Women's Golf to Test New Scoring Format at Georgia
March 31, 2011
By Wes Todd
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina will face a strong field, a difficult golf course and a new competition format this weekend as the Gamecocks travel to the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic. The tournament runs Friday-Sunday at the par 72, 6,335-yard UGA Golf Course in Athens, Ga.
The 23 teams entered in this week's Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic will be experiencing a completely new scoring format from the usual college golf system. Instead of pairing three or four teams together and having one individual from each team play in a threesome or foursome, this week each team will have all five competitors play together in one group. In addition, one high score from each hole will be dropped in order to obtain the team score, as opposed to one high round from each team. Each player will still play out her ball on each hole, however, as the players will still compete for individual medalist honors.
South Carolina will have its entire six-player roster competing in the same event for the third time this season; all six also played in the season-opening Cougar Classic, where the Gamecocks finished in fourth place. Leading the way is junior Katie Burnett (Brunswick, Ga.), who has played in every event through her two-plus years in the Garnet and Black. Sophomore Amanda Strang (Jonstorp, Sweden) also continues her streak of never missing an event as she plays in her 20th consecutive tournament.
Freshmen Katie Rose Higgins (Charleston, S.C.), Samantha Swinehart (Lancaster, Ohio) and Suzie Lee (East Northport, N.Y.) round out the starting five for Carolina. Swinehart was the Gamecocks' top finisher at last week's Bryan National Collegiate, tying for 12th place, while Lee also played well to tie for 28th. Sophomore Meredith Swanson (Roanoke, Va.) will compete in her fifth event of the year, playing as an individual.
There are few fields in college golf stronger than that of the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic. Five of the nation's top 10 teams will be in attendance, along with eight of the 12 Southeastern Conference schools. No. 3 Alabama leads the way, followed by defending national champion Purdue, ranked No. 4. No. 5 LSU, No. 7 Duke and No. 8 Virginia round out the top 10, with Wake Forest (12), Arkansas (15), North Carolina (17), host Georgia (18), Oklahoma (20), Auburn (21), Florida (23) and Notre Dame (25) giving the field 14 top-25 squads. Chattanooga, Florida State, Kent State, Ohio State and South Carolina are all ranked in the top 50, and Furman, Georgia State, Kennesaw State and Kentucky complete the field.
Last year at this event, South Carolina was one of only six teams in the field to break 300 on Sunday, climbing up the leaderboard to a tie for 11th place against a very strong field. Katie Burnett earned her fifth top-20 of the season after closing with a 72, finishing tied for 20th at 229 (+13). Benedicte Toumpsin posted a 231 (+15) to tie for 28th. Taylor Barrett had the team's first eagle of the season as she shot a final-round 76.
Some of the biggest moments in South Carolina women's golf history have happened at the UGA Golf Course. In 2002, South Carolina captured the program's first and only SEC Championship with a school-record three-day total of 861, paced by Kristy McPherson's 209 (-7), which won her medalist honors for the second straight season.
Six years later, Benedicte Toumpsin was the medalist at the NCAA East Regional, shooting rounds of 68-70-76=214 to win her first collegiate title and propel the Gamecocks into their first NCAA Championship in five years with a sixth-place team finish. The Gamecocks also played in the 1993 NCAA Championship at the UGA Golf Course, finishing 12th - the second-best championship finish in school history.
Carolina will begin play Friday morning with a 9:30 a.m. shotgun start. The Gamecocks will begin play on hole No. 17, and Swanson will join the other four individuals on Hole No. 1. Live scoring is available through golfstat.com, and fans can receive periodic updates by following @GamecockWGolf on Twitter.