (the legendary Tulsa women's golf coach who led the Golden Hurricane to four national titles) became the first mother-daughter duo to win NCAA Championships at different schools. It was also recently determined that she is the first women's golf individual NCAA Champion to coach her team an NCAA Championship.

Next up
The Sun Devils will head down to Tucson on February 15 for the Duel in the Desert.