Three proven seniors and two freshmen will tee off today for the University of Arkansas in defense of the school's first SEC women's golf championship.
The No. 6 Razorbacks will go off the No. 1 tee with No. 10 South Carolina and No. 5 Vanderbilt at 9:40 a.m. on the Legacy course at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Hoover, Ala.
SEC Women’s Golf Championships
Where Greystone Golf and Country Club, Hoover, Ala.
Course Legacy Course (Par 72, 6,274 yards)
When Today through Sunday
TV Championship match Sunday at 7:30 a.m. Central (SEC Network)
Format Three rounds of stroke play, top eight teams seeded for three rounds of match play
Playing partners Arkansas, South Carolina and Vanderbilt
Live scoring SECSports.com and Golfstat.com
Projected Arkansas lineup in order (stroke average) Ximena Gonzalez (74.56), Brooke Matthews (72.91), Dylan Kim (72.48), Kaylee Benton (72.29), Maria Fassi (71.65)
Noteworthy SEC teams in the top 25 are No. 5 Vanderbilt, No. 6 Arkansas, No. 9 Florida. No. 10 South Carolina, No. 14 Auburn and No. 22 Alabama, the defending NCAA runners-up. … The Razorbacks have not won a tournament this season after winning seven in 2017-18, including the SECs and the NCAA Austin Regional. … Dylan Kim owns the Razorbacks’ low round with a 67 at the Annika Intercollegiate on Sept. 17. … Kim has also shot three rounds of 68, while Maria Fassi has shot two and Cara Gorlei, who is not on the five-man roster for the SECs, has shot one. … Arkansas’ low team round was a 278 (10 under) at the Cougar Classic on Sept. 10 in Charleston, S.C.
Arkansas took the title at Greystone last season -- the first played with a match-play format for the final three rounds -- with a 3-2 victory over South Carolina as Kaylee Benton, Maria Fassi and Dylan Kim all won their matches. The same trio is back, along with freshmen Ximena Gonzalez and Brooke Matthews, for Coach Shauna Taylor, who has tinkered with the bottom of the lineup all season.
"They've just been really consistent," Taylor said of the freshmen. "I just feel like they give us our best shot. Yeah, it was very difficult to settle on a lineup but I feel very comfortable with three seniors and two freshmen."
Arkansas went 1-2 in match play at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in Athens, Ga., last week while competing without Fassi and Benton, who were resting after playing in the first Augusta National Women's Amateur in Augusta, Ga. Fassi finished second in the event and then was a guest on Today and on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Benton and Kim did not make the cut but did play a practice round at Augusta National.
Taylor said the Razorbacks know their SEC opponents will be gunning for them after Arkansas triumphed last year.
"I'm just trying to keep it like we're on a mission," Taylor said. "We have to execute, put a plan together and be detailed and take care of what we can control. Obviously winning it makes us recognize we have a target on our back, but at the end of the day we still have to go out and hit the golf shots and do what Arkansas golf does."
Fassi lost a two-hole playoff to South Carolina's Ainhoa Olarra for medalist honors at the SECs last season when she flirted with the first sub-70 stroke average in school history. She and Benton, whose grandfather Jim was an Arkansas football player and an NFL All-Pro, won all three of their matches at the SECs last year. Kim went 2-1 in match at the SECs.
Matthews, of Rogers, is the reigning SEC women's golfer of the week after she earned co-medalist honors at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic. After firing a 68 in the lone round of stroke play, Matthews won match-play rounds against golfers from Louisville, Augusta and Georgia.
The 14 SEC teams will compete in three rounds of stroke play to determine the top eight seeds for match play, which will consist of three matches in two days on Saturday and Sunday. Last year, the Razorbacks were the No. 3 seed and knocked off defending champion Florida, No. 1 Alabama and top-seed South Carolina in successive matches to win the title.
Taylor does not sound concerned that the Razorbacks have yet to hoist a team trophy this season after winning seven times last year.
"We've had all nine players on our team be in the lineup," Taylor said. "I feel really great about what we've done as far as everybody's had a lot of experience.
"I feel like this group of five is playing the best golf of the bunch right now. ... We haven't put it all together so far this year but I think we'll have a great opportunity to do that this week."
Sports on 04/17/2019
Print Headline: Arkansas women going for SEC repeat in Alabama