The Lady Razorbacks are coming off a challenging course and higher scores at the SunTrust Lady Gator Invitational last week and rush back to the course for the 2005 Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational March 11-13, in Austin, Texas.
About the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational
The three-day, 54-hole event takes place at the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin. The par 72, 6,323-yard course opened in 2003. This is the first year for the Longhorn Invitational to be played at this course. Vanderbilt’s Chris Brady is the defending champion and the Commodores won the team title as well.
At the Event
Arkansas faces a top-flight field for the second week in a row. The Lady Razorbacks meet No. 1 Duke, No. 7 Arizona State, No. 8 Oklahoma State and No. 12 Missouri all in the top 15. See the box at the right for the complete tournament field.
About the traveling party
Arkansas has had the same five travel to the first two events this fall. Making those trips has been Stacy Lewis, Amanda McCurdy, Courtney Mahon, Gena Johnson and Sarah Trew. This week, however, Hester is looking to shake up the lineup. The traveling five are not yet set.
Against the Central Region
Arkansas has a chance to move up this week in the Central Region standings. The Lady Razorbacks currently rank fifth behind Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas. Arkansas faces all but the Buckeyes this weekend at the Betsy Rawls Invitational.
Individual Rankings Improve
Freshman Stacy Lewis checks in ranked 15th in the country according to the GolfWeek stats (through the first six events). Junior Amanda McCurdy is next for the Lady Razorbacks ranked 40th.
At The Besty Rawls Longhorn Invitational
Arkansas is making its fourth appearance at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational this year and its second under head coach Kelley Hester. The Lady Razorbacks were sixth in the eight-team field in 1999. They followed up with a ninth-place showing in the 12-team field in 2001 and were tied for seventh in 2003 under Hester. The event has taken place at several different golf courses over the years moving to the recently completed University of Texas Golf Course this season.
Arkansas Individuals at the Betsy
Senior Lina Axelsson has played at the Betsy Rawls competing for Arkansas in 2003 as a sophomore. Axelsson finished tied for 15th with a 235 (79-82-74). Juniors Amanda McCurdy and Courtney Mahon have also competed in Austin, both as freshman. McCurdy tied for 20th overall in 2003 with a 237 (79-80-78) while Mahon tied for 23rd with a 238 (75-83-80=238).
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.
Redshirt freshman Stacy Lewis leads the Lady Razorbacks this year. Lewis redshirted the 2003-04 season after back surgery during her senior season of high school. Since earning a spot in the lineup for the first event this season, Lewis has been steady with one tournament win and five top 11 finishes.
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 22 of 28 events and reached back-to-back NCAA Regionals. Hester has a 246-182-7 record in two and a half seasons including a 74-20-1 mark this season (through the SunTrust Lady Gator Invitational) for a .578 winning percentage overall. Hester’s winning percentage sky rockets to .788 this season.
If It Ended Today
If the season ended today, The Lady Razorbacks would post the program’s best team stroke average with a 301.23 mark (as of March 7). 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 stroke average wit a 74.00 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 17 rounds this season for 81 total rounds. That number ties the duo for the number five spot in the top 10. They need one more round to displace Melissa Murray (2000-03) who finished her career with 82 rounds played. If McCurdy and Mahon play three rounds in each of the four remaining regular season events and three more in an NCAA Regional, they would finish the year with 96 rounds at the conclusion of their junior seasons. That would rank them fourth overall, one round behind Kelly Hanwell (1997-00) in the number four spot with 97 and 17 rounds behind Johanna Danielsson 1997-00) with 113 rounds played.
Arkansas continues the season at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in late March and have added an event at the BYU Dixie Classic prior to the SEC Championship hosted by Ole Miss in Tunica, Miss.
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.
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.
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.
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.