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Oct. 20, 2011

Tournament NotesGet Acrobat Reader

Coach Harris Previews the Weekend

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina women’s golf team opens play in one of the premier tournaments in college golf on Friday as it travels to Knoxville, Tenn. to compete in the SEC/Pac-12 Challenge.

The 54-hole tournament runs through Sunday at Holston Hills Country Club, which boasts a par-72, 6,447-yard layout. The 23-team field is comprised of 12 SEC programs and 11 from the Pac-12. Between the two conferences, 14 squads are nationally ranked, including seven of the nation’s top 10 teams led by defending national champion UCLA.

“This is about as close to a national championship field that you can get,” South Carolina head coach Kalen Harris said. “This will probably be the strongest field we will play in next to the national championship. You have two of the strongest conferences in the country competing against one another. We are looking forward to it. The stronger the competition we compete against the better it makes us.”

The Gamecocks are playing in the event for a second-straight year. The inaugural SEC/Pac-12 Challenge was held last year at Stanford, where Carolina finished tied for 15th with a score of 912 (+60). UCLA is the defending champion as it ran away with last year’s title with a score of 856 (+4).

After experimenting with a different lineup at the Tar Heel Invitational, the Gamecocks are going back to their season-opening lineup this weekend. Senior Katie Burnett, juniors Meredith Swanson and Amanda Strang and sophomores Katie Rose Higgins and Samantha Swinehart get the start, while sophomore Suzie Lee will tee it up as an individual. Using this same lineup, the Gamecocks finished 10th out of 22 teams in the Cougar Classic after shooting a school-record 279 (-9) in the final round.

The Gamecocks are coming off an 11th-place finish in the Tar Heel Invitational. Burnett led the way with a tie for 21st showing with rounds of 68-73-78=219 (+3). Freshman Justine Dreher played as an individual and finished tied for 37th in her collegiate debut. She carded a 4-under 68 in the second round, which is the lowest round ever by a Gamecock freshman.

“We are really proud of (Dreher),” Harris said. “She’s done a phenomenal job. She’s not playing the golf that she’s capable of yet. She’s a very strong player. Just getting a glimpse of her 68 is what she’s capable of a lot. I expect her to do great things for us in the future.”

South Carolina is paired with Georgia, Washington State and California for Friday’s first round and will tee off at 9:30 a.m. on hole No. 10. Live scoring is available at