April 5, 2012
COLUMBIA S.C. — The South Carolina women’s golf team will open play in the final tournament of the regular season on Friday when it tees off in the first round of the Bryan National Collegiate in Greensboro, N.C.
The 54-hole event runs through Sunday on the Players Course at the Bryan Park Golf and Enrichment Center, which features a par-72, 6,323-yard layout. The Gamecocks, who moved up to No. 25 in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, will look to keep their momentum going after claiming fifth place last weekend at the prestigious Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic.
“It’s another golf course that we’ve played quite a few times,” South Carolina head coach Kalen Harris said. “It’s a very similar field that we are facing. There are a lot of SEC, ACC and Big Ten teams. We are coming off a really big week, so we have some momentum going. We will take it one shot at a time and one hole at a time and try to put up some good scores.”
Carolina will compete with an almost identical lineup to last week’s starting five, with senior Katie Burnett leading the way. Burnett, who is set to make her 35th straight start, is on her way to wrapping up her career as one of the best to ever play for the Gamecocks. The Brunswick, Ga., native is coming off a fifth-place finish at the Liz Murphey Classic with rounds of 70-70-72=212 (-4). She lowered her career scoring average to 74.27, which currently ranks first in school history.
“I’m really proud of the way she’s settled in here,” Harris said of Burnett. “She’s having fun playing the game and is not putting pressure on herself. I was really excited about the way she played the final round at the Liz Murphey this past week. She was in contention. She was playing with the tournament leader and she hung in there and just followed her shot for shot and gave herself a chance to win it. She’s doing a phenomenal job and has been a rock for us. She’ll be missed next year. That’s for sure.”
Junior Meredith Swanson, who is coming off the first top-10 finish of her career, is in the No. 2 slot for the Gamecocks. Junior Amanda Strang will make her 31st career appearance, while sophomore Katie Rose Higgins has earned her seventh start of the season. After competing as an individual last week, freshman Justine Dreher is penciled in at the No. 5 spot, while sophomore Samantha Swinehart will play as an individual.
The Gamecocks are making their 12th appearance at the Bryan National Collegiate, which is in its 15th year. Carolina finished ninth at last year’s tournament with a score of 929 (+65). Swinehart led the way as she finished in a tie for 12th with rounds of 73-73-79=225 (+9). The Gamecocks’ best finish at the event was a sixth-place showing in 2009.
Carolina will be facing a field full of top-50 squads this weekend, as 13 of the 17 teams are ranked in the Golfweek Top 50. Sixth-ranked North Carolina headlines the field, followed by No. 9 Duke, No. 13 Tennessee, No. 19 North Carolina State, No. 22 Michigan State, No. 24 Virginia, No. 26 Ohio State, No. 29 Florida State, No. 33 Tulane, No. 39 Kentucky, No. 42 Northwestern and No. 46 Wake Forest. College of Charleston, Louisville, UNC Wilmington and UNC Greensboro round out the field.
The Gamecocks tee off on Friday beginning at 8:20 a.m. and are paired with Florida State and UNC Wilmington. Live scoring will be available at golfstatresults.com.