GREAT EXPECTATIONS: The University of Arkansas opened the 2005-06 golf season with high expectations and lived up to their billing with a third-place finish at the Mason Rudolph Championship in Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 23-25. The solid showing vaulted Arkansas to a program-best fifth place ranking in last week’s Golfweek top 25, and the Lady’Backs moved up to second this week without playing an event.
ARKANSAS HOSTS THE TYSON/EMBASSY SUITES INVITATIONAL: The Lady Razorbacks host their eighth annual event in the Tyson/Embassy Suites Invitational this week. It is the second time (2003) that Tyson and the Embassy Suites have teammed up to sponsor the event.
McCURDY HAS BUSY WEEK: Arkansas senior Amanda McCurdy is going to have a busy week. The El Dorado, Ark., native is competing in The Spirit International Amateur Championship near Houston, Texas, returning home in time for the Tyson/Embassy Suites Invitational this weekend.
THE STARTING FIVE: All of the Lady Razorbacks will take part in Arkansas’ home event, however, the five that will “count” toward the Lady’Backs’ team score are: Amanda McCurdy, Courtney Mahon, Lindsey Hinshaw, Sarah Trew and Stacy Lewis.
THE HIGHEST RANKING: Arkansas’ second-place ranking in the Golfweek poll is the highest ever ranking for the Lady Razorback golf program. In addition, the golf team becomes the third-highest ranked women’s team at the University behind cross country and indoor track, both of whom have been No. 1.
YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY: Head coach Kelley Hester took over the Lady Razorback golf program in 2002-03. In the final poll prior to Hester taking over, the Lady Razorbacks were ranked 82nd in the Golfweek poll. Arkansas is third in that poll this week.
MORE ABOUT TRACK: The Lady Razorback cross country team has been ranked in the top spot in the FinishLynx/NCAA poll on several occassions throughout their seasons. Arkansas finished in the No. 1 spot in 1993 and has ended their season ranked in the top five seven of the 21 years of the poll.
OTHER RANKED TEAMS: In addition to the track and cross country teams, Arkansas basketball has been inside the top 10. The Lady’Backs reached as high as seventh in the Assocaited Press poll in 1995.The Gym’Backs, beginning just their fourth season in 2006, have been as high as ninth in their poll while volleyball reached the No. 13 spot in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 in 1998.
DUKE ON TOP; SEC WELL REPRESENTED: In this case, however, the numbers don’t lie. The Blue Devils haven’tjust been the best team since the fall of 1999, they’ve been the best by a mile. Duke is ranked ahead of No. 2 Arizona by 1.21. Arizona and No. 16 Wake Forest are separated by less than 1.21. Duke’s overall record in 67 events in the six years is 930-64-4. The next closest competitor is No. 3 Auburn, which has lost to 166 teams. (Note: Of Duke’s 64 losses, it has lost to Auburn more than any other team (9). The Blue Devils have lost to Arizona eight times and Georgia six.) Keep in mind that all of these numbers were accumulated following Duke’s national championship season in 1998-99. There are several other things worth mentioning. Each of the past six NCAA champions are ranked in the top 7 – Duke (2002, 2005) is ranked first, Arizona (2000) is second, Southern California (2003) is fourth, UCLA (2004) is fifth and Georgia (2001) is seventh. Those in the top 7 without a national championship are Auburn (3) and Oklahoma State (6). There are three Pac-10 and three SEC schools in the top 10. In the top 50 there are 10 SEC schools, nine Big 12 schools, eight Pac-10 schools and six Big Ten schools. Five California schools are in the top 15.
ANOTHER POLL: The Lady Razorbacks and Stacy Lewis are also doing well in other polls. Arkansas finished the year ranked 19th in the GolfWeek poll and begin ranked 11th. Arkansas opens the year ranked 13 in the GolfWorld preseason poll with Lewis No. 9 in the country among players to watch.
NEWCOMER GETS FEET WET: Lucy Nunn was expected to have an immediate impact on the program and did just that qualifying for her first event. Hester looks for Nunn to be a significant contributor this year.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME: Arkansas gains a step at the semester break when Tanica van As joins the team in January after graduting high school in South Africa. Van As comes to Arkansas with a resume full of international experience and honors captured at several courses including her home courses of Wedgwood Golf Club and the Port Elizabeth Golf Club. Some of van As accomplishments include representing the Eastern Province ladies since 1998 at the age of 12. In addition she became the first girl to be a member of a team in a traditionally boys tournament that same year. Van As’ international experience includes the Jack Newton International Junior Classic in Australia, the Test against the Netherlands in George, South Africa, and the World Junior Golf Championships in Jamaica, Mexico and California. She also competed at the Mexican Ladies Strokeplay, the Junior British Open, the Esperito Santo World Team Championships, SAAB International and the Commonwealth Games. The youngest of two children to Hennie and Renette van As, she has one older sister, Luschka. Van As’ father is a law professor at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.