FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas women’s golf team is having a big week.
Under the direction of head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor, the Razorbacks find themselves ranked 15th in Golfweek’s preseason poll, they have two players, senior Kelli Shean and freshman Emily Tubert, named among Golf Digest’s top 50 and they have one player, Shean, taking part in this week’s P&G Beauty NW Arkansas LPGA Championship at Pinnacle Country Club.
"It’s nice to be recognized in the pre-season polls, but as we all know until we hit a golf shot it’s only a prediction" Estes-Taylor said. "I do believe we have a great team that is capable of doing some really special things this year. We have depth and a work ethic that I haven’t seen in a long time. They are committed to our goals and work every day to get better."
The Razorbacks are 15th in the first collegiate poll of the season. The lofty preseason prediction is well-above last year’s No. 30 finish but the Razorbacks have watched senior Shean bloom in the summer and have added a talented freshmen class all of whom will challenge for one of the top spots.
Shean’s first round 70 in the U.S. Women’s Open earned her recognition as a player to watch this year. Shean continues to gain valuable experience this week after earning a sponsor’s exemption for the P&G NW Arkansas LPGA Championship. Shean was invited to the qualifier last year and made the cut. Shean is expected to have an afternoon tee time Friday.
Incoming freshman Tubert also made the list. The Burbank, Calif., native also caught fire this summer winning the APL title and capturing second at the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions at Blessings.
"Kelli is the perfect example of what we have done here with our women’s golf program," Estes-Taylor said. "She came here three years ago with so much talent and ability. We have just equipped her with the tools to get the most out of her ability. She has done an amazing job of making some changes that were crucial to her future success. Kelli has had some great performances over the last year and has the ability to be the best player in college golf. Kelli has a goal of playing professionally next year, so I think she will be very driven even more to play some great golf this year.
"I knew Emily was going to be a special young lady when I watched her make one golf swing," Estes-Taylor continued. "She has the ingredients to be the best player in the country. Like Kelli, we will help groom her game even more and give her more options while she is competing. She has amazing length and the sky is the limit for this young lady. I’m excited to see her get going and I know that this past summer was only a glimpse of her very brightfuture."
The duo team with a talented group of Razorbacks including senior Corinna Rees and sophomore Victoria Vela both of whom traveled extensively with the squad last year. A pair of redshirt freshmen in Emma Lavy and Rachel Carpenter are back in the lineup this year as is sophomore Meagan Roberts. Transfer Emily Podzielinski rounds out the Razorback roster.
"This team is awesome," Estes-Taylor said. "They put together a recipe for success in our first team meeting that will be vital in reaching our goals this year. They are motivated and determined to make this year one to remember. We have some great seniors in Corinna and Kelli that will give some experience throughout the year to this young group. The rest of the group is young, but like a sponge to learn each and every day. Each player is capable of winning individually and that will spark some great team finishes. I don’t want to put any expectations on this group. They know the road ahead and that each tournament is an opportunity to win. We end each workout with "Play to Win" and if we keep that as our mindset we will have a great year"
In addition to Shean, the Razorbacks will watch the play of former Arkansas standout Stacy Lewis. Lewis is a two-year member of the LPGA Tour
Arkansas opens the four-event fall schedule Sept. 24-26, at the Susie Maxwell Berning Classic in Norman, Okla. For more information about the Razorbacks, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.