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Oct. 24, 2013

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The South Carolina women’s golf team will wrap up its fall schedule this weekend at the Landfall Tradition in Wilmington, N.C.

The 54-hole event runs through Sunday at the par-72, 6,204 yard Pete Dye Course at the Country Club of Landfall.

“Both golf courses at the Country Club of Landfall are amazing,” said head coach Kalen Harris. “There’s a Jack Nicklaus course and the Pete Dye Course, we’ve played both and are familiar with both. The Pete Dye Course is very challenging. There are some difficult tee shots, a few difficult shots into some greens and some really difficult par threes. It’s going to be a demanding, ball-striking kind of golf course and the greens are usually amazing so if you get the ball rolling well you’re going to get some putts in. I think it’s going to be a golf course that doesn’t produce a ton of real low numbers. It’s not going to be a shoot out but more of a grinding golf course where you need a lot of toughness and have to fight it out to the very end and I think we have a group that can do that.”

The Gamecocks will take the same five golfers to Wilmington that appeared in the lineup for the Tar Heel Invitational. After earning her second top-10 finish of the season, junior Justine Dreher will hold the top spot in the lineup this weekend. Sophomore Sarah Schmelzel will be No. 2, followed by freshman Katelyn Dambaugh at No. 3, senior Samantha Swinehart at No. 4 and sophomore Mary Fran Hillow will claim the fifth spot in the lineup. All five golfers who will compete this weekend have stroke averages under 74 on the season and have combined for 18 rounds of par or better.

“The team has been really good so far and we’ve gained a lot of momentum,” said Harris. “A couple of weeks ago at the Tar Heel Invitational the group did really well. We got off to a slow start but battled back from 13th to fifth in a very strong field so I was really proud of them. We played really solid the last two days [of the tournament] to come back and finish strong. The team has been playing some great golf and putting up some good numbers. If we get a few putts to fall we’re going to be right there contending for one of the championships. We played really well in Tennessee and had the opportunity to win that one, we’re just looking to keep playing solid golf and putting ourselves in contention.”

The Gamecocks will look to take the momentum of recording their third consecutive top-10 finish at the Tar Heel Invitational into this weekend, as they will again face tough competition. South Carolina met four of the then top-5 teams in Chapel Hill and came out tied with then-No. 2 Alabama and ahead of then-No. 5 Florida. After shooting a first-round 11-over 299, the Gamecocks shot second and third rounds of 291 (+3) and 288 (E), respectively, to move up eight spots on the leaderboard and finish in a tie for fifth place. Dreher concluded the tournament in seventh place with a score of 214 (-2). Schmelzel shot a round of par and finished with a 5-over 221 to tie for 32nd place while Dambaugh tallied two rounds of par and finished in a tie for 38th place with a score of 223 (+7).

Of the 18 teams in the tournament this weekend 11, including the Gamecocks at No. 16, are ranked in the Golf World/NGCA Division I College Women’s Coaches’ Poll. Two top-5 teams highlight the field as No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 5 Duke will make the trip to Wilmington. Other ranked opponents include No. 6 Alabama, No. 9 Arizona, No. 12 NC State, No. 15 North Carolina, No. 20 Iowa State, No. 24 Ohio State and No. 25 Virginia. Nine of those 11 teams are also ranked in the Golfstat top-25 including South Carolina at No. 19. Michigan State was left out of the Golf World/NGCA Division I College Women’s Coaches’ Poll but is No. 21 in the Golfstat rankings. Mississippi, UNCG, host UNCW, Notre Dame, Purdue, and Wake Forest round out the field.

This will mark South Carolina’s fourth consecutive trip to the Landfall Tradition. Last year the Gamecocks finished in 13th place with a score of 304 after the second and third rounds were cancelled due to heavy rain. Dreher carded the low round with a 1-over 73 and finished in a tie for 15th place. The Gamecocks best finish at the tournament came in 2011 when they placed 4th.

First round play is scheduled to begin Friday at 8:30 a.m. Live scoring is available here =”>