Nov. 1, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Lady Vol golf team caps the fall portion of its season with a trip to Kissimmee, Fla., to compete at the National Golf Coaches Association-hosted Hooters Collegiate Match Play Championships from Sunday through Tuesday at the Ginn Reunion Resort.
The Match Play Championships will be one of the most competitive tournaments in the country this season as 13 of the 16 participants are ranked in the latest Golf World/NGCA Coaches' Top-25 Poll. At the end of each fall season, the top 16 teams in the country receive invitations to the exclusive tournament. No. 1-ranked UCLA, No. 2 USC, No. 4 Georgia, No. 6 Alabama and defending champion Duke (No. 7) are some of the teams at this season's Championships.
"We've had a long break since the Mercedes-Benz Tournament, but we've had some great practices in that time," Lady Vol head golf coach Judi Pavon said. "I'm hoping we can bring the same intensity and attitude that we had at the Mercedes-Benz Championships to Florida." Despite missing two of its top players, the Lady Vols carded their best three-day total of the season by over 20 strokes and finished eighth at the 2008 Mercedes-Benz Women's Collegiate Championships. The Lady Vols rode a blistering 5-under first round to a 54-hole total of 890 (+26) at Fox Den Country Club in Knoxville from Oct. 10-12. Sophomore Rebecca Watson and junior Ginny Brown recorded career-best rounds, tournament totals and finishes. Watson, who was named Lady Vol Athlete of the Week on Oct. 13, tied for 15th with a three-day total of 219 (+3). She carded an even-par 72 on the first day. Brown tied for 19th with a score of 220 (+4). She and sophomore Lauren Spurlock each fired 3-under 69s on the first day.
Before the Mercedes-Benz Championships, UT had finished 15th at the Cougar Classic and 16th at the Mason Rudolph.
"We are going to try to build on the momentum from our performance at the Mercedes Championships," Pavon said. "Having Diana (Cantú) back will help, too."
Cantú, a junior, missed the Mercedes-Benz tournament because she was competing for Mexico at the World Amateur Team Championships in Australia.
On Sunday, beginning at 7:30 a.m, the Lady Vols will play 36 holes to determine match play seeding. The top eight teams and the lower eight teams will play in two separate match play brackets. Each team will play twice on Monday and once on Tuesday.
"We need to play well in stroke play on the first day to get in the top eight for match play on Monday and Tuesday," Pavon said. "I think our three international players will be comfortable with the match play format. Playing somebody one-on-one is a unique opportunity." Watson (Scotland), Cantú (Mexico) and freshman Nathalie Mansson (Sweden) all have extensive match play experience from competing with their national teams. Americans Brown and Spurlock will also be competing.
Last season the Lady Vols placed fourth at the Hooter Match Play, losing to Florida and eventual champion Duke, but defeating Michigan State and Texas A&M.