Georgia Set To Compete In NCAA East Regional

May 6, 2014

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Georgia Women's Golf Notes
NCAA East Regional
May 8-10, 2014
SouthWood Golf Club (par-72, 6257 yards)
Tallahassee, Fla.

Georgia Set To Compete In NCAA East Regional
The Georgia women's golf team will open play in the NCAA East Regional on Thursday afternoon. The Bulldogs will be among 24 teams competing on the par-72; 6257-yard SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Fla. The top-eight teams in the 54-hole event will advance to the NCAA Championships on May 20-23 in Tulsa, Okla.

Georgia, the No. 16 seed, will be paired with Campbell and East Carolina for the first and second rounds on Thursday and Friday, respectively. The Bulldogs, Camels and Pirates will tee off from No. 10 beginning at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday and from No. 1 starting at 7:45 a.m. on Friday. Saturday's tee times will be determined by the team standings through 36 holes.

No. 3 Duke is the top seed in the Regional, one of nine top-25 teams competing in Tallahassee. Rounding out the field will be No. 5 South Carolina, No. 9 Stanford, No. 12 Vanderbilt, No. 14 Pepperdine, No. 17 UCF, No. 20 Virginia, No. 24 Auburn, N.C. State, Florida State, Kentucky, Tulane, Louisville, Baylor, East Tennessee State, the Bulldogs, Campbell, East Carolina, Texas State, College of Charleston, Troy, Murray State, Seton Hall and Alabama State.

"It's a great field, but it's the type of field that we've seen all year," head coach Josh Brewer said. "We've seen teams like Duke and South Carolina and Vanderbit two, three or four times already. To us, it's just going to be another tournament. That's why we play a tough schedule throughout the year."

The Bulldogs are coming off an eighth-place finish at the SEC Championships two weeks ago. While the showing wasn't what Brewer's Bulldogs were looking for place wise, the result was somewhat solid considering the league featured nine teams included in the top-25 of the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index entering the weekend.

"We practiced well for the three weeks leading up to SECs, and I think put together our best tournament together of the year there," Brewer said when the Regional field was announced. "Yes, the team finish was eighth, but the field there was stronger than the Regional field we'll see in Tallahassee. We just need to continue to work hard over the next week. If we can play like we played at SECs and make a few more putts, we'll be really happy in about 10-12 more days."

Georgia will feature the same playing five as it did at the SECs but in a slightly different order. Brewer utilized the individual finishes at the conference championships to set the 1-5 lineup for  Tallahassee.

Sammi Lee will occupy the No. 1 spot, followed by Amira Alexander , Manuela Carbajo Ré, Rocio Sanchez Lobato and Harang Lee.

Sammi Lee, a freshman from Winter Park, Fla., came within a stroke of a top-20 finish at SEC Championships, tying for 24th.

Alexander has played the best golf of her collegiate career of late, tying for second at the John Kirk Panther Intercollegiate and standing eighth through 36 holes at the SECs.

Carbajo Ré has been Georgia's most consistent golfer and leads the team in stroke average (74.00), top-20s (five) and top-10s (two).

Sanchez Lobato was co-medalist of the FSU Match-Up Tournament on the ssme SouthWood layout 15 months ago. She opened the tourney with a course- and tournament-record 66 and eventually led Georgia to the team title as well.

Harang Lee paces the Bulldogs in birdies (65) and sports a stellar amateur résumé´which includes representing Europe in the 2012 Junior Ryder and 2013 Junior Solheim Cups.

Brewer likes the Bulldogs' Thursday-Friday tee times of an afternoon pairing followed by an early-morning start.

"I think it's great," Brewer said. "You go play and get into the tournament on Thursday afternoon, go have dinner and then play again the next morning. You have pure rhythm, especially if you play well. You carry all that momentum over. You play, have an afternoon practice, maybe go to a movie and get ready for what is probably going to turn out to be your most important round of the year on Saturday."


The Bulldogs' History In National Championships
The University of Georgia has been one of the nation's premier women's college golf programs for more than three decades.

The Bulldogs have posted 25 top-20 and 20 top-10 finishes at AIAW and NCAA Championships since 1979, including winning the 2001 NCAA title.

In addition to the team success, three Bulldogs have claimed individual national titles.

Terri Moody earned medalist honors at the 1981 AIAW Championships at the UGA Golf Course, while Cindy Schreyer and Vicki Goetze took home individual crowns at the 1984 and 1992 NCAA Championships, respectively.

Since the NCAA went to a Regional format in 1993, Georgia also has claimed three East team titles (1993, 1998 and 1999) and one individual crown (Reilley Rankin in 1998).


Carbajo Ré Strong At LMCC
Sophomore Manuela Carbajo Ré put together a much more impressive performance than most realize during the 42nd annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic.

As a prelude to the NCAA Championships' shift to a combined stroke play/match play format in 2015, the Liz Murphey was altered this spring to include one round of stroke play qualifying used to determine to eight-team brackets for three rounds of match play.

Carbajo Ré shot 1-under 71 in stroke play qualifying to finish tied for sixth in the "official" individual results for the tourney.

The 2011 South American Amateur champion was then 2-0 in match play, securing decisive 5-and-4 and 7-and-5 victories in the first and third rounds of competition. She also led her second-round match-up 3-up with three holes remaining when Georgia clinched a team victory and play was suspended.

All told, Carbajo Ré was 7-under over the approximate 60 holes of golf she played during the four rounds of the LMCC.
    

SouthWood Success For UGA
Georgia had a successful first stab at the SouthWood Golf Club layout last spring.

Led by co-medalist Rocio Sanchez Lobato, the Bulldogs swept the team and individual titles at the inaugural FSU Match-Up Tournament on Feb. 15-17, 2013.

Sanchez Lobato opened with a 6-under 66 and led wire-to-wire to finish at 2-under 214 and tied with Tennessee's Erica Popson atop the individual leaderboard. In the first round, Sanchez Lobato birdied No. 3, No. 5, No. 6 and No. 9 to turn at 4-under. Additional birdies at No. 11, No. 12, No. 14 and No. 16 pushed her to 8-under before the double-bogey 5 at the par-3 No. 17.

Sanchez Lobato's 66 is both the course and tournament record at SouthWood and came within a shot of the Georgia all-time low of 65 established by Vicki Goetze in the final round of the 1992 NCAA Championships when she passed Annika Sorenstam to win UGA's third individual national title.

Sanchez Lobato was obviously excited to see Georgia's assignment to the East Regional when it was announced by the NCAA.

"It's a really good golf course for everyone," Sanchez Lobato said. "We all played well, obviously, because we won as a team that weekend. For me, personally, it fits right with my game. I'm really excited to go back and try to do as well again."    

Sophomores Manuela Carbajo Ré and Amira Alexander also were in the lineup at last year's FSU Match-Up. Carbajo Ré tied for sixth at 1-over 217. In her collegiate debut, Alexander contributed counting scores in the first and second rounds.

"We're going to a golf course we already know," Brewer said. "Three players - 60 percent of our lineup - are going back there. It's a golf course we have a lot of confidence on. Hopefully, we can find that same magic that happened last February."

Team-wise, the Bulldogs shot 290 in the first round to grab a one-shot lead over Tennessee. A second round of 300 dropped Georgia to a tie for third before a closing 1-under 287 supplied a four-shot victory over No. 6 Oklahoma.


SEC=Stiff Competition
The Southeastern Conference again leads the nation in participating teams in this year's NCAA Women's Golf Championships.

The SEC has supplied the most entrants in the team field for at least the past seven years (including tying with what was then the PAC-10 Conference with nine schools in 2008).

All told, 12 of 14 SEC teams earned Regional bids this spring, followed by the ACC and PAC-12 both with nine bids, the Big 12 all six and the Big Ten with five. In addition, Ole Miss has an individual entrant in the field.

Georgia is one of five league schools in the East Regional with No. 2 seed South Carolina, No. 4 seed Vanderbilt, No. 8 seed Auburn and No. 11 seed Kentucky.

Arkansas and Alabama are the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively, at the Central Regional in Stillwater, Okla. The field there also includes No. 5 seed LSU, No. 7 seed Florida and No. 11 seed Mississippi State.

Texas A&M and Tennessee are the No. 12 and No. 19 seeds, respectively, at the West Regional in Cle Elum, Wash.

The 12-team representation is one shy of the SEC all-sports record of 13 teams reaching NCAA Championship competition. Last year, 13 women's and men's SEC golf teams that made the fields for the 2013 NCAAs.

Twelve SEC men's golf teams also are competing in the 2013 NCAAs. Last year, the first season the SEC included 14 member schools, 12 of 13 men's tennis programs (Missouri does not sponsor that sport) played in the NCAAs. In 2001, 2002 and 2004, all 12 SEC schools earned spots in the 64-team men's tennis bracket.  

The most SEC women's golf teams to advance from Regional play to the NCAA Championships is seven, a tally set five times - 2006 (Columbus, Ohio), 2008 (Albuquerque, N.M.), 2011 (College Station, Texas), 2012 (Franklin, Tenn.) and 2013 (Athens, Ga.).


We Call It The "Ro"stseason
Rocio Sanchez Lobato has played some of her best collegiate golf during postseason play at the SEC Championships, the NCAA Regionals and the NCAA Championships.

In six postseason tournaments, Sanchez Lobato has recorded two top-10 and an additional top-20 showing.

As a freshman in 2012, Sanchez Lobato finished eighth at the SECs and then secured an individual spot in the NCAA Championships field by tying for 10th at the Central Regional.

Last spring, Sanchez Lobato tied for 11th at the SECs on the same Greystone layout.

In addition to the aforementioned, Sanchez Lobato has a list of impressive results from other big-name events. The Marbella, Spain native was runner-up at the 2012 British Am, the same summer she tied for 11th individually and helped Spain to the team title at the World University Games and then tied for 12th individually at the European Ladies Am, her third straight top-20 in that event.


Alexander Earns UGA's Top Individual Finish Of 2013-14
Amira Alexander's runner-up showing at the John Kirk Panther Intercollegiate was the Bulldogs' top individual finish this season.

Alexander was the first-round leader and eventually birdied two of her last three holes of the final round en route to a 2-under 70 - her second career-low loop in three days. That left Alexander at 2-under 214 and in a three-way tie with Maria Palacios of Georgia State and Kaylin Yost of Campbell for medalist honors. Palacios then captured the individual title with a birdie on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.

"Amira has been practicing well and had some moments this spring," head coach Josh Brewer said. "To put it together for three days is a great boost of confidence, not only for herself but also our team. It tells we have five or six people that can go and win a tournament."


Freshmen Lees Sport Strong Junior Resumes
Freshmen Harang Lee, a native of Castro Uridales, Spain, and Sammi Lee, who hails from Winter Park, Fla., both arrived in Athens with impressive credentials.

Harang was ranked among the world's top-100 amateurs for much of 2012 and 2013, topping out at No. 32 in May 2012. She represented Europe in the 2012 Junior Ryder Cup and the 2013 Junior Solheim Cup.

Sammi was ranked No. 22 in the class of 2013 by Golfweek and wrapped up her junior playing days with a six-shot victory at the Davis Love III Junior Open last July.


A Break From Routine: Bulldogs Support Gym Dogs
Georgia altered its traditional post-round practice regimen following the second round of the SEC Championships. Instead, the Bulldogs raced from Greystone Golf and Country Club to the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex to watch UGA's Gym Dogs compete in the "Super Six" of the NCAA Championships.

"You want a chance to practice and work on your game, but we're worked hard all year," head coach Josh Brewer said. "They've earned this. We have a chance to go see Coach (Danna) Durante possibly win her first national title at Georgia and the 11th overall in the program's history. I think you've got to go support your fellow Bulldogs and cheer on the Gym Dogs."

The Gym Dogs, who entered the NCAAs ranked No. 6 in the nation, eventually finished fifth in the "Super Six." That represented Georgia's best NCAA finish since winning the national championship in 2009.

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