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March 30, 2012

ATHENS, Ga. — The South Carolina women’s golf team posted its best opening round of the season with a 3-under 285 on Friday at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic at the University of Georgia Golf Course.

The Gamecocks finished the day in third place, seven strokes back of tournament leader Alabama (278). Host Georgia is in second after shooting a 4-under 284. Carolina’s 285 tied its third-round total at last year’s Liz Murphey Classic for the fifth-best score in school history.

“I was real proud of them today. The greens are in really good shape here, and I think we just got some momentum with the putter,” South Carolina head coach Kalen Harris said. “The golf course was scoreable, and we did a great job of taking advantage of that and staying patient. We need to go out there (Saturday) and stay patient and have another good round.”

Junior Amanda Strang played her best round of the season to lead the Gamecocks as she tied her career low with a 3-under 69 to finish the day three strokes off the lead in a tie for third. She shot an even-par 35 on the front nine, which included two birdies, two bogeys and five pars. Strang then caught fire on the back nine. After a bogey on the 11th, she reeled off birdies on four of her next five holes to move to 3-under where she wrapped up the round. Strang was zoned in on the par 3s as she made birdies on three of the four on the course.

“I was really proud of Amanda,” Harris said. “She was putting the ball well and was hitting some really good shots.”

Senior Katie Burnett played steady golf for most of her round as she shot a 2-under 70 to position herself in the top 10 in a tie for sixth. The Brunswick, Ga., native was bogey-free for 17 holes but she was unable to get into the clubhouse without a blemish on the scorecard as she bogeyed the par-5 18th.

Junior Meredith Swanson was the third Gamecock to finish the day in red numbers as she shot a 1-under 71. Swanson made bogeys on two of her final three holes on the front side to make the turn at 1-over but she played her best golf of the afternoon on the back nine. Swanson birdied the 11th and 13th holes and made pars the rest of the way to close out the day at 1-under in a tie for 11th.

Sophomore Katie Rose Higgins carded a 3-over 75 to finish the round in a tie for 41st, while sophomore Samantha Swinehart recorded a 5-over 77 and is in a tie for 61st. Freshman Justine Dreher, who is playing as an individual, shot a 78 (+6) and is tied for 72nd.

Alabama’s Jennifer Kirby tied the tournament record with a 6-under 66 to take the individual lead by two strokes over teammate Brooke Pancake, who shot a 68.

Second-round play is slated to begin on Saturday at 9 a.m. with teams teeing off of holes one and 10. Live scoring will be available at

T3. Amanda Strang 69 (-3)
T6. Katie Burnett 70 (-2)
T11. Meredith Swanson 71 (-1)
T41. Katie Rose Higgins 75 (+3)
T61. Samantha Swinehart 77 (+5)
*T72. Justine Dreher 78 (+6)
*Playing as an individual

1. Alabama 278 (-10)
2. Georgia 284 (-4)
3. South Carolina 285 (-3)
4. Florida 286 (-2)
5. Virginia 287 (-1)
T6. Kent State 293 (+5)
T6. Purdue 293 (+5)
T8. Florida State 296 (+8)
T8. Oklahoma 296 (+8)
T8. Michigan State 296 (+8)
11. Auburn 297 (+9)
12. Notre Dame 301 (+13)
13. Wake Forest 302 (+14)
14. Denver 303 (+15)
T15. Missouri 305 (+17)
T15. Arkansas 305 (+17)
17. Georgia (B) 308 (+20)
18. Augusta State 311 (+23)