The Lady Razorbacks blasted out of the gates at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational leading the event after second round scores were counted. Arkansas couldn’t hang on for the win but redshirt freshman Stacy Lewis captured medalist honors after battling a tough course and stiff winds in the final round.
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, four top 10 finishes and six top 20s. Lewis earned Southeastern Conference Golfer of the Week for the second time following the Texas victory.
Lewis is SEC Golfer of the Week
Speaking of Stacy Lewis… For the second consecutive week University of Arkansas golfer Stacy Lewis captured Southeastern Conference Golfer of the Week honors. Lewis, a redshirt freshman from The Woodlands, Texas, earned medalist honors at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational last week at the University of Texas Golf Course in Austin, Texas. She carded an eight-over par 224 for the two-stroke win over a trio of golfers. Lewis’ medalist honor is the second of the year for the first-year player. She tied for the top spot at the Central District Invitational Feb. 21-22, in Parrish, Fla., and earned SEC Golfer of the Week honors then as well. Lewis has competed in all seven of Arkansas’ tournaments this year never finishing out of the top 25 and she has four top 10 finishes this season. Lewis is helping Arkansas to one of its best seasons on the links. The Lady’Backs are ranked 17th 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. Lewis’ 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.
About the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic
The three-day, 54-hole event takes place at the University of Georgia Golf Club in Athens. The par 72, 7,000-yard course. The Lady Razorbacks are making their 10th appearance in as many seasons at this event. In fact, it is the only event other than the SEC Championships that Arkansas has participated in each season.
At the Event
Arkansas has faced two of the toughest fields of the season in back-to-back events in Florida and Texas. This week, the field is a bit more spread out with several teams looking to make a move in the rankings at the midpoint of the spring season. The Lady Razorbacks face No. 83 Alabama, No. 3 Auburn, No. 6 Georgia, No. 81 Kentucky, No. 16 LSU, No. 65 Mississippi, No. 31 Mississippi State, No. 39 South Carolina and No. 9 Tennessee all from the SEC. In fact, the only SEC team missing this week is Vanderbilt. In addition, Arkansas takes on No. 47 East Carolina, No. 71 Florida State, No. 20 Furman, No. 32 Kent State, No. 49 Michigan State, No. 10 Ohio State, No. 13 Tulane and No. 11 Wake Forest this weekend.
About the traveling party
Redshirt freshman Stacy Lewis is making her eighth appearance in her first season of collegiate golf at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic. Also traveling is Amanda McCurdy, Gena Johnson, Courtney Mahon and Lindsey Hinshaw.
Individual Rankings Improve
Freshman Stacy Lewis checks in ranked 13th in the country according to the GolfWeek stats (through the first seven events). Junior Amanda McCurdy is next for the Lady Razorbacks ranked 43rd.
At The Liz Murphey
Arkansas is making its 10th appearance at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Golf Classic. Traditionally, this course and the field have challenged Arkansas and the Lady’Backs’ best finish came in 1999 when they finished 11th. Arkansas’ two best scores came in the last two seasons, with the Lady’Backs carding a 936 in 2003 finishing tied for 13th and a 919 for 12th place last year.
Arkansas Individuals at the Betsy
Senior Lina Axelsson has played the Liz twice in her career with round of 241 and 236 during her freshman and sophomore seasons, respectively. Senior Gena Johnson got a look at the course last year with a tie for 75th place shooting a 235. Juniors Amanda McCurdy and Courtney Mahon have both played the course twice in their careers. McCurdy carded a 237 to tie for 20th as a freshman and improved with a 221 to tie for 14th last year. Mahon posted a 236 tying for 62nd in her first year and tallied a 226 to tie for 35th last season. Junior Sarah Trew has also played the course. Trew transferred from Georgia two seasons ago and returned for the Liz last year with a 237.
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 258-186-7 record in two and a half seasons including a 86-24-1 mark this season (through the Betsy Rawls Invitational) for a .584 winning percentage overall. Hester’s winning percentage sky rockets to .783 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 302.43 mark (as of March 15). 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 74.10 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 20 rounds this season for 84 total rounds. That number ties the duo for the number four spot in the top 10.
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.
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.