The Lady Razorbacks finished sixth at the 2004 Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship this weekend. Arkansas bolted out of the gates leading the event with a first-round 289 but struggled in the second and third rounds at the Tennessee-hosted event.
The Tenth Anniversary
As the 2004-05 season approaches 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.
About the Lady Razorback Invitational
This year marks the seventh season Arkansas has hosted the Lady Razorback Invitational at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark.. Arkansas won last year’s event with then-sophomore Amanda McCurdy forcing a one-hole playoff for top individual honors. Arkansas carded an 898 (291-304-303) getting by Mississippi by seven strokes (905). Nebraska (920) was third followed by Texas A&M (923) and Oral Roberts (938) to round out the top five.
Scheduled to compete
This year’s field includes Alabama, Arkansas, Augusta State, Illinois State, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oral Roberts, Southern Miss, Southwest Missouri State, Texas A&M, Texas El Paso, Western Michigan and Wisconsin.
Arkansas at the Lady Razorback Invitational
Arkansas has won its home tournament three of the previous six seasons including two wins under head coach Kelley Hester in 2002 and 2003. The Lady’Backs’ best three-round total at the event came with last year’s 898. Arkansas has never won the individual title with Amanda McCurdy falling in a playoff hole last year.
Haven’t I seen you before?
Ten of the 19 teams scheduled to compete this year have taken part in the Lady Razorback Invitational before. Arkansas and Oral Roberts have been in it from the beginning. The Lady’Backs have three wins; a third, fourth and a seventh-place finish. Oral Roberts’ best finish was a second-place showing in 2002 with a 946.
Wait, I’ve seen you too
Here’s a quick look at who else is returning to the Lady Razorback Invitational this year and how many times they have competed at the event: Arkansas (7); Augusta State (3), Illinois State (4); Iowa State (2); Mississippi (2); Nebraska (3), Oral Roberts (7); Southern Miss (2); Southwest Missouri State (4); and Texas El Paso (2).
This year’s newcomers
New to the event are Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Western Michigan and Wisconsin.
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 last week after an idle week remaining at No. 19 through the Oct. 7 poll.
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 party has not been determined at the time of these notes. However, eight of the 10 Lady Razorbacks will compete with three competing as individuals.
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.
About head coach Kelley Hester
Head coach Kelley Hester begins 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. Hester has an Arkansas school record of 185-135-6 prior to the Jeannine McHaney Invitational.
Speaking of the record book
Of 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 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 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 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 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 out
Arkansas blasted out of the gates at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship in Knoxville, Tenn., last week leading after first round play. The Lady’Backs posted an opening day 289 leading the talented field. But higher scores followed Arkansas in the second and third rounds as the Lady’Backs fell to sixth overall.
This and That (as of 10-9-04)
Several Lady Razorbacks ranked among the country’s leaders in the latest Golfstat Statistical comparison. Here’s a look: Stacy Lewis was 13th with a 72.00 average score; Lewis was tied for 12th with the lowest round (a 68); and tied for 11th in par three scoring averaging 2.90.
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 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.