GREAT EXPECTATIONS: The University of Arkansas opened the 2005-06 golf season with high expectations and lived up to their billing with a solid fall campaign. February began the spring season with six events heading up to the NCAA Championship hosted by Ohio State May 17-20.
RECENTLY FOR ARKANSAS: Arkansas finished fifth at the 2006 Southeastern Conference Championship hosted by Vanderbilt at the Ironhorse Course at the Legends. Senior Amanda McCurdy paced Arkansas finishing tied for 18th overall with a three-day 224. Senior Lindsey Hinshaw tied for 21st recording her best SEC finish and her best finish of the 2005-06 season.
ARKANSAS IS IN THE CENTRAL: There are three regions for collegiate women’s golf. They are the West, East and Central and the Lady’Backs are in the Central Region.
WHO ELSE IS IN THE CENTRAL? The Central Region is made up of 73 Division I schools in 15 states.
LADY’BACKS GO WEST: Arkansas earned one of the top 15 seeded positions in next week’s NCAA Regional Championships. As a result, the Lady Razorbacks move from their Central Region to the West Region for competition.
WHO DO THEY FACE? Second-ranked UCLA headlines the West Regional field and enters the competition as the top seeded team in the field of 21. Number five Georgia is next followed by No. 8 Purdue, No. 10 Arkansas and No. 15 UNLV as the seeded teams. Also in the field is No. 19 Arizona, Stanford, New Mexico, host Washington, Long Beach State, Brigham Young, UC-Irvine, San Jose State, Denver, Oregon State, Washington State, New Mexico State, Georgia State, Oral Roberts, Bradley and Montana.
HAVE I SEEN YOU BEFORE? Yes, as a matter of fact. Arkansas has seen several of the teams who earned regional bids already this year. The Lady Razorbacks are an impressive 29-10-1 against teams selected to the Central Region; 19-8 against teams in the East and 11-13 against teams in the West.
WHO’S GIVEN ARKANSAS TROUBLE? Arkansas’ record against teams who advanced to the West Regional is misleading. The Lady’Backs are 1-3 against UCLA this year and the Bruins are West Region members. But Arkansas is 0-4 against Georgia, a member of the East Region who was sent West due to the seedings. Through out those two teams and the Lady’Backs are 10-5 against the rest of the field in the West Region.
THE SEC IS STRONG: The Southeastern Conference continues to be among the leaders for women’s golf and this year’s championship field was a tough one. Golfweek, one of the most commonly used collegiate polls, currently lists Auburn as the No. 4 team in the country and the highest ranked SEC team. Georgia is a close second, ranked No. 5, followed by No. 9 Tennessee, No. 10 Arkansas, No. 14 Vanderbilt, No. 16 Florida, No. 26 South Carolina, No. 30 LSU, No. 35 Alabama, No. 49 Mississippi State, No. 57 Kentucky and No. 87 Mississippi State. All rankings as of Sunday, April 30.
SEC IN THE REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Ten of the 12 SEC members qualified for an NCAA Regional trip. Seven teams (Auburn, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, LSU, Alabama and Mississippi State) are in the East, one (Florida) is in the Central and two (Georgia and Arkansas) head West.
REGIONAL FORMAT: Fifty-four holes of stroke play golf over three days of competition shall decide the team and individual champions. The tournament features 18 holes of play on each date starting at 8:30 a.m. PT. The final group tees off at 2:20 p.m.. Participants will play in threesomes during the competition.
Teams participating in the NCAA regionals shall consist of a maximum of five players (with four scores counting each day toward the team total). First and second round team pairings are determined by seeding. Following the second round of competition, team scores shall determine the pairings. Split tees (#1 and #10) will be used during each round.
The top eight teams from each of the three regionals move on to the NCAA Championship hosted by Ohio State May 23-26.
ABOUT THE TEAMS: (from gohuskies.com): The 2006 NCAA West Regional features 16 teams ranked in the top-50 in this week’s Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. That list includes: No. 2 UCLA, No. 5 Georgia, No. 8 Purdue, No. 10 Arkansas, No. 15 UNLV, No. 19 Arizona, No. 20 Stanford, No. 23 New Mexico, No. 24 Washington, No. 28 BYU, No. 29 UC Irvine, No. 31 Long Beach State, No. 41 San Jose State, No. 42 Washington State, No. 47 Oregon State and No. 50 Denver. Seven of the teams at the West Regional will be attempting to return to the NCAA Championships. Last year’s qualifiers included Arkansas, Brigham Young, Purdue, Stanford, UC Irvine, UCLA, and Washington.
THE OTHER REGIONS:
East Regional at the Bryan Park Golf Course in Bryan Park, N.C.
1. Arizona State, 2. Auburn, 3. Tennessee, 4. Wake Forest, 5. California, 6. Vanderbilt, 7. Virginia, 8. South Carolina, 9. LSU, 10. Florida State, 11. Alabama, 12. North Carolina State, 13. Augusta State, 14. Maryland, 15. Furman, 16. North Carolina, 17. Mississippi State, 18. Campbell, 19. College of Charleston, 20. East Carolina and 21. Yale.
Central Regional at The Traditions Golf Course in College Station, Texas
1. Duke, 2. Southern California, 3. Pepperdine, 4. Texas A&M, 5. Florida, 6. Oklahoma State, 7. Kent State, 8. Ohio State, 9. Michigan State, 10. SMU, 11. TCU, 12. Missouri, 13. Baylor, 14. Tulsa, 15. Nebraska, 16. Northwestern, 17. Texas, 18. Birmingham-Southern, 19. Jacksonville State, 20. Jackson State and 21. St. Francis.
THE COURSE (from gohuskies.com): Washington National Golf Club opened in August of 2000. Under a sponsorship agreement between Washington National and the University, it is the official home for the Washington men’s and women’s golf teams. For the NCAA West Regional, Washington National will play as a par-72 at 6,289 yards.
Washington National has a distinctive collegiate feel. The five sets of tees are named Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior and Husky. Golf carts are named for notable personalities in Washington’s athletic history. There is also a golf cart designed with the colors and logos of each Pac-10 institution. The flags of the 10 Pac-10 schools are flown outside of the course’s Pavilion.
SOME INTERESTING NUMBERS: Arkansas more than eclipsed its scoring goals last fall and the numbers continue to look good this spring. In the fall, Arkansas averaged a 294 in the first round, 297.25 in round two, and 291.5 in third round. The Lady’Backs averaged 882.75 for the fall.
This spring numbers are slightly higher against several courses that Arkansas is seeing for the first time. Arkansas is averaging 308.90 in the first round, 301.20 in round two and 303.20 in the third round. Arkansas’ third round average was hurt a bit by the highest round of the season – a 315 at Texas A&M.
ARKANSAS’ NUMBERS GOOD EARLY: The Lady Razorbacks have posted some impressive numbers early in the season. Arkansas’ 876 at their home Tyson/Embassy Suites Invitational was a program best and the first time the team has played under par for the tournament. The Lady’Backs single round 286 on the final day was also a program best. Arkansas carded an 882 at Las Vegas in another good showing.
WIN-LOSS: A win-loss record isn’t something we talk much about in golf but if we did, Arkansas would have an impressive 98-31-1 mark for a .758 winning percentage this year. Arkansas is a very impressive 52-6-1 (.889) against teams in the Central Region this year. Arkansas is also 21-25-1 against the top 25.
THE STARTING FIVE: Kelley Hester’s traveling five should come as no surprise to those who follow Lady’Back golf. Making the trip to the 2006 SEC Championship were seniors Amanda McCurdy, Courtney Mahon and Lindsey Hinshaw along with sophomores Stacy Lewis and Ashley Medders.
ABOUT MCCURDY: Arkansas senior Amanda McCurdy has played in every event since joining the Lady’Backs as a freshman. This year, the El Dorado, Ark., native has competed in seven tournaments and played 27 rounds with a 74.30 stroke average. She has two wins under her belt (Mercedes and Puerto Rico) and two top five finishes this year. Her low round of the year was a 213 (Mercedes)- a mark that is also a school record. McCurdy is currently ranked No. 20 in the Golfweek individual poll and is the highest ranked Lady’Back in the poll. She ranks tied for 10th in the SEC, also the best for a Lady’Back.
ABOUT MAHON: Senior Courtney Mahon has also competed in all nine events and played 27 rounds this year. The Topeka, Kan., native has a 75.85 stroke average and three top 15 finishes including a second-place showing at the Tyson/Embassy Suites Invitational.
ABOUT LEWIS: Sophomore Stacy Lewis exploded onto the Arkansas golf scene winning last year’s SEC Championship individual title. She has also played in all nine events and has 27 competitive rounds under her belt this year. Lewis has a 74.48 stroke average and four top six finishes including a second-place showing at the Tyson/Embassy Suites Invitational.
ABOUT HINSHAW: Senior Lindsey Hinshaw has made the lineup in each event this year playing 27 rounds to date. Hinshaw has a 77.59 average this year and has consistently been around the 230 mark. She recorded her best SEC finish with a tie for 21st last week.
ABOUT MEDDERS: Sophomore Ashley Medders returned to the lineup for her first Southeastern Conference Championship appearance last week. Medders has played in seven events winning the Tyson/Embassy Suites Invitational as an individual. She has a 76.81 stroke average this season.
ABOUT NUNN: Freshman Lucy Nunn is also making the trip West. Although not expected to be in the lineup, Nunn has played in four events and tied for 25th place at the 2006 Lady Puerto Rico Invitational. She competed as an individual at the Tyson/Embassy Suites Invitational and took part at the match play and Texas A&M events.
ABOUT THE POLL: Arkansas is currently ranked 10th in this week’s Golfweek Top 50. The Lady’Backs were ranked as high as second early in the year which is the highest ranking in the Golfweek poll ever for the 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 10th in that poll this week.
HESTER’S FIRST SENIOR CLASS: That’s right, head coach Kelley Hester has her first senior class at Arkansas. That class consists of Lindsey Hinshaw, Amanda McCurdy, Courtney Mahon and Sarah Trew.