Athens, GA - The No. 6-ranked Georgia women's golf team will return to
action this Friday-Sunday in the 35th Annual Tar Heel Invitational at UNC's Finley Golf Course. The Bulldogs are one of 13 top-25 squads included in the 18-team field.
"The Finley Golf Course is a very traditional design," head coach Kelley
Hester said. "The last time we played in this event was 2007-08 so none of our current players have played this course. I think it's one they'll enjoy playing."
The tournament includes eight of the top-12 teams in the latest Golf
World/NGCA coaches' poll No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Duke, No. 4 LSU, the
Bulldogs, No. 7 Vanderbilt, No. 10 Virginia, No. 11 North Carolina and No. 12 Auburn as well as No. 14 Tulane, No. 15 Wake Forest, No. 16 Michigan State, No. 20 South Carolina, No. 23 Florida, Denver, Florida State, Louisville, N.C. State and Texas A&M.
"It's a great field, largely from the East Coast but a good field
nonetheless," Hester said. "Alabama and LSU are two teams we haven't been able to get past this year so maybe we'll be able to do that if we play the way we're capable of playing."
The youthful Bulldogs, who don't have a senior on the roster, opened the
season ranked No. 13 in the nation but vaulted into the top 10 after
finishing fifth at the NCAA Fall Preview and seventh at the Mason Rudolph Championship, where Georgia shot 2-under as a team.
"Obviously I'm pleased that we've climbed in the rankings," Hester said. "I think it matters to our kids. I'm glad they see they've played well enough to be ranked that high. When you have so much youth, lack of confidence can be an issue. I haven't seen that in them, but it has to be a boost to see us climb. For now, it should help them see that their hard work has paid off and we're now one of the best teams in the country. What matters most is how you finish at the national championship, though."
This weekend's playing five was finalized after two rounds of qualifying
last weekend and features Marta Silva Zamora, Amelia Hill, Milena Savich, Emilie Burger and Kendall Wright.
"One of the goals the girls made was to make 40 birdies a tournament,"
Hester said. "We've made a lot of birdies (87) so far, which is something
you obviously have to do if you want to go low. If you're not able to take
advantage of birdie chances, you're not going to be able to compete even if you don't make mistakes. Making birdies allows you to make a few mistakes. Birdies take some of the pressure off of you."
Georgia competed in the Tar Heel Invitational eight times between 1978-88 but has traveled to the event on just three occasions since. The Bulldogs won the team title in 1980, 1981 and 1984, while Mitzi Edge and Cindy Pleger claimed medalist honors in 1980 and 1981, respectively.