This WeekArkansas returns to the links this week opening the 2007-08 season at the Wildcat Invitational hosted by Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Friday-Sunday, Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
Who’s traveling?First-year head coach Shauna Estes and her new assistant Mike Adams put the team through its paces and a tough qua lifer before making the final cut. Arkansas will travel five “team” players and one individual who will not count toward the team score. Scheduled to make the trip is senior Stacy Lewis, sophomore Kristin Ingram, sophomore Alex Schulte, junior Lucy Nunn and freshman Kelli Shean. Sophomore Tanica van As is also making the trip as an individual.
About the Wildcat Fall InviteThis year’s event takes place Friday-Sunday, Sept. 29-Oct. 1, in Lexington, Ky. The 14-team field competes at the University Club on the Big Blue Course. The course will play 6,157 yards and is a par 72. This year’s event will be 54 holes with 18 scheduled for each day.
This year’s fieldThis year’s Wildcat Fall Invitational field features 14 teams from the Central and East Region. They are Alabama, Arkansas, Central Florida, Florida, Indiana State, Illinois, Kentucky, Marshall, Memphis, Miami, Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi State, Richmond and South Florida. Arkansas is 25-27 all time against Alabama. The Lady’Backs are 8-8 against Central Florida, 8-30 against the Gators, 6-4 versus Illinois, 19-17 against Kentucky, 5-13 against Memphis, 3-3 against Miami, 3-0 against MTSU, 18-29 against Mississippi State, 1-0 against Richmond and 0-1 against South Florida. The Lady’Backs are meeting Indiana State and Marshall for the first time.
Arkansas at the Wildcat Fall InvitationalThis is Arkansas first appearance at the Wildcat Fall Invitational. The Lady Razorbacks appeared at the Lady Kat Invitational three times between 1995 and 2002 with their 1997 appearance being the best. Arkansas finished seventh of 18 teams with a 942 (312-310-320).
A Coaching ChangeThe subtle coaching change puts former Arkansas assistant coach Shauna Estes at the reigns of the 2007-08 team. Former head coach Kelley Hester returned to her alma mater in the late summer. A smooth transition followed as Estes was already an integral part of the day-to-day operations of the Lady’Back team. Named the national assistant coach of the year in May, Estes becomes the fourth head coach in the history of the Lady’Back program. Estes added an assistant as well, welcoming Mike Adams to the fold this year.
The Senior Class Arkansas has three seniors on this year’s roster. In addition to Stacy Lewis, Ashley Medders and Whitney Sylvan are looking to go out with a bang in 2007-08. Lewis earned almost ever collegiate accolade both on the links and in the classroom plus owns all but one school record at Arkansas. Lewis isn’t the only Lady’Back looking to end her collegiate career on a high note. Ashley Medders is also wrapping up her final year of college golf and is looking to build on a really good junior season. Last year, Medders competed in nine of Arkansas’ events and was the Lady’Backs’ number two or three finisher much of the season. Medders tied her career-best finish with a 223 at the Susie Maxwell Berning Classic and was a stroke off that with a 224 at the Peg Barnard Invitational. She had five rounds scoring less than 230. Whitney Sylvan is also looking forward to her senior season. Sylvan’s role has been a bit more limited but no less important. She saw action in three events last year and set a personal best with a round of 74 at the Susie Maxwell Berning Invitational.
The Junior Class Lucy Nunn is the lone junior on this year’s team. Nunn competed in every event for Arkansas last year and ranked second on the squad with a 75.55 stroke average. She was a near-miss for SEC honors and has steadily improved her game in two seasons. Nunn’s best finish last year was a tie for eighth place with a 224 at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational, and her best round of 217 came at the Susie Maxwell Berning Invitational. Nunn was pretty consistent in her first-ever SEC performance and was solid number two for Arkansas for much of the season.
The Sophomore Class The sophomore class is the largest on the roster with five members and a host of talent. Kristin Ingram, Tiffany Phelps, Corinna Rees, Alex Schulte and Tanica van As bring a variety of skills to the team. Ingram proved to be a nice surprise. She transferred to Arkansas at the semester break and broke into the traveling lineup almost immediately. The Pasadena, Calif., native finished the year playing in six events with a 77.67 stroke average. Her season/career-best at Arkansas was a 228 with rounds of 73-76-79 at the SEC Championship and her opening rounds of 76-74 put her among the top players at the Central Region Championship. Schulte also was heavily relied upon to score for Arkansas last year. The Broken Arrow, Okla., product emerged as the Lady’Backs’ top finisher at the SEC Championship finishing tied for 14th with a 222 – her best round of the season. Schulte finished the year third on the team in stroke average with a 76.57 mark competing in 10 of 11 events as a true freshman. Rees had a balanced freshman campaign playing in three fall and three spring events. She carded her season/career-best round of 227 on a grand stage at the NCAA Central Regional Championship with rounds of 73-77-77. Her top finish was a tie for 33rd, also at the regional. Van As joined the Lady Razorbacks at the semester in 2006 and did not play while acclimating to college life, redshirting her first year. She played in three events for Arkansas last year with a 236 at the Central District Invitational in February. Phelps took part in the match play event last year winning her first round contest and helping Arkansas advance. It was the only event she competed in last season.
The Newcomers Junior transfer Natalie Beach and freshman Kelli Shean join the Lady’Backs for the 2007-08 season. Beach is originally from Fayetteville, Ark., but played two seasons at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Ga. She was a two-time medalist for the Wolves and was a two-time all-Gulf South all-conference selection. The second South African on the squad (van As), Shean should challenge for one of the traveling spots from her first day on campus. An accomplished prep golfer, Shean also has some international experience she can draw upon.