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The Decade of the Devil

Hard work and dedication do pay off. The Arizona State women's golf program learned that lesson often during the 1990s--the "Decade of the Devil."

Six NCAA championships and 37 tournament wins in the 1990s is definitely something to be proud of. Determination and a plethora of the nation's best amateurs helped then head coach Linda Vollstedt guide her teams to the pinnacle of the game-capturing six NCAA championships in the 1990s, walking away with top honors in 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997 and 1998. The program now owns twice as many NCAA titles as any other women's golf program in the nation.

TITLE NUMBER SIX: The 1998 season saw the Sun Devils claim the NCAA crown with an 18-stroke victory at the University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis. ASU cruised to its second straight NCAA title in dominating fashion.

1998 NCAA Champions

Runner-up Florida finished 18 strokes behind and the remainder of the field was more than 20 shots back. ASU fired a school-record 11-under par 277 to get things rolling in the first round and never looked back. Freshman Grace Park placed third, and senior Kellee Booth finished fourth to lead the Devils' one-two punch. It was Park, the 1998 Rolex/Eleanor Dudley Collegiate Golfer of the Year, who set the college scene ablaze with consecutive rounds of 65 in the first 36 holes of the NCAA Championships. But just as important was junior Tui Selvaratnam carding a third-round 70 and senior Jeanne-Marie Busuttil firing a third-round 71 to help secure ASU's hold on another team title. Park and Booth were named First Team All-Americans, while Booth, Busuttil and junior Keri Cornelius received Academic All-America honors.

ONE FOR EACH FINGER: Arizona State's fifth national championship came in 1997.

1997 NCAA Champions

The Sun Devils also turned in wins at the NCAA West Regional and the Golf World/Palmetto Dunes Collegiate, finishing no lower than fourth in 10 tournaments. The season included four runner-up finishes as well. Juniors Booth and Busuttil earned second-team All-America honors while finishing tied for fifth and 25th, respectively. Selvaratnam tied for seventh after shooting a career-low 67 in the third round. ASU ended the season with a number one ranking while Vollstedt was honored as GolfWeek's Collegiate Women's Coach of the Year. Booth was named a first team All-American, while Busuttil was awarded second team honors.

THE THREE-PEAT: In 1995, Arizona State became the only school to "three-peat" as national champions in women's golf, winning its third consecutive title. As the 1994-95 season began, expectations were high for the Devils to continue their dominance in the collegiate golf realm.

1995 NCAA Champions

True to form, ASU lived up to all of the expectations, and began the season with a 36-stroke win over host school New Mexico State in the Diet Coke-Roadrunner Classic. Sophomore sensation Heather Bowie claimed medalist honors with senior Wendy Ward just three-strokes behind. The Sun Devils would not be seriously challenged for the rest of the regular season, taking top team honors in seven more tournaments. An ASU golfer took top individual honors at all but one team tournament, and the Sun Devils also won the NCAA West Regional in Tucson, Ariz. Ward captured medalist honors at the tournament.

Arizona State had just one more stop to make before wrapping up its undefeated season in 1994-95--the Landfall Club in Wilmington, N.C., for the NCAA Championships. The Sun Devils won a record-breaking third consecutive championship by 26 strokes over San Jose State, and senior Kristel Mourgue d'Algue claimed individual medalist honors. It was the French native's first tournament victory as a Sun Devil. Ward tied for runner-up honors, while Mourgue d'Algue, Ward, Bowie and Booth were named first-team All-Americans. Linda Ericsson collected honorable mention accolades, and Vollstedt was named Co-Coach of the Year by her peers.

BACK-TO-BACK CHAMPS: During the 1993-94 season, the pressure to repeat as champions came early, but the Sun Devils showed the golfing world they were ready for the challenge. At the Fall Preview held at the Oregon Golf Club, Ward and freshman Bowie, competing in her first collegiate event, battled to first and second place, respectively. ASU won the team competition in the rain-shortened tournament by nine strokes. The spring season began at another important course for the Sun Devils--the Randolph Park North Course in Tucson, home of the 1993 inaugural West Regionals that ASU won.

1994 NCAA Champions

The Conquistadores/Chris Johnson Invitational turned into another battle for ASU with three of its golfers competing for the top spot going into the final day. The final leader board read Bowie, Tracy Cone, and Emilee Klein, giving the Sun Devils its first 1-2-3 finish of the year. ASU won the Tucson tourney by 26 strokes.

Fort Ord, Calif., was the site of the Sun Devils' biggest margin of victory of 1993-94. The Sun Devils defeated host San Jose State by 39 strokes and Cone earned medalist honors. Next on the schedule was the PING/ASU Invitational, where the Sun Devils beat Stanford by an impressive 30-stroke margin. Bowie and Ward once again topped the leaderboard, tying for medalist honors.

Postseason competition began in Brentwood, Calif., at the Pac-10 Championships. The competition was fierce as the Sun Devils claimed their second consecutive Pac-10 title. Ward tied for first-place and lost on the second hole of sudden death. The emotional win would take the Sun Devils to the NCAA West Regional in Albuquerque, N.M., where "the streak" finally ended. The Sun Devils finished in third place, registering their lowest finish of the year, 10 strokes off the lead.

ASU's finale of the 1993-94 season was a homecoming for Cone of Washington, and Vollstedt of Oregon, in West Linn, Ore. The squad added to their list of successes a feat never before accomplished: winning three championships in one decade. Since then, Vollstedt's ASU squads have won three more in the 1990s. The Devils captured their second consecutive title with a 16-stroke victory. Klein earned medalist honors with Ward just two strokes behind. Bowie, Klein and Ward were honored with first-team All-America accolades. Cone received second-team honors. Vollstedt was voted Coach of the Year by her peers and was also surprised with an induction into the National Golf Coaches Hall of Fame.

TITLE NUMBER TWO: In their 1992-93 campaign, the Sun Devils began a torrent of number one finishes with the Golf World/Palmetto Dunes Invitational in Hilton Head, S.C. Leading ASU was freshman Klein. The Devils finished in the first or second position in all but one of their 1992-93 tournaments.

1993 NCAA Champions

Wins also came at the PING/ASU Invitational. ASU next traveled to the Pacific-10 Championships in Walla Walla, Wash., where it posted a 16-stroke win over UCLA. Ward earned medalist honors for the first time in her collegiate career. At the inaugural NCAA West Regional in Tucson, Swedish native Ericsson blistered the course with an 8-under performance.

A trip to the South was full of hospitality as the Sun Devils picked up their second NCAA Championship of the decade in Athens, Ga. ASU used a balanced attack and slowly moved up the leader board. An incredible back nine helped the Sun Devils to the jewel of collegiate golf. The final leaderboard read Sun Devils 1187, Texas 1189. All five members of the ASU lineup captured post-season awards in 1993, as Ward and Klein received All-America status, Cone and Ericsson earned regional accolades and Ulrika von Heijne was named an Academic All-American.

THE FIRST TITLE: Arizona State captured team titles in six of 11 tournament appearances en route to the 1989-90 NCAA Championship. The squad never finished below third place in a single tournament appearance. Vollstedt opened the season minus freshman phenomenon Brandie Burton and still managed third place at the Oregon Invitational. Three Sun Devils finished among the top 10, giving the collegiate golf world a glimpse of the total team effort that would become ASU's trademark. Seniors Amy Fruhwirth and Missy Farr, the consistency models of the squad, finished ninth and 10th, respectively, coupled with a 10th-place finish by Lynne Mikulas. Burton, the 1989 U.S. Amateur finalist, made her Sun Devil debut memorable with a three-stroke victory at the PING Tour Tulsa Invitational. In its first outing with a healthy lineup, Arizona State collected first-place honors at the Stanford Intercollegiate, with Burton extending her tournament winning streak to two. Again, three Sun Devils--Burton, Fruhwirth and Tricia Konz--finished among the top 10 on the leaderboard.

1990 NCAA Champions

After a runner-up finish at the Bruin Desert Classic, the Sun Devils collected three successive tournament titles and four of the next five. At the Chris Johnson Invitational in Tucson, Burton was forced to withdraw after one round (73) with kidney stones. Farr and Fruhwirth came through in the clutch with sixth-place finishes (tie), as the Sun Devils edged Texas for the team title. The team concept continued to manifest itself in ASU's success. ASU then exploded to a 14-stroke victory at the Yamaha Holiday Classic, as Burton and Fruhwirth tied for medalist honors in the rain-shortened, 36-hole event. All five Sun Devil golfers finished among the top 25. In perhaps one of the team's most impressive wins of the campaign, the Sun Devils finished seven strokes ahead of Tulsa to claim the Josten's Invitational title. Burton won her record fifth tournament in a row, and Fruhwirth tied for second-place.

Competing without Burton, who was playing at the LPGA's prestigious Dinah Shore Invitational, ASU finished third at the Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Hawaii, but the senior duo of Farr and Fruhwirth finished among the top 10. Burton's medalist win streak ended at the Lady Sun Devil Invitational, but ASU finished in first place by a commanding 17 strokes over runner-up Arizona. The freshman from Rialto, Calif., finished one stroke behind Tulsa's Kelly Robbins for medalist honors. But for the fifth time all season all five ASU golfers finished among the top 25.

In what might have been a blessing in disguise, the Sun Devils were edged for their third Pac-10 title in four years, but Burton topped the leaderboard with a five-under par 214, including a blistering seven-under 66 in the opening round.

Arizona State used the disappointment of the Pac-10 loss and the balanced attack to win its first NCAA title at Arthur Hills Golf Course in Hilton Head, S.C. It was the school's first national women's golf championship since winning the 1975 AIAW title. Burton, the pre-tournament favorite, appeared to be on her way to medalist honors. But three penalty shots pushed her down the leaderboard in what would prove to be her final collegiate outing. She eventually tied for eighth-place.

Konz, in her NCAA Championship debut, opened the tournament with a one-over 73, pacing the Sun Devils. On the second day Fruhwirth (74) and Burton (75) moved the Sun Devils into position in the team chase, while Burton moved into contention for medalist honors. Burton surged into the lead with one of the tournament's few sub-par rounds, as her round of 1-under 71 gave her the lead. The play of veterans Farr and Fruhwirth on the final day maintained a safe distance between the Sun Devils and the rest of the field. Farr registered a pair of 74s in the final two rounds to cap her stellar collegiate career. Every round found a different golfer helping Arizona State to remain among the leaders until capturing the tournament by 16 strokes over conference foe UCLA. The Sun Devils' team victory at the NCAA Championship was a perfect example of what led them to victory six times in 1989-90.

 

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