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May 21, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 2 South Carolina opens play in the 2015 NCAA Women’s Golf Championships on Friday, May 22, at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla. After capturing their third NCAA East Regional title since 2010, the Gamecocks are one of 24 teams to advance to the NCAA Championships and will be making their sixth-straight appearance. South Carolina will be paired with No. 1 Southern California and No. 3 UCLA for the first two rounds of stroke play.

Dates: Fri., May 22 – Wed., May 27
Location: Bradenton, Fla.
Course: The Concession Golf Club • Par 72 • 6,468 yards
The Lineup: Justine Dreher, Sarah Schmelzel, Mary Fran Hillow, Jia Xin Yang, Katelyn Dambaugh
The Field: 24 teams (GolfStat/GolfWeek Ranking) – 1/3 Southern Cal, 2/4 South Carolina, 3/2 UCLA, 4/5 Duke, 5/6 Arizona, 6/7 LSU, 7/1 Washington, 8/8 Arkansas, 9/9 Texas A&M, 10/10 Virginia, 11/12 Wake Forest, 12/11 Tennessee, 13/16 Stanford, 14/14 Northwestern, 18/17 Baylor, 19/21 UNLV, 22/20 UC Davis, 23/30 Tulane, 24/24 Alabama, 27/34 Texas Tech, 31/39 Purdue, 34/42 California, 30/40 NC State, 46/53 Campbell
Live Scoring: GolfStat
Tournament Central

Tournament Notes Get Acrobat Reader

This season’s NCAA Championship boasts a strong field with all 24 advancing teams landing in the top 46 of the most recent GolfStat rankings. The SEC and Pac 12 dominate the landscape, with each league advancing six teams out of the regional round to comprise half of the field. The Gamecocks have faced 19 of the 24 teams this season, compiling a 48-12-2 record against them.

The Gamecocks will employ the same five golfers that captured a runner-up finish at the SEC Championships and the NCAA East Regional crown. Senior Justine Dreher takes the top spot. Dreher owns a 72.25 scoring average to lead South Carolina, a total that is on pace to break the single-season program record. After a solid NCAA Regional, junior Sarah Schmelzel is the No. 2 with fellow junior Mary Fran Hillow in the third spot. Sophomores Jia Xin Yang and Katelyn Dambaugh round out the top five. Yang will be making her first championship appearance.

In addition to expanding from three regional sites to four, women’s golf will also use a new championship format adopting the same format as the men’s tournament. There will be 24 teams and 12 individuals who will compete in 54 holes of stroke play. Following the 54 holes of competition, the top 15 teams and top nine individuals not on an advancing team will advance for one additional day of stroke play to determine the top eight teams for match play competition and the 72 hole stroke play individual champion. The top eight teams after 72 holes will be placed into a bracket with the No. 1 seed playing the No. 8 seed, the No. 2 seed playing the No. 7 seed, the No. 3 seed playing the No. 6 seed and the No. 4 seed playing the No. 5 seed.

Named “Best New Private Course of 2006” by Golf Digest, The Concession was designed in honor of the 1969 Ryder Cup where Jack Nicklaus conceded a putt to Tony Jacklin. That gesture, known as “the concession,” rendered the two teams in a tie – the first in Ryder Cup history – and became known as one of the greatest acts of sportsmanship ever. The Concession Golf Club boasts an award-winning 520 acre Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course designed in association with British great and fellow World Golf Hall of Fame member, Tony Jacklin.

There are no parallel fairways. Each hole runs in a different direction to promote varying wind conditions throughout a round, a characteristic unique to only the world’s most elite courses. In 2011, Rolex bestowed two of their iconic clocks to the club – thus joining an elite group of approximately 40 courses worldwide selected for this honor.

The Men’s NCAA Golf Championships will also be held at The Concession (May 29-June 3).

The Golf Channel is deploying hours and coverage that women’s golf has never seen before at this season’s NCAA Championships at The Concession. In addition to coverage on Morning Drive and Golf Central, the Golf Channel will be providing live golf as follows:

Monday, May 25 – Final Round, Individual Stroke Play, 4-7 ET; Tuesday, May 26 – Quarterfinals and Semifinals of Match Play (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 3:30-7 ET); Wednesday, May 27 – Finals, Match Play (3-7 p.m. ET).

Bob Papa and Kay Cockerill will be the lead commentators for the coverage with Curt Byrum serving as Tower Announcer, with Notah Begay, Billy Ray Brown and Karen Stupples the on-course reporters. Steve Burkowski will also be on hand as Golf Channel’s College Insider.

After capturing the NCAA East Regional crown, the Gamecocks are one of just five teams to book a trip to the last six NCAA Championships. Southern Cal owns the longest active streak, with 24-straight NCAA appearances. UCLA follows with 15, while SEC foe Alabama owns 10. The Gamecocks and Stanford round out the group with six each.

With a new format of four regional sites this year, the Gamecocks were one of four No. 1 seeds and the only non-Pac 12 team to earn a top seed with No. 1 Southern California, No. 3 UCLA and No. 4 Arizona taking the other three slots. The Gamecocks and Trojans were the only top seeds to capture their regional titles, marking South Carolina’s third regional championship since 2010 and Southern Cal’s sixth straight. UCLA was runner up in the San Antonio Regional while Arizona was fourth at the South Bend Regional.

The Gamecocks are making their 15th NCAA Championship appearance all-time. Last season, South Carolina rallied after a difficult first two rounds to finish 13th. Despite the slow start, the Gamecocks set a new program record for low 72-hole score with an overall score of 1,164 (+44). The program’s best-ever finish came in 2012 when the Gamecocks carried momentum from an NCAA East Regional title to a fifth-place result.

This spring, the Gamecocks not only found historic success on the field, but also in the classroom. The women’s golf team posted the highest grade point average of Kalen Anderson’s tenure, owning a 3.705 GPA. It was the highest GPA of all Gamecock teams in Spring 2015. No South Carolina golfer turned in a GPA lower than 3.4.

South Carolina has finished in the top five in 18 of its last 19 stroke play events, a streak that dates back to September 2013. The outlier is last season’s NCAA Championships, when the Gamecocks rallied after a disappointing first two rounds to finish 13th with the lowest 72-hole score in school history (1,164, +44). This season’s 10 top-five finishes are a program record.

Senior Justine Dreher has been the undisputed leader of the Gamecocks this season and is currently ranked No. 6 in the GolfStat individual rankings. With her steady play and low rounds, Dreher leads the team with a 72.25 scoring average, a number that’s poised to be the lowest single-season stroke average in school history. When the spotlight is on, Dreher shines the brightest, posting five of her nine career top-five results in 11 postseason appearances. Four of Dreher’s last five postseason appearances have resulted in a top-five, including both postseason tournaments in 2015. Dreher finished in the top 12 at all four of her SEC Championships and has finished in the top 20 in three of her four regional appearances. Dreher’s best result at NCAA Championships was a T48 result in 2013. The Valbonne, France, native has posted 15 of her 28 rounds this year at par or better. Dreher’s consistent play has led to six top-five results this season, just one shy of tying the program record. Overall, the senior has nine career top fives to her name, second most in Gamecock history.

Playing another rigorous schedule, the seventh toughest in the nation according to GolfStat, the Gamecocks have produced a 59-14-2 record against the top 25. Only South Carolina (80 percent) and No. 1 Southern Cal (70.3 percent) own winning records of 70 percent or better when facing teams in the top 25.

Led by Justine Dreher’s T5 result, four Gamecocks finished in the top 25 as South Carolina claimed their third NCAA East Regional title since 2010 at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course in Raleigh, N.C. The win clinched the Gamecocks’ sixth-straight NCAA Championship appearance. After finishing the first round in sixth place, South Carolina turned in the only under-par team round of the event in the second round, posting a 2-under 286 to surge to the top of the leaderboard. In the final round, the Gamecocks held off Alabama, who drew within five strokes on the front nine, and LSU for an eight-stroke victory.