When the Pepperdine women, ranked 10th in the final Golf World/NGCA fall coaches' poll, tee it up next Monday out at Palos Verdes GC for the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, they'll play their spring opener without the newest member of their squad, Ayaka Kaneko. The 19-year-old from Honolulu, the 2007 U.S. Girls' Junior runner-up, has been nursing a sore left wrist since enrolling at the Malibu school last month. An MRI recently revealed Kaneko has a cyst, although doctors told her Wednesday the pain was unrelated, the result instead of a strain in the wrist.
"The good news is she's not going to need surgery," said Pepperdine women's coach Laurie Gibbs. "She just needs rest and to go through some treatment." Among the remedies doctors are using is acupuncture.
Initially Kaneko's problem sounded very similar to the one Arizona State's Azahara Munoz had recently suffered; the NCAA champion had a cyst removed from her wrist that had been causing her discomfort, which will cause her to miss the Northrop Grumman tournament as well.
Pepperdine's medical woes haven't been limited to Kaneko. Freshman Lisa McCloskey, who set the NCAA 54-hole scoring record last October at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown, suffered an appendicitis while with her family in Abu Dhabi during the winter vacation. The illness required that she have emergency surgery there just after Christmas. McCloskey has made a full recovery, but didn't begin to practicing until the past few weeks. Finally cleared two days ago by doctors to compete in the spring opener, McCloskey played her first full round of golf since the surgery on Wednesday.
Said Gibbs, with a sarcastic laugh: "I haven't been to the trainer this much in 15 years."