Feb. 21, 2009
Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico - The Tennessee women's golf team travels outside of the United States for the second consecutive tournament this Sunday through Tuesday at the 2009 Wildcat Invitational in Mexico.
The Lady Vols will face arguably its toughest competition of the season at the par-72, 6,146-yard Peninsula Golf Club. Nine of the 17 teams in the tournament are ranked in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin performance index top-25, including No. 1 Arizona State, No. 2 USC and No. 3 UCLA. The other ranked teams are No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 8 Duke, No. 13 Denver, No.14 Pepperdine, No. 19 California and No. 24 host-Arizona.
UT brings its best lineup of the season south of the border, though, as freshman Nathalie Mansson, sophomore Rebecca Watson, senior Nicole Smith and juniors Diana Cantú and Ginny Brown will compete in the tournament.
Smith, a 2007 All-American, will be competing in her first tournament since the 2008 NCAA East Regional after recovering from an injury.
"We are looking forward to our trip to the Arizona Wildcat event in Mexico," Lady Vol head golf coach Judi Pavon said. "We will be facing a very strong field, with nine top-25 teams, so it will be a great test for us. We had a good week of preparation and expect to play well. I'm looking forward to having Nicole Smith back in action for the first time since the Regional tournament last May. I know she is also excited to be back competing. Both Nathalie (Mansson) and Diana (Cantú) are coming off strong finishes in Puerto Rico and I expect them to continue their strong play."
Mansson and Cantú shot 73s on the final day of the Lady Puerto Rico on Feb. 10 to vault the Lady Vols from fifth-place to runner-up at the tournament - its best finish of the season.
Over three windy and rainy days, UT's final score was 312-300-297=909 (+45) in Puerto Rico.
Mansson's final-round 73 put her contention for the individual title. The Stockholm, Sweden, native finished just one stroke off the leaders with a three-day total of 77-70-73=220 (+4) to place third. Cantú rallied from opening rounds of 76 and 78 to card a 73 on the final day and finish in a season-best tie for 12th with a three-day total of 76-78-73=227 (+11).
The first round of the 2009 Wildcat Invitational tees off at 8 a.m. on Sunday. There will be no live results of the event, but www.utladyvols.com will have daily updates.