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Oct. 9, 2008

COLUMBIA – South Carolina’s women’s golf team heads to Knoxville, Tenn., for the first time since the 2003-04 season to compete in the Mercedes-Benz Championships at Fox Den Country Club.

The Gamecocks are looking for a strong week after fighting to a 12th-place finish last weekend at the Lady Tar Heel Invitational in Chapel Hill, N.C. Carolina shot 926 (+62) over three rounds, but improved one spot over its 13th-place finish a year ago.

Freshman Katie Burnett continues to lead the way for the Gamecock women, having finished in the top 20 in both of her first two tournaments as a collegian. She followed up an eighth-place finish at the season-opening Cougar Classic with a tie for 17th place last weekend in Chapel Hill. The native of Brunswick, Ga., leads the team with a 72.83 average through six rounds.

Benedicte Toumpsin has continued her strong play as well, averaging 73.83 strokes in her six competitive rounds. The junior from Belgium finished 11th at the Cougar Classic and fought to a tie for 35th last week.

Junior Taylor Barrett and senior Meredith Taylor are about as even as can be through six competitive rounds as both are averaging 78.17 strokes per 18 holes, both with a low round of 74 on the year. Barrett’s best finish came at the Cougar Classic when she finished 45th at 226 (+10), and Taylor’s top tournament was in Charleston as well with a tie for 59th.

The one Gamecock who has experience in this tournament is Furman transfer Corrine Carr, who competed in last year’s event Cherokee Country Club. She struggled on the narrow Cherokee layout, finishing 89th with a 240 (+24), but looks to improve at the more forgiving Fox Den this weekend.

With longtime host course Cherokee closed for renovation, the tournament relocates to Fox Den in the Knoxville suburb of Farragut. Fox Den, which will play at par 72, 6,058 yards for the Mercedes-Benz. The course has been host to the Nationwide Tour’s Knoxville Open since 1999. It will be South Carolina’s first foray to the Mercedes-Benz Championships since the 2003-04 season when the Gamecocks finished 12th.

It will be another strong field awaiting the Gamecocks in Knoxville, with seven of 18 teams ranked in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Top 25. No. 9 Denver headlines the field, along with No. 10 North Carolina, No. 18 LSU, No. 19 Louisville, No. 20 Kent State, No. 24 Texas A&M and No. 25 Arkansas. Three other SEC schools – host Tennessee, Kentucky and Ole Miss – are slated to compete, as is Chattanooga, NC State, Tulane, UCF, Furman, SMU and Indiana State.

South Carolina is in the second wave of tee times and will go off the No. 10 tee beginning at 9:45 a.m. The Gamecocks are paired with Furman and North Carolina for Friday’s first round. Fans can follow the action through live stats at