May 7, 2009
However, it's the two first-year Lady Vols that could hold the key to a top-eight finish and a national championship bid Thursday through Saturday at Mark Bostick Golf Course.
Both will be competing in their first NCAA Tournament event.
"We are going to be playing against some great teams this week in Gainesville," Spurlock said. "It's exciting. As a team, obviously we want to win."
Spurlock has become a routine top-five presence for the Lady Vols, having her score count in 74-percent of the rounds she has played.
A Memphis native, she played her freshman season at Belmont, where she averaged 80.3 over 23 rounds. This season, she is carrying a stroke average of 77.30 - fifth-best on the team, and a notable improvement.
"She's been a really pleasant surprise - having her come in and help us," Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon said. "We are lucky to have her here. I knew she would be a really strong teammate. She has really improved her game and has thrived in practices."
Mansson is having arguably the finest freshman season in Lady Vol history. She leads UT with a stroke average of 73.77 and has five top-15 finishes in her inaugural campaign. The Stockholm, Sweden, native burst onto the collegiate golf scene with an even-par 216 total to tie for 12th at the Cougar Classic in September.
"We knew Nathalie was going to come in and be a great player," Pavon said. "She's been really consistent and what has really impressed me is her maturity - being able to leave home and handle all that comes with living in a new country (on top of golf and school)."
Mansson has eight par or better rounds this season and earned Second Team All-SEC as well as All-Freshman conference honors. She said the adjustment from Sweden to the United States has gone well thanks to her participation on the UT golf team.
"It has been fun," she said. "I've learned so much. The girls on the team and practices have been great. I came in here with a positive attitude and it has been great."
Neither Mansson nor Spurlock is ready for the season to end, and Pavon and the rest of the Orange and White will need the two Lady Vol newcomers to play well to propel the team to Owings Mills, Md. for the NCAA Championships May 19-22.
"We are looking to Nathalie, even though she is a freshman, to go and play like a No. 1 player," Pavon said. "With Lauren, we are expecting three rounds in the mid-70s. We need her to turn in three solid scores that can count if we need them."