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Oct. 6, 2011

Tournament NotesGet Acrobat Reader

October 6, 2011
Coach Harris

COLUMBIA, S.C. — After going more than three weeks without playing in a tournament, the South Carolina women’s golf team is anxious to get back on the course Friday for the first round of the 36th annual Tar Heel Invitational.

The 54-hole tournament, hosted by North Carolina, runs through Sunday at the UNC Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill, N.C. The course features a par-72, 6,285-yard layout.

The Gamecocks are coming off a strong showing in the season-opening Cougar Classic, finishing 10th out of 22 teams and breaking the school record for lowest score with a final-round 279 (-9). South Carolina head coach Kalen Harris expects her squad to continue its solid play this weekend.

“It’s a great event,” Harris said of the Tar Heel Invitational. “We’ve been there several times. (The course) is going to be a lot more challenging than the golf course that we just played in Charleston. We are going to have to put a good game plan together. Hopefully, we pick up where we left off in Charleston.”

With the success the Gamecocks had at the Cougar Classic, Harris will send out a similar lineup on Friday. Senior Katie Burnett, juniors Meredith Swanson and Amanda Strang and sophomore Katie Rose Higgins are slated to make their second-straight start, while sophomore Suzie Lee qualified for her first event of the season. Lee played in nine tournaments last season, and her stroke average of 75.39 ranked second on the team. Freshman Justine Dreher will also play as an individual.

Both Burnett and Swanson look to build on their stellar performances at the Cougar Classic. Burnett finished tied for ninth with rounds of 73-66-74=213 (-3). Her second-round 66 tied former Gamecock Jenna Pearson’s round of 66 (2007) for the lowest score in program history. Swanson posted rounds of 77-69-68=214 (-2) to tie for 12th.

“Katie has given us stability in our lineup every year she has been here,” Harris said. “She’s our senior and our leader. Meredith Swanson has really stepped up. She has worked very hard over the summer time. It’s great to see her get in the lineup and play very strong for us.”

South Carolina is making its seventh-straight appearance in the Tar Heel Invitational and 24th overall. The Gamecocks, whose best finish in the event was a third-place showing in 1998, tied for 11th in last year’s tournament.

This year’s field features 18 teams, including 12 ranked in the Golf World/NGCA coaches’ poll. No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 North Carolina, No. 6 Virginia, No. 10 Georgia, No. 11 Duke, No. 13 Arkansas, No. 14 Tennessee, No. 16 Auburn, No. 21 Michigan State, No. 23 NC State and No. 24 Wake Forest join Chattanooga, Coastal Carolina, Louisville, Notre Dame and Tulane to make up the field. Alabama ran away with last year’s title with a score of 836 (-28).

South Carolina is paired with Coastal Carolina and Louisville for Friday’s first round and will tee off at 9 a.m. on hole No. 10. Live scoring will be available at