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ASU turns to Yokoi to lead women's golf team

Life without Linda Vollstedt officially began Monday afternoon with the naming of a new leader for one of the country's most renowned women's golf programs.

ASU athletic director Gene Smith appointed men's assistant golf coach Mickey Yokoi as the fifth head coach of the ASU women's golf program. The 42-year-old Yokoi will take over for Vollstedt, who retired in mid-June after guiding the Sun Devils to six NCAA titles in 21 years at the helm.

"Coach Vollstedt was the John Wooden of golf. What she did will probably never be equaled again," Yokoi said. "She set the bar so high for everyone else. If I could just try to get in that direction, that would be a success."

Vollstedt cited nagging leg injuries as her reason for leaving. She is still an intricate part of ASU's program, taking over as the school's director of golf promotions and marketing.

"I haven't been resting very well (while) waiting to see what was going to happen. Now that's everything is in place and in order, I'm finally going to be able to relax a little bit," Vollstedt said. "It's going to be a really easy transition because everybody knows everybody. We can just have one big happy family around here."

ASU lead associate athletic director Vic Cegles manned the search immediately after learning of Vollstedt's retirement. Cegles planned to have a new coach hired by the first day of school and he followed through on his promise.

"We had some good candidates (and) brought several on campus. You've got to get selective," Cegles said. "We feel good about being able to promote someone who is within the program."

The Sun Devils had a productive season a year ago that was capped off with an 18th-place finish at the NCAA Championships. ASU placed third in the Pac-10 Championships behind winner UA and Stanford.

"If we can just prepare ourselves and work real hard, our results will take care of themselves," Yokoi said.

Yokoi met with his new squad for the first time Monday afternoon. He was greeted by an experienced group of returnees that consists of sophomore Jimin Kang, juniors Melanie Hunt and Blair O'Neal and senior Lisa Meredith. The Sun Devils are scheduled to hit the links in three weeks for their season-opening tournament.

"(Yokoi) is going to be really good for the team. He's got a lot of energy and excitement," said ASU incoming freshman golfer Erin Tone.

ASU captured four Pac-10 titles in the five years Yokoi spent as an assistant under men's head coach Randy Lein. Yokoi served as the head golf professional and was in charge of all operations at the Country Club of the North in Dayton, Ohio for two years before coming to ASU. He went on to land a position as the vice chairman of the 1995 Children's Medical Center LPGA Tour event.

Yokoi turned pro after having a successful career as a collegiate golfer at UCLA from 1977-82. He captured All-American and All-Pac-10 honors with the Bruins. Yokoi was also a member of the 1982 UCLA Pac-10 Championship team.

Yokoi competed professionally on the Asian Tour, the Canadian and Australian PGA Tours and the PGA Hogan Tour. Yokoi made a return trip to UCLA in 1997, where he earned a bachelor's degree in psychology.

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