This WeekArkansas returns to the links this week traveling to Tennessee for the Mercedes Benz Collegiate Classic.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. Estes elected to “exempt” three players who finished in the top 20 in the first event. Exempt from qualifying were senior Stacy Lewis, sophomore Kristin Ingram and freshman Kelli Shean. The rest of the Lady Razorbacks battled for the final two spots with Tiffany Phelps and Lucy Nunn earning the trip.Make this and go a lotThe final three dates of the fall schedule are in quick succession and it is unlikely that the Lady Razorbacks will re-qualify between each of the these invitationals. If you make the cut for the Mercedes, you probably get to go on the rest of the fall trips. Don’t forget, however, that the head coach reserves the right to make a change so stay tuned.About the Mercedes BenzThis year’s event takes place Friday-Sunday, Oct. 12-14, at Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville, Tenn. It’s a big field with 17 teams scheduled to compete.An SEC preview – sort ofTennessee also hosts this year’s SEC Championship April 18-20. However, the Lady Vols host the event at Tennessee National in Louden, Tenn.Still a lot of SEC teams in the fieldDespite that, there are still six SEC teams in the Mercedes Benz field. They are: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, LSU and host Tennessee.This year’s fieldThe rest of the field is from the Central and East Regions. Here’s a complete list of teams scheduled to compete this weekend: Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Central Florida, Denver, Florida, Furman, Kent State, LSU, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Purdue, SMU, the Swedish Junior National Team, Virginia and Tennessee.Who is the team to beat?There are several. Most of the collegiate golf rankings are based on pure numbers but there are some discrepancies in the three polls. Auburn is the highest ranked team checking in at No. 5 in the Golf World poll, No. 9 in the Golfweek poll and No. 6 in the Golfstat poll. Here’s a look at teams in the poll this week:
Arkansas at the MercedesThis is Arkansas’ fifth appearance at the Mercedes Benz Intercollegiate. The Lady’Backs’ best team finish came in 2005 when Arkansas was third overall. The Lady’Backs shot an 889 with rounds of 300-299-290 that year.Individuals at MercedesArkansas has had some good individual performances at the Mercedes as well. Former Lady’Back Amanda McCurdy won the event in 2005 as did former Lady’Back Courtney Mahon who picked up the win in 2003. Six current Lady’Backs have played this event at this course. Stacy Lewis and Ashley Medders have each played three times. Lewis’ best finish came in 2006 when she tied for fifth with a 218. She tied for seventh as a sophomore and tied for 25 as a freshman. Medders’ top finish was a tied for 52nd her sophomore season in 2005. She carded a 235. Lucy Nunn, Corinna Rees, Alex Schulte and Tanica van As have also played the event. Schulte tied for 15th overall last year with a 223.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.