GREAT EXPECTATIONS: The University of Arkansas opens the 2005-06 golf season with high expectations after a record-setting season last year. Arkansas opens the year on the road traveling to the Mason Rudolph Championship hosted by Vanderbilt Sept. 23-25.
ABOUT THE MASON RUDOLPH: This is Arkansas’ first appearance at the Fifth Annual Mason Rudolph Championship hosted by Vanderbilt University. Duke is the defending champion and Georgia’s Jackie Beers was last year’s medallist. This year’s field includes Arizona, Arkansas, Arizona State, Auburn, Duke, Florida, Furman, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas, Tulane, UCLA, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: The Mason Rudolph takes place at Ironhorse at the Legends Club in Nashville, Tenn., and will serve somewhat as an SEC preview for the Lady’Backs. Vanderbilt also hosts this year’s SEC Championship on the same course April 15-17. Arkansas was third at last year’s SEC Championship with redshirt freshman Stacy Lewis earning medallist honors.
FIVE AND ONE: Arkansas qualified five Lady’Backs for the trip but head coach Kelley Hester is allowed to bring one more team member to compete as an individual. Making the first trip of the year for Arkansas is Courtney Mahon, Stacy Lewis, Ashley Medders, Amanda McCurdy, Lucy Nunn and Lindsey Hinshaw. Senior Mahon and sophomore Lewis tied during the playoffs with Medders posting some of her best qualifying scores ever to come in third. McCurdy was forth and Nunn and Hinshaw had to have a playoff for the final spot.
ARKANSAS IN THE POLL: The Lady Razorbacks finished the year ranked 19th in the final Golfweek poll. Arkansas opens the year ranked 11th in the preseason poll headlined by sophomore Stacy Lewis ranked eighth as an individual. Coming off a record-setting season in 2004-05, Arkansas makes its highest appearance in a preseason poll in the 11-year history of the program. The Lady Razorbacks were one of seven Southeastern Conference teams selected in the top 30. Lewis became the program’s inaugural first-team all-SEC selection this year after winning the league’s individual title. Also named SEC Freshman of the Year, Lewis went on to capture National Golf Coaches Association All-American honors as well.
ANOTHER POLL: The Lady Razorbacks and Stacy Lewis are also doing well in other polls. Arkansas finished the year ranked 19th in the GolfWeek poll and begin ranked 11th. Arkansas opens the year ranked 13 in the GolfWorld preseason poll with Lewis No. 9 in the country among players to watch.
NEWCOMER GETS FEET WET: Lucy Nunn was expected to have an immediate impact on the program and is doing just that qualifying for her first event. Hester looks for Nunn to be a significant contributor this year.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME: Arkansas gains a step at the semester break when Tanica van As joins the team in January after graduting high school in South Africa. Van As comes to Arkansas with a resume full of international experience and honors captured at several courses including her home courses of Wedgwood Golf Club and the Port Elizabeth Golf Club.
Some of van As accomplishments include representing the Eastern Province ladies since 1998 at the age of 12. In addition she became the first girl to be a member of a team in a traditionally boys tournament that same year. Van As’ international experience includes the Jack Newton International Junior Classic in Australia, the Test against the Netherlands in George, South Africa, and the World Junior Golf Championships in Jamaica, Mexico and California. She also competed at the Mexican Ladies Strokeplay, the Junior British Open, the Esperito Santo World Team Championships, SAAB International and the Commonwealth Games.
The youngest of two children to Hennie and Renette van As, she has one older sister, Luschka. Van As’ father is a law professor at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.