March 26, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 3 South Carolina will look to begin building momentum to take into postseason play this weekend at the 42nd Annual Liz Murphy Collegiate Classic in Athens, Ga. The Gamecocks begin play on Friday morning and are paired with No. 2 Southern Cal for the opening round of stroke play. The event runs through Sunday at the par-72, 6,401-yard University of Georgia Golf Course.
Dates: Fri., Mar. 27 – Sun., Mar. 29
Location: Athens, Ga.
Course: University of Georgia Golf Course â€¢ Par 72 â€¢ 6,401 yards
Format: 18-hole stroke-play qualifying round followed by two rounds of match play on Saturday and one on Sunday
The Lineup: Ainhoa Olarra, Katelyn Dambaugh, Jia Xin Yang, Sarah Schmelzel, Justine Dreher
The Field: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Duke, Georgia, Northwestern, Purdue, South Carolina, Southern Cal, Stanford, UCLA
Live Scoring: BirdieFire
In 2014, the Liz Murphey became one of the first women’s events to switch to a combination of stroke and match play in advance of the NCAA Championships’ adaptation of a similar format in 2015. The teams will play 18 holes of stroke play qualifying, then the top eight teams will move on to match play in the “Red” bracket while the remaining four teams continue on in the “Black” bracket. Saturday features two rounds of match play followed by one on Sunday.
On a run of 13-straight regular-season top-5 finishes, the Gamecocks face yet another elite field with the Liz Murphey field of 12 featuring eight teams in the top 25 of the latest edition of the Golfstat Relative Ratings. The 12 teams own 13 of the 15 NCAA team titles in the 2000s, and five of the top 10 collegiate individuals will be on display as well.
In just her second appearance in the Gamecock lineup, freshman Ainhoa Olarra takes the top spot this week. Olarra made her debut in the lineup at the spring-opening Florida State Match-Up finishing T32 at 11-over. Sophomores Katelyn Dambaugh and Jia Xin Yang follow, with junior Sarah Schmelzel and senior Justine Dreher rounding out the top five.
Dreher leads the Gamecocks with a season stroke average of 72.67, a score that tops the program’s single-season scoring average (minimum 18 rounds). In the program’s career scoring average (min. 55 rounds), Schmelzel checks in at No. 2 with a 74.33 average and Dreher is just behind her at 74.35.
The Gamecocks are making their first appearance at the event since the spring of 2012 when they finished fifth with a 54-hole total of 875 (+11). This weekend, South Carolina will look to continue a long history of success at the UGA Golf Course. The venue is the site of the Gamecocks’ 2002 SEC Championship. Kristy McPherson posted a 209 (-7) to take medalist honors for the second straight season at the conference event. In 2008, Benedicte Toumpsin won medalist honors at the NCAA East Regional at the course, and the Gamecocks also finished 12th at the 1993 NCAA Championship held at the UGA Golf Course, the third-best championship finish in school history.
South Carolina opened the spring season with a pair of top-five finishes, taking fourth at the Florida State Match-Up and fifth at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate, a tournament the program hosts in Hilton Head Island, S.C. In an elite field, the Gamecocks battled back from a tough opening day at the Long Cove Club for the fifth place finish at the DRI, recording a three-day total of 890 (+38). Dambaugh earned her second-best finish of the season to lead South Carolina, finishing at 8-over (221) to take 16th.
South Carolina wraps up the regular season in its next tournament, travelings West for the PING ASU Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., April 10-12.