The Lady Razorbacks recovered with a solid final round at last-minute addition of the BYU Dixie Classic at Entrada at Snow Canyon Golf Course in St. George, Utah, April 4-5. Strong winds and heavy rains made all the scores high and Arkansas, with a first-time lineup, struggled in the six-and-a-half hour first round before the second round of the day was cancelled. The Lady’Backs came back with a final round 301 as Stacy Lewis and Amanda McCurdy finished in the top 10 for Arkansas.
Arkansas travels to Tunica, Miss., for the 2005 Southeastern Conference Championships at Tunica National Golf Course. Mississippi hosts this year’s event April 15-17.
About the Field
Arkansas faces a tough Southeastern Conference field this weekend. The league’s teams are ranked all over the place depending on which poll you consult but Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee are the consistent leaders. In this week’s GolfWeek.com poll, Auburn is on top ranked third in the country followed by No. 4 Georgia and No. 8 Tennessee in the top 10. Florida checks in at No. 11, followed by No. 12 LSU, No. 18 Arkansas, No. 31 Mississippi State, No. 46 South Carolina, No. 54 Vanderbilt, No. 64 Mississippi, No. 77 Kentucky and No. 82 Alabama. Georgia is the highest ranked SEC Team in the Golfstat poll at No. 2. Auburn is ranked seventh, Tennessee eighth and LSU 10th. Florida checks in at No. 14 with Arkansas 20th. Auburn, however, is the top team in the most recent coaches poll at No. 3 with Georgia coming in sixth. Tennessee is No. 10, LSU No. 14, Florida No. 15 and Arkansas No. 19 in that poll. See the box on page one for all the rankings.
About the Course
This year marks the first time the SEC Tournament has been held at Tunica and only the third time in Mississippi. The 1993 championship took place in Jackson, while the 1994 tourney was staged in West Point. Located on Hwy 61 North in Tunica, Tunica National features a 7,210-yard, par 72, 18-hole public golf course, designed by renowned architect Mark McCumber. The facility also boasts a six-hole par-3 practice course, 20,000-square-foot clubhouse, circular driving range, and Golf Training Academy. Tunica National Golf & Tennis Club completes its first year of operation in May.
Arkansas at SECs
The Lady Razorbacks are making their 10th appearance at the SEC Championships. Arkansas’ best finish since adding golf in the 1995-96 season was a fifth-place showing in 1999 when Auburn hosted the Championships. Arkansas was sixth in 2003 at Kentucky, eighth in 2000 when the Lady’Backs hosted the event at Pinnacle Country Club and ninth last year at LSU.
Individuals at SECs
Arkansas has had three golfers finish in the top 10 at the conference championship. Adrienne Mucci was the first to do it tying for ninth place with a 230 in 1999 at Auburn. Kristy Kortuem also tied for ninth the following year in 2000 at Arkansas with a 229. Arkansas’ best individual finish with a tie for fifth by Lina Axelsson at Kentucky in 2003. Axelsson carded a 223 that year.
Redshirt freshman Stacy Lewis has made quick work of all the courses she has faced in her first season of collegiate golf. The first-year player has two tournament wins, most recently the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational, six top 10 finishes and nine top 25s. Lewis earned Southeastern Conference Golfer of the Week twice this year, joining teammate Amanda McCurdy as the only Lady’Backs to ever earn weekly conference honors. Lewis’ SEC honor is the first time in program history a Lady Razorback golfer has earned SEC weekly honors more than once in a season or in her career.
More about Lewis
Speaking of Stacy Lewis…Lewis is helping Arkansas to one of its best seasons on the links. The Lady’Backs are ranked 18th in the Golfweek.com poll with Lewis ranked 13th as an individual. In addition, Lewis is the second highest ranked freshman in the country behind Arizona State’s Louise Stahle who is the No. 1 player overall this week. She is the third highest ranked SEC athlete this week trailing Auburn’s Diana Ramage and Tennessee’s Violeta Retamoza.
About the traveling party
Making the trip this year is redshirt freshman Stacy Lewis, juniors Amanda McCurdy, Courtney Mahon and Lindsey Hinshaw and senior Gena Johnson.
How Low Can You Go?
Arkansas has improved in nearly every statistical category this year. The Lady Razorbacks carded an 881 in the first event of the spring at the Central District Classic. That mark bettered the previous best of 890 set in the first meet of the 2004-05 season at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M. The new mark of 881 is 13 strokes less than he 894 that was the record when the year began.
Speaking of Low
Stacy Lewis fired a 216 twice this season, first at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational and again at the Central District Classic. That mark ties the school record carded twice by Amanda McCurdy. Arkansas individuals have scored 216 four times (twice by Lewis and twice by McCurdy). Courtney Mahon and McCurdy have each counted a 217 rounding out the top five lowest three-round totals in school history. Three of the top five marks have come this season and all five have come under head coach Kelley Hester.
Arkansas also recorded a two-round best 589 was reached in the Central District Classic. That mark is now the school record and will be hard to erase as the Lady Razorbacks don’t often play in tournaments where 36 holes are played in a single day.
Round and Round
Arkansas’ best single round score of 289 set at the Adidas Fall Classic in 2002, stood until this season with Arkansas first equaled, then broke that record. Arkansas carded a 289 in the first round of the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship in the fall. The Lady Razorbacks bettered that mark with a 296, then a 292 both at the Central District Invitational.
Hester To The Rescue
Since taking over the program for the 2002-03 season, head coach Kelley Hester’s teams have finished in the top 10 in 23 of 29 events and reached back-to-back NCAA Regionals. Hester has a 276-171-7 (.615) record in two and a half seasons including a 104-39-1 mark this season for a .726 winning percentage overall.
If It Ended Today
If the season ended today, The Lady Razorbacks would post the program’s best team stroke average with a 304.16 mark. That betters last year’s 305.82 final stroke average. In addition, if the season ended today, Stacy Lewis would move into the number one spot for single-season and career stroke average with a 74.32 mark.
More Career Marks
Juniors Amanda McCurdy and Courtney Mahon have broken into the top 10 for career rounds played this year. Both entered the year with 64 rounds played and both have participated in 25 rounds this season for 89 total rounds. That number ties the duo for the number four spot in the top 10.
The Tenth Anniversary
As the 2004-05 season edges to a close, 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.
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 rewritten the record books.
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 23 of the 29 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.
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.