2011-12 Arkansas Women’s Golf Review Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor has often said that her job as a coach is to prepare the Razorbacks throughout the season so that the team peaks in the postseason. Estes-Taylor and assistant coach Mike Adams did just that this season helping the Razorbacks defy rankings and outside expectations to reach the NCAA Championship in 2011-12.
IN THE FALL The four-event fall season was the foundation for what was to come in the spring. Arkansas’ best finish was ninth in the final event, the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational, and the team struggled to finish tournaments and meet their own expectations. Arkansas opened with a 14th-place finish at the Mason Rudolph Fall Preview, the precursor to the NCAA Championship at Vanderbilt’s Legends Course. The slow start in the first round would be the beginning of a trend for the Razorbacks all season. Sophomore Emily Tubert paced the team with a tie for 16th overall. The Razorbacks moved on to the Lady Tar Heel Invitational in Chapel Hill, N.C., in the second weekend of the fall. Arkansas played to a 15th-place finish again led by Tubert with a tie for 15th overall. Arkansas moved on to a 19th-place showing at the Mercedes-Benz-Pac 12 Challenge where Tubert tied for seventh overall, her best finish of the fall. Tubert missed the final fall event, leading Team USA to a gold medal at The Spirit International. While Tubert was in Trinity, Texas, her Razorback teammates were just up the road for the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational where they played to a fall season best ninth-place after getting out to their best start so far. Sophomore Emma Lavy stepped up to lead the team tying for 11th overall with a 222.
THE SPRING As the fall gave way to the spring, Arkansas surged out of the gates with a fourth-place finish at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic. Tubert fired a one-under 215 finishing second in what would be the first of seven top 10 finishes in the spring season. Arkansas didn’t get a chance to rally at the rain-shortened Darius Rucker Intercollegiate but continued to play well the following week at the Gator SunTrust Invitational with a tie for sixth place with three rounds under 300 for the first time this season. Tubert was fourth overall shooting 210 and the tournament signaled the arrival of freshman Hally Leadbetter who was the second-best finisher for the Razorbacks with a 224. Tubert continued to play well tying for third overall with a five-under 221 at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic leading the Razorbacks to a ninth-place showing as a team.
THE POSTSEASON The 36th-ranked Razorbacks entered the postseason with high expectations hosting the 2012 Southeastern Conference Championship at Blessings. The event is the final league championship on campus sites for a while as it moves to a neutral site for 2012-13. The excitement of hosting quickly gave was to a tough opening round that left Arkansas with a lot of ground to make up. But the Razorbacks did just that shooting a 295 in the second round moving back into contention for the league title. Arkansas battled tough conditions and nerves in the final round waiting on the 18th green as the back-and-forth battle came down to the final putt and the Razorbacks finished in the runner-up position. Tubert also rallied late finishing third overall with a 211. Lavy was tied for sixth and sophomore Emily Podzielinski improved with each round finishing tied for 17th. The Razorbacks were selected as a 12th-seed to the NCAA Central Regional Championship making the program’s 10th regional appearance. The Razorbacks were not expected to advance but Arkansas defied the odds and scratched out one of their best final round scores with a 295 putting them in the clubhouse with a 913. Arkansas then waited nearly one hour after finishing their round as their score see-sawed back and forth with Oregon for the coveted eighth-place position. When the final putt fell, Arkansas was the one standing in the final spot advancing to the program’s fifth NCAA Championship. Although Arkansas did not play to the finish they would have liked at the NCAA Championship, Estes-Taylor returns all five players with both regional and championship experience for the 2012-13 season.
BRINGING HOME HARDWARE Sophomore Emily Tubert wrapped up her second season of collegiate golf with more hardware for her trophy case. The Burbank, Calif., native earned her second Southeastern Conference First-Team honor as well as her second National Golf Coaches Association All-Region and first-team All-America awards after leading Arkansas with a 72.50 stroke average. Tubert finished the year tied for fourth in the Golfstat.com rankings, second in the Golfstat.com Cup standings and second in the Golfweek.com standings. Tubert also had the honor of representing Team USA in The Spirit International event in November. The men’s and women’s teams combined for a 10-stroke victory over Mexico and Argentina while the women’s team was third overall. Tubert also earned recognition in the classroom and was selected to the College Sports Information Directors of America Capital One Academic All-District Six At-Large Team. She had a 3.80 grade point average in broadcast journalism. She became the third Razorback to be selected to the Curtis Cup team joining Team USA in the summer of 2012. Sophomore Emily Podzielinski was selected to the SEC’s Women’s Golf Community Service Team. Podzielinski transferred to Arkansas and redshirted 2010-11. She earned a spot in the lineup in 2011-12 competing in every tournament. Podzielinski was active in many community service events including the Razorback Leadership Academy, she is a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; SEC Together We CAN canned food drive; Sweat Hawgs Program (instilling importance of physical fitness to area elementary); Book Hogs Read To Win program; Ronald McDonald House Charity Golf Tournament; First Tee Clinics; U of A Blood Drive participant; Lift Up America; Reading with the Razorbacks; NWA Heart Walk; Special Olympics volunteer; Joplin Tornado Clean up; Jones Center Ropes Course volunteer; Rockin with the Razorbacks volunteer; Run for Love and Children’s Fun Run volunteer; attended Ms. Ruby Williams 107th birthday party; Operation Santa Claus; and she has participated in several area food bank drives. Since getting into the lineup, “Pods” has posted an Arkansas career-best tie for 25th finish at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic shooting a 227 for the second time as a Razorback. Podzielinski shot 227 with rounds of 80-77-70 at the Lady Tar Heel Invitational and matched that with rounds of 75-78-72 at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic. Podzielinski rallied late shooting a 76 in the final round of the NCAA Central Regional Championship helping Arkansas advance.
STILL TO COME Tubert’s name is on the national ballot for Capital One All-America honors and several Razorbacks are competing in summer events. Check back soon for updates as the summer continues.