May 5, 2010
By Zach Stipe, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
GREENVILLE, N.C. - The No. 13-ranked Tennessee women's golf team will have its sights set on a top-eight finish this Thursday through Saturday at the NCAA East Regional at the Ironwood Country Club.
A top-eight placement in the 24-team field will propel the sixth-seeded Lady Vols to a second consecutive NCAA Women's Golf Championship and a sixth appearance at in seven years.
The national championship is hosted by UNC-Wilmington at the Country Club of Landfall from May 18-21.
"This is a tournament that would be great to win," Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon said. "But the objective is just to advance. We've had two good weeks of practice. The team has been able to catch up on rest and school work after a busy spring. I'm confident that we'll perform well and advance. Our goal is to finish in the top three. If we stay focused on that, we'll be fine this week."
Competing in its 18th consecutive NCAA Regional Tournament, Tennessee will tee off from No. 10 at 9:06 a.m. on Thursday to begin round one in a group with No. 11 Pepperdine and No. 15 Vanderbilt. That same group will start round two from the first hole at 1:26 p.m. on Friday. Final round pairings will be determined by place.
The top-two individuals not on a qualifying team will join the top-eight teams in Wilmington.
A year ago, the Big Orange finished third at the 2009 East Regional in Gainesville, Fla. Three Lady Vols return from that team that also finished 17th at the NCAA Championships, including sophomore Nathalie Mansson, the top returning placer from last season's regional tournament.
Mansson tied for third with a 2-over 212 total at the par-70 Mark Bostick Golf Course a year ago. This season, the Stockholm, Sweden, native has seven top-10 finishes, 13 rounds of par or better and was named to the All-SEC First Team.
This is Cantú's fourth straight NCAA Regional appearance. She and Spurlock, who is making her second postseason trip, both tied for 46th in Gainesville last year.
Popson comes to Greenville fresh from a remarkable SEC Championship individual performance. Despite Tennessee's disappointing ninth-place conference finish at Tuscaloosa, Ala. in April, Popson's individual runner-up finish was a major highlight of the season.
In just her third full tournament of the spring since returning from injury, the Davenport, Fla., native set a UT 54-hole record with a 5-under 208 total and was tied for first through three rounds. She dropped the second hole in a playoff to nab runner-up honors.
Monberg has had an outstanding debut season, finishing in Tennessee's top-three in five of six spring tournaments.
The Lady Vols bring a history of regional success to North Carolina. Tennessee won the East Regional in 2006 and tied for first at the 2005 West Regional. Marci Turner also captured medalist honors at the 2006 event, while Malin Tveit snagged first at the East Regional in 1997.