Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics (Walt Beazley)
ATHENS, Ga. (Univ. of Ark.) - The fifth-ranked University of Arkansas women's golf team wrapped up a pair of practice rounds and is ready to tee it up at the 2013 NCAA Championship at the UGA Golf Course in Athens, Ga., Tuesday.
The four-day event sees the Razorbacks tee off beginning at 11 a.m. central from the 10th hole. Arkansas is paired with Mississippi State and Vanderbilt in the first round.
The 24-team event stretches on for four days with good weather and high spirits in the forecast for Arkansas. The Razorbacks are making the program's third consecutive appearance at the NCAA Championship.
"I think we have a solid foundation in the women's golf program," said Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor. "We have student-athletes who buy into our philology, work ethic and goals and we continue to have players who are hungry and share that vision with us. I'm excited. It is a feat to get through Regionals. I felt a real calm all week (during Regionals) about how prepared we are and the work we put in all year. We are peaking at the right time."
Top-ranked Southern California leads the field and enters the week after winning the Pac-12 and NCAA West Regional titles. They have to contend with No. 2 Alabama, the SEC Champion, No. 3 Duke, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 5 Arkansas as the country's best teams all qualified this week. Eighteen of the nation's top 25 teams are taking part this week. In addition to the five teams mentioned above No. 6 Vanderbilt, No. 7 Purdue, No. 8 UCLA, No. 9 Arizona and No. 10 Florida also qualified. The rest of the top 25 includes No. 12 Arizona State, No. 13 Stanford, No. 14 Tulane, No. 15 Oklahoma State, No. 17 UC Davis, No. 18 Texas, and No. 24 Northwestern.
As for the course, it is a familiar one to Razorback skipper Estes-Taylor. She was a four-year starter for the University of Georgia and the Razorbacks have competed at the Liz Murphey each season since starting a golf program.
"Having played at Georgia for four years, I have played and then coached on the course quite a bit," Estes-Taylor said. "I feel like it is a course I know very well and that our team knows well. We know what to expect going in. Our practices have been tailored to what we will see with a lot of elevation changes and pretty quick and slopey greens. I feel like we have a great took in the Blessings to help us to prepare for this event. We have a game plan in place and I'm excited to get to a course that we are familiar with and see what we can do."
Junior two-time All-American Emily Tubert headlines the Razorback lineup this week.
"Our goal is to win a national championship," Tubert said. "Our best is good enough and our motto has been 'peak in a weak' and we are continuing to work hard to reach all of our goals."
Tubert is joined by senior Victoria Vela, junior Emma Lavy, All-SEC Second-Team and All-SEC Freshman Team member Gabriela Lopez and All-SEC Freshman team selection Reginia Plasencia this week.