The University of Arkansas learned Monday, April 25, that it would make its fourth trip, the third consecutive trip, to the NCAA Regional Championships. Arkansas, a member of the Central Region, travels to Lubbock, Texas, May 5-7.
About the Regional Field
Auburn, depending on which poll you consult, enters the tournament as the top-ranked team. The Tigers are ranked third in the most commonly consulted poll, GolfWeek.com. Arizona State checks in next ranked fourth overall followed by No. 14 New Mexico, No. 12 LSU, No. 15 Wake Forest, No. 21 Texas, No. 18 Missouri and No. 20 Arkansas in the order in which they were announced.
Also scheduled to compete are No. 27 Michigan, No. 22 Tulsa, No. 28 Texas Christian, No. 32 Southern Methodist, No. 33 Purdue, No. 39 Michigan State, No. 36 Kent State, No. 31 Baylor, No. 38 Texas A&M, No. 47 South Florida, No. 51 Texas Tech, No. 57 Notre Dame and No. 201 Long Island.
Arkansas at Regionals
This year marks the fourth that Arkansas has traveled to Regionals. The first trip came in 1999-00 when the Ulrika Belline-lead team was selected to the East Regional. There were only two regionals (East and West) at that time and the Lady’Backs traveled to Ohio State finishing 24th out of 25 teams.
Kelley Hester took over the program in 2002-03 and promptly guided Arkansas to back-to-back-to-back Regional appearances in the three-region alinement. In 2003, the Lady’Backs traveled to Lincoln, Neb., finishing tied for 15th overall in the 21-team field. Arkansas was 16th last year in Normal, Ill.
Year Site Place Score
2000 Columbus 24th 323-315-310=948
2003 Lincoln T15 315-310-319-944
2004 Normal 16th 308-325-317=950
Individuals at Regionals
Senior Gena Johnson made her first Regional appearance last year while juniors Amanda McCurdy and Courtney Mahon have been twice.
Johnson withdrew last year after a scorecard mistake on the first day. McCurdy tied for 44th in her first appearance, she carded a 237 (80-76-81). She tied for 15th last year with McCurdy shooting a 228 (76-76-77). Mahon tied for 24th in her freshman season with a 231 (75-78-78). She tied for 63rd last year scoring a 238 (77-82-79).
Senior Sarah Trew helped Arkansas at Regionals last year tying for 78th overall with a 242 (77-85-80).
Texas Tech hosts Central Region
Texas Tech University is one of three Regional hosts this year along with Florida in the East and New Mexico State in the West. The top 18 teams in the country are seeded and assigned to a site regardless of their Regional alignment. The remaining teams are sent to their regular-season regional site.
About the Rawls Course
The Rawls Course is a par 72, 6,328-yard course carved out of a West Texas cotton field by Tom Doak. The Rawl’s Course fairways cater to big hitters off the tee, and the exceptional tif-sport Bermuda turf will cause the ball to roll considerable distances. Wide fairways and big greens provide many options for the novice player. But, low handicap golfers who want to reach the green in regulation may have a tough go, as approach shots are a bit problematic. Most greens are fortified with small, finger-like, but very deep bunkers. With the fringe mowed to fairway height, approaches coming in hot won’t hold the green. Although the fairways leave plenty of room for error, only a slice of each link provides the right angle for a shot at the flag. On many holes the best shot is a bump and run, bouncing short of the green rolling toward the pin. The good news is that you won’t have to worry about O.B. or lost balls. The wide-open configuration, minimal water trouble and lack of Godzila hazards will minimize penalty strokes.
Lady’Backs Know the Course
Arkansas has an advantage this year at the Regional Championships – they know the course. The Lady Razorbacks competed at the Jeannine McHaney Invitational on the Rawls Course Sept. 24-26, this year in their second event of the season. Arkansas finished fifth overall in the rain-shorted event with redshirt freshman Stacy Lewis third as an individual. The Lady’Backs were consistent at the event with a 301-301 in the two rounds. Lewis posted a then-school record 68 in the first round (a mark she bettered at SECs). See page five for the tournament’s complete results.
Lady’Backs fourth in Central Region
The Lady Razorbacks have hovered around the number four spot in the Central Region all season trailing Oklahoma State, Ohio State and Missouri much of the year. Arkansas defeated Oklahoma State head-to-head in the first tournament of the year but finished behind Missouri at Texas Tech. They were behind Ohio State in Knoxville, defeated Missouri at the Lady Razorback Invitational and finished behind the Tigers at the Central District while defeating Ohio State. The back-and-forth battle continued with Ohio State ahead of Arkansas at Florida, Oklahoma State ahead of Arkansas at Texas but the Lady’Backs finished better than Missouri in Austin. Finally, Ohio State got the better of Arkansas at the Liz Murphey. Arkansas is 1-1 this year against Oklahoma State, 1-3 against Ohio State and 2-2 against Missouri this year.
Speaking of Records
Kelley Hester took over an Arkansas golf program that was 354-611-7. Since Hester took over Arkansas is 285-203-7 including a 113-41-1 (.732) record this year.
More About Records
The Lady Razorbacks have rewritten the record books since head coach Kelley Hester took over for the 2002-03 season. The lowest competitive round record fell just last weekend when redshirt freshman Stacy Lewis counted a 67 in the final round of the SEC Championships. That mark erased a 68 that both Lewis and junior Amanda McCurdy held. Lewis also finished the SEC Championship with a three-round 214 bettering the previous record of 216 also held by both Lewis and McCurdy. Lewis holds the record for lowest two-round tournament with a 141 in the rain-shortened Jeannine McHaney Invitational this year bettering the 147 of Adrienne Mucci set in 1999. The single-season stroke average is also in jeopardy with Lewis’ 74.00 stroke average. Although the season is not over, the current record is 74.85 held by McCurdy and set last season – that mark would also be a career stroke average record (76.23, McCurdy, two seasons). Lewis and McCurdy will also challenge the single-season rounds played record this year. The current record is 33 held by McCurdy and Courtney Mahon and set in the 2003-04 season. Both Lewis and McCurdy have 28 rounds played this year. The Regional event boosts the duo to 31 rounds and a trip to the NCAA Championship by either or both would rewrite the record.
As a team, Arkansas tied the record for lowest single round with a 289 in the first round of the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Classic this year. They bettered the previous three-round total of 894 set in 2003 with an 881 set at the Central District Invitational in the first event of the spring and bettered the two round total with a 602 at the Jeannine McHaney Invitational. Finally, the team is on track to set the lowest single-season team stroke average mark. The current record is 305.82 set last year. This year’s team average is 303.89 heading into Regionals.
The Lady Razorbacks found themselves in a nail-biter the final day of the 2005 Southeastern Conference Championship in Tunica, Miss.. Arkansas teed off at 8:30 a.m., as one of the first six teams on the golf course. When the Lady’Backs finished around 2:00 p.m., they came into the club house in fifth place overall with six teams, including the top teams, still out on the course. As the Lady’Backs grabbed a quick lunch, the temperatures elevated on the golf course along with everyone’s scores. By the time the Lady’Backs finished lunch, it looked as though there could be a three-way tie for the win – and Arkansas was among the leaders.
The Lady Razorbacks waited on pins and needles by the leader board as score reports and updates came in from the 18th hole but, when all the numbers were totaled, Arkansas found itself on the outside looking in — by one stroke. Third-ranked Auburnsurrendereded a 24-stroke lead in the final round and was caught by No. 4 Georgia forcing a playoff that Auburn won in two holes.
About Stacy Lewis
Redshirt freshman Stacy Lewis posted a school and course record 67 winning the individual the 2005 Southeastern Conference Championship individual title in Tunica, Miss., Sunday.
Lewis birdied the 10th hole giving the Woodlands, Texas, native the lead for good as she finished with a 67 on the day and 214 (72-75-67).
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Lewis. “It’s amazing. I really didn’t start to feel it until about the fourth or fifth hole. It was just so easy today. I kept my composure and made a lot of putts today.”
Lewis opened the day with a blistering three-under 33 on the par-72, 6,281-yard Tunica National Golf Course as she and the Lady Razorbacks teed off from number one. She ripped her tee shot off number one, a 345-yard straight away par four, staying out of the multiple water and bunker hazards, to go one-under right away.
She played the next two holes even but bettered her score with birdies on four and five. Lewis drained a lengthy putt on the fourth hole, a 162-yard par-3 and a sloping green. She improved to three-under on the fifth hole, a 349-yard dog-leg left.
Lewis went lower at the turn counting a three on the par-4 tenth hole but gave it back on the 12th hole remaining at three-under. Three birdies and a bogey on the back left Lewis at five under on the day giving Arkansas its first ever SEC winner. Lewis’ victory is the third of the season for the freshman.
Lewis’ finish is the best in program history bettering the previous mark, a tie for fifth overall, from Lina Axelsson in 2003, in Lexington, Ky. The Lady’Backs had two other top 10 finishes, both tied for ninth with Kristy Kortuem in 2000 and Adrienne Mucci in 1999.
More About Arkansas
As a team Arkansas improved several spots for a third-place finish, also the best ever in school history. The Lady Razorbacks posted a final round 295 with a solid 73 from senior Gena Johnson. Senior Lindsey Hinshaw improved in the final round as well counting a 77 while junior Courtney Mahon posted a 78. Junior Amanda McCurdy eagled the 10th hole, the only eagle of the tournament, finishing with a 79 on the day.
Johnson tied for 19th was the senior’s best conference finish ever as was McCurdy’s tie for 26th overall.
Lewis in the polls
Redshirt freshman Stacy Lewis is ranked 11th in the country this week in the most recent Golfweek.com poll with a player rating of 72.39. Lewis is the third highest ranked SEC player trailing No. 5 Diana Ramage of Auburn and Tennessee’s Violeta Retamoza who is ninth. She is the only freshman in the top 11. Lewis ranks third in the SEC again trailing Retamosa and Ramage who are flip-flopped and ranked first and second, respectivley.
More about Lewis
Stacy Lewis is tied for 11th in the country for low round with her 67 from the SEC Championship. She is 36th in the country for first round scoring average with a 74.60 mark and 22nd in the country in her final round scoring average with a 73.70 mark. She is 21st in the nation on her average score with a 74.00 and 22nd with a 2.21 mark compared to par. Lewis ranks 14th in the country for par four scoring wit a 4.15 and is tied for 28th in birdies with 65 this year. Lewis averages 11.96 pars per round to rank eighth overall and is sixth for bogeys per round with just 2.96.
Nine SEC Teams Make Field
INDIANAPOLIS The NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Committee has announced the teams and individuals selected to participate in the 2005 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championships Regionals. Nine SEC Teams made the field of 63 for the event. In the East Regional, hosted by the University of Florida, will be Florida, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. In the Central Regional, hosted by Texas Tech, will be Auburn, LSU and Arkansas while Georgia and Tennessee will be participating in the West Regional at New Mexico State University. Three regional tournaments will be conducted May 5-7 to determine the championships field. Regional tournaments are considered preliminary rounds of NCAA championships competition, and all national championships policies will apply. A total of 324 participants have been selected for the regional competition. Of these players, 126 will advance to the championships finals May 17-20. Eight teams and two individuals will advance from each region. The championships finals will be held at Sunriver Resort on the Meadows Course, Sunriver, Oregon, hosted by Oregon State University and Sunriver Resort.
Arkansas must finish in the top eight at the NCAA Central Region Championship to advance to the NCAA Championship in Sun River, Ore.