West Regional and SEC Champion Erica Popson
May 9, 2011
By Zach Stipe, Media Relations Assistant
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee Lady Vol sophomore golfer Erica Popson nabbed Golfweek Player of the Week and Lady Vol Athlete of the Week honors on Monday after capturing medalist honors at the NCAA West Regional by five strokes from Thursday through Saturday at Washington National Golf Club in Auburn, Wash.
The Davenport, Fla., native has placed first in four consecutive tournaments and with a season stroke average of 72.07 is on pace to shatter the Lady Vol record by nearly one shot (73.06).
At the West Regional, Popson led from wire-to-wire, opening with a 4-under 68 on Thursday before wrapping up the competition with rounds of 3-under 69 and 1-under 71 in cold and rainy conditions on Friday and Saturday. Her final total of 8-under 208 tied for the second-lowest mark in Lady Vol history. She now owns the three lowest scores in the UT record book.
Her nearest challenger in Washington was USC's Lizette Salas, Golfstat's No. 2-ranked player in the country, who finished with a 3-under 213 score. Popson and Salas were paired together for the final round, but the Trojan never got closer than three shots. Popson is the third Lady Vol to win an NCAA Regional, joining Malin Tveit (1997) and Marci Turner (2006).
She led the 11th-ranked Lady Vols to a second-place performance and a third-consecutive NCAA Championships berth.
Popson will head to the national tournament from May 18-21 in Bryan, Texas, as a favorite to contend for the individual title.
Popson's hot streak began at the Bryan National Collegiate from March 25-27 in Browns Summitt, N.C. There, she came back from four strokes down on the last day to win the Wake Forest and UNCG-hosted tournament by one shot (4-over 220).
A week later, she tied for first with junior teammate Nathalie Mansson at the Rebel Intercollegiate from April 1-3 in Oxford, Miss. Both Lady Vols fired three-day totals of 3-under 213 with Mansson winning a playoff as Tennessee captured the team title by 30 strokes.
Popson carried her success to the SEC Championship in Auburn, Ala., from April 15-17, winning conference medalist honors by one stroke with a 6-under 210. She set the tone early at the Auburn Golf Club with an SEC first-round record and personal-low 6-under 66 and never lost the lead.
She has a 367-0-1 head-to-head mark during that four-tournament streak and a 70.11 average over the last three events.
The All-SEC First Team member also won the 2010 Mercedes-Benz Women's Collegiate Championships in October with a UT-record 9-uner 207 score.
This is her first Golfweek Player of the Week award and fourth LVAW honor this season.