About ArkansasThe Lady Razorbacks return to action after the long winter break this week traveling to the Sunshine State for the Central District Invitational. The event takes place at the River Wilderness Golf and Country Club in Parrish, Fla., and is hosted by MIchigan State.
The Tenth AnniversaryAs the 2004-05 season edges passed the halfway mark, the University of Arkansas celebrates its 10th season on the links. Arkansas first fielded a golf team in 1995-96 under one-year head coach Sue Ertl. Ertl actually started in 1994-95 with a year to recruit and build the foundation for the Lady’Backs. Ulrika Fisher (later Belline) took over the program in 1996-97, coaching through the 2001-02 season. She helped Arkansas to its best showing at the Southeastern Conference Championships with a fifth-place finish in 1998-99 and to the team’s first NCAA Regional appearance the following year.This year, the team has 10 players on the roster in the 10th season. It is the largest roster Arkansas has ever fielded.
Scheduled to compete at the Central District InvitationalThis year’s field includes Arkansas, Baylor, Indiana, Kansas State, Louisiana State, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Southern Methodist, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
Arkansas at the Central District InvitationalArkansas is making its third appearance at the Central District Invitational this year. The Lady’Backs first competed at River Wilderness in 2000-01 finishing 10th of 11 teams in an event that was held in the fall. Arkansas returned last year finishing fifth in the 15-team field the last week of February. Arkasnas carded a 307-303-311=921 in the event.
Arkansas in the pollThe Lady Razorbacks opened the year ranked 31st in the preseason Golfweek poll. After one event, however, Arkansas vaulted up to 19th in the poll. The Lady’Backs continue to climb checking in at No. 13 recently (Sept. 27). Arkansas moved to 24th before the Lady Razorback Invitational and remained No. 19 through the Oct. 7 poll. Arkansas finished 19th in the Golfweek poll to close the fall.
Arkansas adds eventThe University of Arkansas added a play date to this year’s schedule. Arkansas had one open day and a rain out of the second round at the Jeannine McHaney Invitational freed up another. As a result, the Lady’Backs added the BYU Dixie Classic hosted by Brigham Young April 4-5. The two-day, 54-hole event takes place at Entrada Golf Course in St. George, Utah.
About the traveling partyThe traveling five played through a qualifier last week earning a spot for this trip. Making the trip is Stacy Lewis, Amanda McCurdy, Sarah Trew, Gena Johnson and Courtney Mahon. This is the fifth trip for all but Johnson who is making her third appearance this year.
Records fall early in the yearThe 2004-05 edition of the Lady Razorbacks didn’t waste any time etching their names into the record books. In the first event of the year Stacy Lewis tied the school record with a three-round 216. In addition, Arkansas’ rounds of 299-296-295 all rank in the top seven and the final 890 total is a school record.
Records part IIStacy Lewis continued her record-setting play with a first round 68 at the Jeannie McHaney Invitational. That round tied the school record for lowest single round score.
About head coach Kelley HesterHead coach Kelley Hester is in the midst of her third season with the Lady Razorbacks in 2004-05. Since taking over the reigns, the Lady’Backs have made back-to-back NCAA Regional appearances and nearly rewritten the record books.
Speaking of the record bookOf the 11 team and individual records kept at Arkansas, nine have been set under head coach Kelley Hester. The two that haven’t are lowest total for a two-round tournament and most rounds in a career. The reason? First, Arkansas has not intentionally played in a two-round tournament since Hester took over. Adrienne Mucci holds that record and set it in 1999. Amanda McCurdy’s name does appear third on that list after the Verizon “Mo” Morial was shorted to two rounds due to rain in 2002.Second, Hester hasn’t been at Arkansas long enough to have one of her players in the most career rounds category. Johanna Danielsson (1997-00) leads that list with 113 rounds played.
In the Hester eraSince Kelley Hester took over the top spot for the Lady’Backs Arkansas has enjoy significant success and growth. In two seasons, the Lady’Backs have finished in the top 10 in 16 of the 22 events they have competed in. Arkansas has won three events and had individuals tie for first in three events and one individual (Amanda McCurdy) earn medalist honors.
More about the recordsSo what records do the Lady’Backs hold? Amanda McCurdy holds the top three spots for lowest competitive round leading with a 68 carded at the adidas Fall Classic in 2002. She holds the top two spots for lowest three-round tournament total with a pair of 216s and leads Arkansas for lowest stroke average in a season with a 74.85 average in 33 rounds in 2003-04. In addition, she holds the record for lowest stroke average for a career with a 76.23 mark in two seasons and is tied for first for the most rounds in a season with Courtney Mahon. The duo both played 33 rounds in 2003-04.Arkansas’ team records include lowest competitive round in a tournament with a 289 at the adidias Fall Classic in 2002, lowest total for a three-round tournament with an 894 at The Shootout at The Legends, lowest two-round tournament total with a 617 a the Verizon “Mo” Morial (shortened due to weather) and lowest single-season stroke average with a 305.82 all set last season.
Last time outThe University of Arkansas golf team shaved three strokes off the first round team total hanging on to third place at the Lady Razorback Invitational at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark. , to end the fall. Arkansas battled higher-than-average scores all weekend but hung on with a 920 (303-310-307) in the final outing of the fall season. The Lady’Backs, ranked 20th in this week’s Golfweek.com poll, battled strong winds Monday and faced fog and colder temperatures on Tuesday to finish third in the 19-team field.
Lewis Leads Lady’BacksRedshirt freshman Stacy Lewis leads Arkansas to start the fall with a 74.09 stroke average after four fall events. That mark also ranks Lewis 16th, tops among Lady’Backs, in the Southeastern Conference as the first league release is issued. Junior Amanda McCurdy ranks 27th in the league with a 74.82 average and senior Gena Johnson is 35th at 75.67. As a team, the Lady’Backs rank seventh in the SEC with a 300.1 stroke average per round.
Give us your BlessingsThe Lady Razorbacks opened the year in their new home at Blessings in Johnson, Ark. The new course, located just minutes from campus, is a par-72, 7,500-yard course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.. Also completed is the Fred W. and Mary B. Smith Razorback Golf Training Facility with several indoor practice bays, locker rooms, a video swing analysis station and coaches offices used exclusively by the Lady Razorbacks and Razorbacks.
What’s up nextArkansas opens the spring Feb. 21-22, at the Central District Invitational hosted by Michigan State in Parrish, Fla. Arkansas comes home only to turn back around to the Sunshine State for the SunTrust Lady Gator Invitational March 4-6. Arkansas also competes at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Classic, the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic and the Southeastern Conference Championship hosted by Mississippi this year. The Lady’Backs also look to return to the NCAA Regional and the NCAA Championship.