FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas women’s golf team opens the 2004-05 season at the 26th Annual Branch Law Firm/ Dick McGuire Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M., Monday-Wednesday. The Lady Razorbacks enter the year ranked 31st in the Golfweek poll and face a challenging field in their first outing of the year. The Lady’Backs open with Brigham Young, Baylor, No. 2 Georgia, Hawai’i, Kansas, No. 10 New Mexico, New Mexico State, Northern Arizona, No. 5 Oklahoma State, No. 18 Pepperdine, Texas Christian, No. 12 Texas A&M, Texas Tech, San Diego State, No. 16 UNLV and Texas El Paso. “This is a strong field to open with,” said Arkansas head coach Kelley Hester. “This will be a good test to see how we stack up.” The Lady Razorbacks are celebrating their 10th season of golf in 2004-05 and Hester, in her third year, welcomes a team of 10 to the links. With competition for traveling spots at an all-time high, Hester is happy with the five who earned spots this week. Leading the charge for Arkansas is redshirt freshman Stacy Lewis who lead qualifying from wire-to-wire. Also making the trip is junior Amanda McCurdy who is ranked 62 in the Golfweek rankings this week. Junior Courtney Mahon and seniors Sarah Trew and Lindsey Hinshaw. It is the first trip for both Lewis and Hinshaw. “This is the first trip that Lindsey has qualified for,” said Hester. “It’s good to see her make her debut. It is also good to see Stacy in the mix after her redshirt season. She is showing early signs of good things to come.” In addition to the traveling five, the Lady’Backs return seniors Gena Johnson of Hot Springs, Ark., and Lina Axelsson. The Lady’Backs have also welcomed freshmen Brittany Lavy, Ashley Medders and Whitney Sylvan. “We have a lot of talent on this team,” said Hester. “Talent-wise we should be beyond where we were last year. But talent isn’t always the only determiner in whether you play. In golf, you have other components that come into play and those are the unknowns for us this year.” One of those other elements for Arkansas this year is the practice they have done at their new home, Blessings, in Johnson, Ark. The Lady’Backs are beginning their first full season at Blessings and find the course challenges them each day – something Hester hopes will help the team on the road. “Blessings is a beautiful course and it is different every time we play it,” said Hester. “It actually makes other courses seem easier.” The Lady’Backs have a busy fall with four events. Arkansas follows up the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational with a trip to Texas Tech for the Jeannine McHaney Invitational Sept. 24-26. The Lady’Backs travel to the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship Oct. 8-10, followed by the hosting the Lady Razorback Invitational at Pinnacle Country Club Oct. 17-19. For more information about Arkansas golf log on to www.ladybacks.com.