Northwest hosts Pac-10's best - Tucson Local Media: Import

Northwest hosts Pac-10's best

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Posted: Tuesday, May 2, 2006 11:00 pm

May 3, 2006 - It had been a long day of golf but Jessica Black was finding it easy to unwind and reflect on her round in day two of the women's Pac-10 tournament.

"See that tree?" asked the Washington State freshman pointing to a bushy tree across the 12th fairway from the Oro Valley backyard of Dennis and Camilla Cummings. "My ball is still in there."

Black and her Cougar teammates were guests of the Cummings and the Northwest as the Oro Valley Country Club played host to this year's women's Pac-10 golf tournament from April 24 through April 26.

More than 50 of the top Pac-10 players, coaches and fans took to the area to compete in this year's tournament, which annually rotates between the conference's 10 teams. UCLA may have held off Arizona State for the conference title but it was the Northwest that came out on top.

"I think it brought a lot to Oro Valley and gave fans a chance to see the future of the LPGA," said University of Arizona head coach and Oro Valley resident Greg Allen.

The Oro Valley Country Club was the logical choice as the location of this year's tournament, even if it isn't the UA home course.

The Wildcats play their home matches at Arizona National, a desert-style course located on the east side. Because of its layout, most who play Arizona National use a golf cart. The Pac-10 frowns on the use of carts for its tournaments. Traditionally, the Oro Valley Country Club is a relative easy course to walk. Plus, it's practically in Allen's backyard.

From time to time, the UA will practice at the Oro Valley Country Club, usually to warm up on a traditional-style course before heading off to play one on the road.

Hosting the Pac-10 tournament isn't a new endeavor for the Oro Valley Country Club. The club hosted the first women's Pac-10 tournament 20 years ago and since then, not much has changed.

"You can't really change a nice traditional course like this one," said Cal head coach Nancy McDaniel, who played in the first women's Pac-10 tourney while a student at the University of Washington.

What has changed - or is in the process of being changed - is the club's pro shop, which is being rebuilt in a new location. Allen and tournament officials would have liked to have the new shop completed before the tourney. The new shop is scheduled to be finished around July.

To prep for the women's arrival, the club rolled its greens three times in the week and a half leading up to the tourney and a added an inch of rough to be more penalizing to the players.

Hosting a tournament of this size takes more than just providing a suitable and competitive golf course, however.

All visiting players and coaches were put up at the Tucson Hilton El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort, a popular choice among the players.

"This is the first time I ever had a chance to workout, eat and study, things like that after a round," said Sophia Sheridan of her stay at the resort. "Usually, by the time you shower and eat it's time to go to bed."

The serene surroundings suited Sheridan well. The Cal senior finished the tournament tied for third place shooting a 216 over the tourney's three days. As a team, Cal finished fourth overall.

Tucson and Tempe are among the most popular road destinations in the Pac-10, admitted Sheridan and several of her teammates.

It's also a fan favorite. Roughly 200 spectators took in the tournament's final day to witness UCLA edge out ASU by one stroke for its third conference title since 2005.

Although players basked in the posh surroundings of the El Conquistador at night, each team was assigned to a host family of country club members. The job of the host family was to make the players and coaches feel comfortable and provide a relaxing atmosphere on the night before the final round. For most families, that meant throwing some kind of barbeque or dinner.

"What I'll take with me is I'll follow Washington State for the rest of my life," said Camilla Cummings, a former Washington resident.

The country club has 540 golfing members, roughly 40 of whom volunteered to work on each hole or as host families. Interestingly, laughs Oro Valley Country Club head golf pro Colby DeWaters, Arizona State was the hardest and last team to find a host family for.

The Oro Valley Country Club will host several other tournaments this year including the girls Junior America's Cup in July and the PGA's Junior Southwest Sectional in June. In years past, the club played host to the PGA qualifier and several Pro-Ams for the PGA's Chrysler Classic.

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