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April 16, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 2 South Carolina begins postseason play at the 2015 SEC Championships at the Greystone Golf and Country Club in Hoover, Ala. The Gamecocks begin play on the 6,190-yard Legacy Course with a shotgun start on Friday morning.

Dates: Fri., April 17 – Sun., April 19
Location: Hoover, Ala.
Course: Greystone Golf and Country Club • Par 72 • 6,190 yards
Format: 54-hole stroke play
The Lineup: Katelyn Dambaugh, Justine Dreher, Sarah Schmelzel, Jia Xin Yang, Mary Fran Hillow
The Field: Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Duke, Oklahoma, San Diego State, South Carolina, Southern Cal, Stanford, Texas, UCLA, UNLV, Washington
Live Scoring: GolfStat

SEC Championship Central

Tournament Notes Get Acrobat Reader

The Gamecocks will tee off against four of the country’s top 10 teams and eight of the top 25 in their 24th SEC Championship appearance. The SEC has continued to blossom as a women’s golf conference with 10 of its 14 teams capturing at least one tournament title during the regular season and five teams recording seven or more top-ten finishes. South Carolina has competed against every SEC team at least once during the regular season, compiling a 28-4 stroke-play record.

“You just have to keep doing your thing out there. You can’t treat this tournament any more special than the rest,” South Carolina head coach Kalen Anderson said of the SEC Championships. “We just need to build on what we’ve been doing all year. It’s kind of cliché, but we have to take it one stroke at a time and one round at a time. Hopefully if we keep doing what we’re doing and add them all up at the end, hopefully our results will fall at the top. That’s what we’ve been doing all year.”

After shooting a 66 on the way to a fifth place finish at last weekend’s PING/ASU Invitational Katelyn Dambaugh takes the top spot in this week’s lineup. The sophomore earned SEC Golfer of the Week honors for her result in a competitive field last weekend. In her fourth SEC Championship appearance, Justine Dreher takes the No. 2 slot. Junior Sarah Schmelzel, sophomore Jia Xin Yang and junior Mary Fran Hillow round out the lineup. This weekend marks the first SEC Championship trip for Yang while Hillow is making her second appearance and Schmelzel her third.

Last year, South Carolina was the runner up with a score of 890, finishing 11 strokes behind Vanderbilt (879). The Gamecocks’ best finish came in 2002 as they won the program’s sole SEC title with a score of 861, then a program record for low 54-hole score. Former All-American Kristy McPherson played a key role in South Carolinas’ victory in 2002 as she claimed the individual title with a score of 209. McPherson also won medalist honors in 2001 with a score of 207, which still stands as an SEC Tournament record.

Georgia owns the record for most SEC titles with 11, followed by Auburn (9), Florida (8), defending champion Vanderbilt (2), Alabama (2), South Carolina (1) and LSU (1).

Playing another rigorous schedule, the sixth toughest in the nation according to Golfstat, the Gamecocks have produced a 42-12-2 record against the top 25. Only South Carolina and top-ranked Southern California have a winning record of 70 percent or better when facing teams in the top 25. The Gamecocks hold a winning percentage of 76.7 percent while the Trojans are at 70.3 percent.

South Carolina has sustained the momentum from the 2013-14 season into 2014-15. In the fall, the Gamecocks reached the No.1 spot in both the Golfstat and Golfweek/Sagarin rankings for the first time in school history and have stayed in the top five all season. Owning the program’s best-ever team season scoring average by nearly a stroke at 291.18, South Carolina captured a pair of titles and are on a streak of 15-straight regular-season stroke play top-five finishes dating back to October of 2013.

Four of the program’s 10 lowest 54-hole tournament scores have been carded this season and a Gamecock has finished in the top five on the individual board in seven of eight events. Players on this season’s roster account for four of the seven rounds of 66 or better in program history, including Hillow’s program record 65 at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championships.

Dreher leads the Gamecocks with a season stroke average of 72.50, a score that tops the program’s single-season scoring average (minimum 18 rounds). In the program’s career scoring average (min. 55 rounds), Dreher checks in at No. 2 with a 74.26 average while Schmelzel is just behind her at 74.35. Dambaugh is just two rounds away from the career minimum 55 rounds, but would top the program’s career scoring average stat at 73.69. Dambaugh’s season stroke average of 73.70 is eighth in Gamecock history.

Last weekend, South Carolina traveled to Tempe, Ariz., for the PING/ASU Invitational. Facing one of the most competitive fields in the regular season that featured the top five teams in the country and 15 of the top 25 individuals, the Gamecocks tied for fourth with a 54-hole total of 870 (+6). Bolstered by a second-round 66, Dambaugh led the Gamecocks with a fifth-place finish at 3-under. Dreher also posted a top-10 result, carding rounds of 70-71-74 to finish the weekend 1-under par.

The Gamecocks await selection to the NCAA Regionals. The selection show is set to air on Mon., April 27 at 6 p.m. on the Golf Channel.