The Lady Razorbacks are coming off a solid performance and a second-place finish at the Central District Invitaitonal in Parrish, Fla., Feb. 21-22. Arkansas returns to the Sunshine State traveling to the SunTrust Lady Gator Invitational March 4-6, in Gainesville.
The Tenth Anniversary
As 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.
Arkansas at the Lady Gator Invitational
Arkansas is making its seventh appearance at the SunTrust Lady Gator Invitational this year. The Lady’Backs first competed at the event in 1997-98 finishing 16th in the 19 team field. The Lady’Backs’ best finish came the following year in 1998-99 when Arkansas was eighth overall in the 19-team field. Arkansas’ lowest round was a 945 and the 1998-99 event was weather-shortened with Arkansas’ carding a two-round 625.
Arkansas in the poll
The 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 event
The 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 party
The 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 sixth trip for all but Johnson who is making her fourth appearance this year.
Records fall early in the year
The 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 II
Stacy 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.
Arkansas recorded its lowest two-round total and lowest three-round total at the Central District Invitational last week. Arkansas posted a first-day 589 followed by an 881 for the event. Stacy Lewis won the event with a record-tying 216 with junior Amanda McCurdy one stroke off at 217.
About head coach Kelley Hester
Head 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 book
Of the 11 team and individual records kept at Arkansas, 10 have been set under head coach Kelley Hester. The one that hasen’t is most rounds in a career. The reason? 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 era
Since 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 3 21 of the 27 events they have competed in. Arkansas has won three events and had individuals tie for first in four events and one individual (Amanda McCurdy) earn medalist honors.
More about the records
So 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 along with freshman Stacy Lewis 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.
Last time out
The University of Arkansas put together five great scores in a back-and-forth battle with Missouri for the title at the Central District Invitational in Parrish, Fla. Arkansas was paced by freshman Stacy Lewis and junior Amanda McCurdy throughout the tournament with Lewis tying for the top spot. McCurdy went low for the Lady’Backs Tuesday with a one-under 71 finishing third overall as Arkansas finished second behind the Tigers.
Lewis Earns SEC Golf of the Week
University of Arkansas freshman golfer Stacy Lewis earned co-Southeastern Conference Golfer of the Week Feb. 24. Lewis, from The Woodlands, Texas, native, redshirted last season tied for medalist honors at the Central District Invitational in Parrish, Fla., earlier this week. Lewis carded a 216 tying the school record helping the 20th-ranked Lady Razorbacks to a school record 881 for the event. Lewis shares her honor this week with Auburn’s Diana Ramage. Lewis is just the second Lady Razorback in school history to earn SEC Golfer of the Week. She joins El Dorado, Ark., junior Amanda McCurdy who was honored last year. Lewis has made an impact on the Lady Razorbacks in her first season of collegiate golf. She leads the team with a 73.64 stroke average – a mark that would be an Arkansas single-season record if the year ended today. In addition Lewis has posted five top 25 finishes and had three top 10 performances this season.
Give us your Blessings
The 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 next
Arkansas next competes at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Classic, the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic, the BYU DIxie 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.