2010-11 Recap: Bulldogs open with record round; Silva Zamora named Player of Year
Final Ranking: No. 14 Golfstat; No. 19 Golfweek
Marta Silva Zamora earns consensus National Player of the Year honors
Marta Silva Zamora was named National Player of the Year by the National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA), the Honda Sports Awards and Golfweek Magazine following her stellar junior season in Athens.
Silva Zamora finished atop three national statistical rankings as well – the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, the Golfstat Cup and Golfstat's head-to-head individual list.
"It's a great honor, of course," Silva Zamora said after earning the NGCA accolade just hours after finishing fourth at the NCAA Championships. "I told (head coach) Kelley (Hester) that I really don't think I'll realize what I've just won until tomorrow or two days from now. I'm proud because this award shows how I did for the entire year. I had a really, really good year. It was great."
At the NCAAs, Silva Zamora notched her sixth top-five finish in 10 tournaments completed during 2010-11. She also recorded three more top-10 efforts and tied for 14th (a stroke shy of another top-10) in the other event.
"Marta was amazingly consistent with a great stroke average," Hester said. "She had the best stroke average in the country. Like Marta said, it shows how consistent she was. She didn't have the wins that some of the other players had, but she literally didn't have a bad tournament all year. And then when it mattered most, she had a very solid tournament at the national championships and tied for fourth."
Silva Zamora now has six top-10 individual finishes in nine post-season competitions (SEC Championship, NCAA Regional and NCAA Championship) at Georgia.
Four Bulldogs have now been named National Player of the Year five times – Terri Moody (1981), Cindy Schreyer (1984), Vicki Goetze (1992 and 1993) and Silva Zamora (2011).
Bulldogs begin with best round ever
Georgia opened the season with a statement, putting together the best single-day effort in school history at the NCAA Fall Preview. The Bulldogs blistered Texas A&M's Traditions Club to the tune of 11-under.
That bettered Georgia's school record of 10-under established on the second day of the 1988 SECs.
"We played really well in qualifying and that certainly carried over," Kelley Hester said. "It's always fun when everyone is playing well. It's fun and exciting when playing well equals a low score. Good golf doesn't always equal a low score, but today it did."
Emilie Burger paced the Bulldogs with a 5-under 67, and Georgia also counted a pair of 3-under 69s from Kendall Wright and freshman Amelia Hill and an even-par 72 from Marta Silva Zamora.
The Bulldogs discarded Milena Savich's 73. Savich barely missed a fifth par-or-birdie tally when her birdie putt on the final hole lipped out.
"You don't have days like these very often so we're going to enjoy it," Hester said. "The best teams in the country don't have days like these very often. Our team chemistry is really good, and our kids are having fun."
Hill opens collegiate career with a bang
Amelia Hill's 3-under 69 in the first round of the NCAA Fall Preview represented the best collegiate debut ever by a Bulldog golfer.
Hill became just the sixth Georgia freshman since 1998 to open the season with a par-or-better score, joining Marta Silva Zamora, Carolina Andrade, Mallory Hetzel, Taylor Leon and Angela Jerman. Other prominent Bulldogs Vicki Goetze, Shauna Estes and Reilley Rankin did not shoot better than par in their UGA debuts.
Marta rewrites individual records
Marta Silva Zamora shattered the Georgia season stroke average, finishing at 71.51. That bettered current LPGA Tour member Taylor Leon's mark of 72.63 established in 2006-07.
All told, Silva Zamora recorded 22 par-or-better tallies in 33 rounds played during 2010-11. Cumulatively, she finished the year at 15-under, even including a 9-over, 36-hole performance at the Kinderlou Forest Challenge where she played with a stomach ailment before withdrawing prior to the final round.
Silva Zamora now owns first-, third- (72.85) and 10th-best (73.61) season averages in Bulldog annals.
A pair of All-America honorees
Marta Silva Zamora and Emilie Burger both earned All-America recognition. Silva Zamora was a first-team selection by the National Golf Coaches Accociation (NGCA) and Golfweek, while Burger was included on Golfweek's ledger of honorable mention choices.
Silva Zamora collected her third – and Georgia Golf's 44th – All-America certificate from the NGCA. She was an honorable mention selection as a freshman and earned first-team status as a sophomore.
Burger was a Golfweek honoree for the second consecutive year after securing third-team status in 2009-10. Burger notched five top-20s in 10 events, finished the year with a 74.17 stroke average and eight par-or-better rounds and contributed counting scores in 90.4 percent of 30 rounds played.
Liz Murphey features innovative format
One of the oldest events in the history of women's intercollegiate athletics was contested with a new twist in 2011. The 39th edition of the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic featured new playing and scoring systems.
Instead of the traditional format of golfers from three schools playing together, each team's quintet competed together as a fivesome. In addition, each team's four best scores from each hole counted, as opposed to the four low rounds at the end of the day.
"Liz was a mentor to me and a true pioneer in women's athletics," Kelley Hester said. "She always wanted what was best for all female student-athletes and was never afraid to try something new to get to that point. This format may grow to become very popular or it may be 'one and done' for us. Regardless, it's exciting to try something different, and I'm sure Liz would be thrilled that we're attempting to make women's college golf more enjoyable."
Marta Silva Zamora and Alabama claimed the individual and team titles, respectively.
"As a coach, to be able to be with all five of your players all weekend was a rare opportunity to watch how momentum shifts, mistakes are made and they turn it around," said Alabama coach Mic Potter. "I was really looking forward to it and it was every bit as good and as fun as I thought it would be."
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