Feb. 11, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina women’s golf team is set to begin play in its first event of 2012 on Sunday at the UCF Challenge.
The 54-hole tournament runs through Tuesday at RedTail Golf Club in Sorrento, Fla. Gamecocks head coach Kalen Harris is anxious to see her team back on the course after a successful fall season.
“We started back up in January and got into workouts and practice,” Harris said. “Qualifying went very well (for the UCF Challenge). The team as a whole seems to be playing pretty well. We are excited to get going and get into competition.”
The Gamecocks, who are ranked No. 25 by Golfweek and No. 27 in the Golfstat Head-to-Head ratings, enter the spring with some momentum after turning in their best performance in the final event of fall with a fourth-place showing at the Landfall Tradition on Oct. 30.
Carolina will look to keep its momentum going with a lineup of senior Katie Burnett, junior Amanda Strang, sophomores Samantha Swinehart and Suzie Lee and freshman Justine Dreher. Junior Meredith Swanson will also be playing as an individual. Burnett led the team with a 73.33 stroke average in the fall and is now second in school history with a 74.50 career scoring average. Strang made four appearances in the fall and produced a stroke average of 75.67, while Swinehart and Lee played in three and two events, respectively. Dreher gained experience in one tournament and shot a second-round 68 at the Tar Heel Invitational, which is the lowest round ever by a Gamecock freshman.
The Gamecocks are making their second trip to the UCF Challenge after playing in the event last season. Carolina tied for fifth place, as Burnett led the way with an eight-place finish with a three-day score of 216 (E), including a second-round 67 (-5).
This year’s field features 16 teams, with three ranked in the Golf World/Nike Top 25 and seven in the Golfweek Top 50. Auburn leads the way with a No. 3 ranking in both polls, while Texas comes in at No. 13/10 and Baylor is No. 21/21. Kentucky and Mississippi State will also represent the SEC, and in-state foe Coastal Carolina is slated to compete. Host UCF, Georgia State, Kansas, Kennesaw State, Memphis, Miami, Texas-San Antonio, Tulane and South Florida round out the field.
“It’s a great golf course, and there’s plenty of great competition there,” Harris said. “We love starting out at Central Florida. The golf course has been generally pretty scorable. The greens are always good. It’s a great way to start off the spring.”
The Gamecocks will tee off at hole No. 1 at 10:15 a.m. on Sunday and are paired with UCF and Coastal Carolina. Live results will be available at golfstatresults.com.