FAYETTEVILLE – It’s going to be a busy week for University of Arkansas senior women’s golfer Kelli Shean.
The Cape Town, South Africa, native is in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as one of three representatives for her country at the World Amateur Team Championship at Olivos Golf Club.
Shean has four practice rounds and begins team play Wednesday at the four-day event. She returns stateside in time to join the Razorbacks at the third of four fall events in Las Vegas, Nev., Monday-Wednesday.
"This is a tremendous honor for Kelli to be selected to the World Amateur Team for South Africa," said Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor. "Only three people per country are chosen to represent the over 50 countries that will be participating this week in Argentina. It is the best of the best from around the world. This is a testament to Kelli’s great play over the past two years. She has worked hard and this has been one of her goals for quite some time. She is very proud to be from South Africa and this is one of the greatest stages in golf to have that opportunity to represent your country."
Fifty-four teams are scheduled to compete including the United States.
After a brief visit to her native South Africa, Kelli Shean returned to the states winning the U.S. Amateur qualifier in Frisco, Texas, with a single-round 72 in the summer of 2009. The win earned Shean entry to the U.S. Women’s Amateur where she advanced to match play.
Shean has flown under the radar for much of her amateur career – until the 2010 summer that is. She qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont and stunned the field in the first round. She played her first round counting a one-under 70 and held the Open lead when she came off the course. She finished the day tied for second overall and emerged as the media darling on the first day. Although her scores wouldn’t remain that low (70-79-83-80), she cited the experience as one of the best of her young life. She finished tied for 65th overall and was one of two players (Stacy Lewis) with Razorback ties to make the cut.
Shean has continued to play well early in her senior season. She battled back-and-forth in the team’s first event in Oklahoma finally earning runner-up honors with a three-under 213, tying her third-best round as a college player.
She followed up with another 213 at the Mercedes Benz Collegiate last week playing to a sixth-place finish.
"This opportunity really indicates to Mike (Adams, assistant coach) and I that we are continuing to help our players grow their games," Estes-Taylor said. "They are buying into our system and believe that we are working every day to create champions. This is great exposure for our team and University and will only share an even greater window into our women’s golf team. We wantour players to be equipped in all areas and gaining experiences like this will only benefit the group as a whole and for Kelli in her efforts to play golf at the highest level.
As a junior, Shean emerged as a leader on and off the course in 2009-10. She was Arkansas’ low finisher in nine of 11 tournaments and led the team with a career-low 73.27 stroke average. Shean’s season opened with a solid 221 at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational and bettered that with her first collegiate win the following week at the Marilyn Smith Sunflower Invitational. Shean carded a career-low 209 with rounds of 74-667 for a seven-under score. It was the first of six top 10, five top five, finishes for Shean.
Shean earned her first Southeastern Conference honor with selection to the SEC First-Team after a career-best fourth-place showing at the league championship last season. She posted a three-round 210 with a 69-71-70 on her scorecard. Shean also had third-place finishes at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown and the Central District Invitational and was fifth at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic. For Shean’s efforts, she earned National Golf Coaches Association All-America honors.