Sept. 25, 2008
FRANKLIN, Tenn. - The Lady Vol women's golf team returns to action to compete against some of the best collegiate squads in the nation this weekend at the Mason Rudolph Women's Championship at the Vanderbilt Legends Club South Course in Franklin, Tenn.
UT, looking to bounce back from a 15th place finish at the season-opening Cougar Classic, will face eight of the top ten teams in the latest Golf World/NGCA Golf Coaches' Poll at the 54-hole tournament.
The Lady Vols will tee off at 8:50 a.m. Friday morning from the tenth tee on the 6,217-yard, par-72 course. Teams will tee off from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday and 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.
"The field at the Mason Rudolph is very strong," Lady Vol head women's golf coach Judi Pavon said. "It will be a preview of what the NCAA Championships will look like and it will be a good opportunity for this young team to see what it takes to be a top team. We had a good week of practice following the Cougar Classic and the team is prepared to play. We will use the feedback from this event to keep working to improve."
Freshman Nathalie Mansson was outstanding in her college debut from Sept. 14-16 in Hanahan, S.C., as she carded 74-70-72=216 to lead the Big Orange and tie for 12th at the Cougar Classic. She will again be counted on to lead the Orange and White this weekend.
"Nathalie has had a great week of practice and will be ready for the tournament this weekend," Pavon said. "Facing the best players in the country will be a good experience for her to see where she stands nationally at this early point in the season."
The Lady Vols, who dropped from No. 25 in the Golf World/NGCA Coaches' Poll but still received nine votes, are still without injured senior Nicole Smith, a 2007 NGCA Honorable Mention All-American. However, junior veterans Diana Cantú and Ginny Brown and sophomore transfer Lauren Spurlock all showed flashes of excellent play at the Cougar Classic.
"We will miss Nicole again this week," Pavon said. "But our players have the ability to step up and turn in some strong performances."
Cantú was UT's second-best player at the season-opener, tying for 47th with a 76-74-77=227. Spurlock (78-76-80=234) tied for 76th, while Brown finished tied for 91st (80-75-82=237). Redshirt freshman Emily Sills, who played as an individual at the season-opener, will make her debut in the top-five. Sophomore Rebecca Watson will play as an individual.
Third-ranked UCLA captured last season's tournament, establishing a new 54-hole scoring record (a 13-under par 851) along the way. The Bruins finished 14 strokes ahead of second place Arizona State.
Duke senior Amanda Blumenherst will return to defend her 2007 individual title. Blumenherst shot a tournament record 13-under par, 203 (66-68-69) last year. She will be looking for her third Mason Rudolph title, as she earned the crown in 2005 as a freshman. Blumenherst also won the 2008 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship last month.
The extremely talented field includes No. 7 Alabama, No. 17 Arizona , No. 2 Arizona State, No. 18 Arkansas, No. 8 Auburn, Chattanooga, No. 5 Duke, No. 15 Florida, No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 12 Purdue, No. 19 Stanford, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, UCF, No. 3 UCLA , USC (1) and No. 10 Wake Forest .