Koller improves dramatically during freshman season
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

      After finishing last on the team in her first three college golf events and sitting out the fourth during the fall semester, freshman Nikki Koller became one of the top players for the University of Arizona golf team.
     A two-time Kentucky high school state champion while playing for Russellville High School, Koller led the team in scoring twice the second semester and finished no lower than third on the Lady Wildcat team all spring.
     Playing 23 rounds going into the national tournament, she averaged 75.83 strokes per 18 holes. She had one round of 69 in a tournament played in Mexico.
     Her best finish was in a tie for 12th in the PAC-20 Championships at the Stanford Golf Course in Palo Alto, Calif. She shot 76-72-71 for a 6-over 219. That was also the team's best score. Arizona placed fourth in that one behind Arizona State, USC and UCLA.
     The Wildcats didn't have a particularly good week in the 28th Annual NCAA Division I Golf Championships but still placed 16th in the nation. The tournament was played at the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, MD. Koller finished third on the team at nationals at 24 over par. She was tied for 75th.
     Their inner-state rivals Arizona State, which finished ahead of the Wildcats all spring, won the national championship.
     Arizona had great balance in their NCAA region in Tempe, Ariz. All five Lady Wildcats shot between 2220 and 223. Koller was one of two team members at 6-over 222. That was good for only seventh place, however, with Arizona State, USC and LSU as the top three.
     Koller also led Arizona with a 226 (10 over) in the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational at the University of Texas Golf Club. Her team slipped to 15th in that one, which was won by Purdue with Arizona State second and Arkansas third.
     In the last regular season tournament of the year, Koller tied for 36th in the PING?ASU Invitational with a 13-ver 229 at Tempe. Arizona was seventh in that event, which was one by Oklahoma State with Purdue second and Arizona State third.
     In the UCF Challenge at the Red Tail Golf Club in Sorrento, Fla., Koller shot a 221, which was only five over par. That tied her for 43rd, which was third on the team.
     She placed second among eight Lady Cats entrants and 18th overall in a tournament sponsored by Arizona but held at the Penisula Golf Club in Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico. The host team placed sixth behind UCLA, Arizona State, USC, Pklahoma State and Pepperdine.

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