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Feb. 15, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina women’s golf team heads south this week to begin the second half of its season at the Central District Invitational at the River Wilderness Golf Club near Tampa, Fla. The tournament, hosted by Michigan State, begins with 36 holes Monday and concludes with an 18-hole round Tuesday.

The Gamecocks, rated 41st in the latest GolfStat rankings, aim for improvement after an up-and-down fall season. The fall started strong with a seventh-place finish in a tough field at the Cougar Classic, but got rougher against a pair of elite fields at the Lady Tar Heel Invitational and the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate, where the Gamecocks finished 12th and 15th, respectively. South Carolina finished the fall on a high note, however, with an eighth-place result at the Auburn Derby.

South Carolina will send out its usual lineup of senior Meredith Taylor, juniors Taylor Barrett, Corrine Carr and Benedicte Toumpsin, and freshman Katie Burnett. Toumpsin was the top golfer for South Carolina during the fall season with a 74.50 stroke average in 12 competitive rounds. Her low round was a 2-under-par 70 at the Cougar Classic where she pulled off a season-best 11th-place finish. Burnett earned the Gamecocks’ only top-10 placement of the fall at the same event, where her 1-under 213 got her to eighth place in her first collegiate tournament.

The Gamecocks will face a strong field consisting of 14 other teams, including five ranked in the latest GolfStat Top 25. No. 7 Duke, No. 14 Purdue, No. 15 LSU, No. 19 Michigan State and No. 21 Kent State join the Gamecocks, along with Auburn, Iowa State, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio State, Oklahoma, TCU and Texas.

The teams will begin Monday’s first round at 8 a.m. with a shotgun start. Toumpsin and Burnett will begin on hole 11, Carr starts on No. 12, Taylor will go off No. 13, and Barrett will start from the 14th tee. The Gamecocks are paired with Michigan and Missouri.

Live stats are available through, and a full recap of each round will follow on