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Women’s golf team opens spring at Kiawah

Looking to improve their #75 national ranking

February 25, 2012 · Athletic Communications
Hoping to carry over their momentum from the fall schedule, the Middle Tennessee women’s golf team will head to Charleston, SC to open their 2012 spring campaign in the prestigious Kiawah Island Intercollegiate on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

This will be the fourth time that the Blue Raiders have played at Kiawah, but it will be the first time that they have competed with a win under their belts in their last outing.

A field of 33 teams will participate in the tournament, one of the largest fields in which the Blue Raiders will play all year. Nationally-ranked College of Charleston will serve as the host team. The Blue Raiders are among the five highest-ranked teams in the tournament, holding down the 75th slot. Eight of the participating teams are ranked in the nation’s top 100 teams, with nine more being ranked in the next 50.

Head Coach Chris Adams called it “a good start for us.”

“To have that many good teams in the field, we have a lot to prove. This is what we are playing for. We are trying to secure a spot in the NCAA Regionals.”

Because of the size of the field, the tournament will be held on two separate golf courses, Oak Point (Par 72, 5,902 yards) and Cougar Point (6,001 yards). On Sunday, half the teams will play one course, and the other half will play the second course. On Monday, the teams will switch. For Tuesday’s championship round, the top 19 teams will play Cougar Point to determine the winner, while the remainder of the field will play Oak Point.

Adams praised the condition of the Kiawah courses.

“The courses are absolutely plush and perfect. These are rye, over-seeded fairways. They look so good that they almost look fake. Coming down here, you are going to get such perfect conditions, and you just hope that even though we have been practicing in not-so-perfect conditions, with rain and bare lies, you have a tendency to rise to the occasion because the golf courses are so perfect.” Adams hopes that the momentum that is still with the team from winning their own tournament in the fall will carry over to Kiawah.

Even though it’s been a while (October) since we won our home tournament, obviously the good taste is still in our mouth, even though we didn’t have the perfect fall that we would have liked. We had a couple of poor tournaments, but anytime you can get a win on your home course, it does have a positive effect over the off-season.

“They know that we can play well, that we can compete, and it does give you a sense of accomplishment and some good momentum coming into the spring.”

Adams lists Kiawah at the top of her list of favorite courses, noting that her teams have almost always played well there.

“We have had someone finish in the top 15 every time we have played there.” Adams pointed out. “Our team has changed to the point that I feel like any of our five players could get in the Top 20 individually here at Kiawah. I hope that trend will continue, because that means we will be playing pretty good as a team as well.”

Adams pointed out that the team had worked hard over the winter, and that some of the players had made greater strides than others. The increased competition has presented Adams with some tough choices in selecting who goes.

Six players will be competing at Kiawah. Five of them will be representing the Blue Raiders as a team, with the sixth player competing as an individual.

Joining Akin will be senior Steph Gough, juniors Ashley Haggard and Olivia Love, sophomore Natalie Chrisopulos and freshman Allie Knight. Akin, Haggard, Love and Knight posted the four best stroke averages on the team in fall competition, led by Haggard’s 76.43 average/round.

Adams will go with Gough, Haggard, Love and Knight, and make a last-minute selection between Akin and Chrisopulos, based in part on the results of Saturday’s practice round. One of the two will complete the five-person team, with the other playing as an individual.

There will be live scoring on Golfstat.com each day, as well as daily recaps on GoBlueRaiders.com

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.