October 15, 2010

Spartans Set To Begin Play Friday At Rutgers Invitational

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Spartanburg, S.C. - Coming off of its top performance of the season, a fifth-place finish at the Winthrop Intercollegiate, the USC Upstate women's golf team heads to Piscataway, N.J., to take part in the Rutgers Invitational this weekend.

Upstate will be making its second consecutive appearance in the Rutgers Invitational and the third showing in the last four years. Last year, the Spartans claimed 14th place in the 18-team event. Boston College is the two-time defending champion and returns to defend its title.

Upstate is one of 21 teams in this year's tournament. In addition to the Spartans the field will consist of Albany, Boston College, Boston University, Bucknell, Central Connecticut, Fairfield, Fairleigh Dickinson, Hampton, Hartford, Hoftsra, Lehigh, Long Island, Monmouth, Rutgers, Sacred Heart, St. Francis, St. John's, Seton Hall, Siena and Wagner.

The Rugters Invitational will be played on the par 72, 6,337-yard Rutgers University Golf Course on campus. Founded in 1961 and designed by Hal Purdy, the course will host the teams for a 36-hole tournament Friday and Saturday.

Upstate will send the lineup of Rachel Lewis, Amanda Hall, Taylor Pleier, Johanna Ebenhag and Summer Wall into action this week. This is the third time in four tournaments that head coach Todd Lawton has used the lineup, including the Winthrop Invitational when the Spartans came in fifth for their first top five finish since finishing fifth at the Larry Nelson Invitational in March of 2009. Lawton will again rely heavily on the freshmen in the lineup as Lewis, Hall and Pleier qualified in the top three positions for the tournament.

Lewis has been solid on the year, topping the Spartans with a 78.0 stroke average in three events. Hall has also been solid and has seen her scores drop from the start of the year. She owns an 80.5 stroke average. Pleier is third on the team with a 83.6 stroke average.

Looking Back At The Winthrop Intercollegiate
Upstate shot back-to-back rounds of 316 and Amanda Hall, playing in what amounted to a home tournament, finished as the low Spartan as the team finished fifth out of nine teams. Hall, a freshman from Fort Mill, S.C., recorded rounds of 79 and 76 to finish tied for 10th, the first top 10 finish in her collegiate career. Rachel Lewis recorded rounds of 81 and 76 to finish tied for 17th, while Taylor Pleier carded 76 and 82 to claim a tie for 20th, giving Upstate three players in the top 20.

Spartans Show Consistency
After opening the season at the tremendously difficult JU Labor Day Shootout at the famed Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass, Upstate has showed remarkable consistency in the last two tournaments. Not only did the Spartans lower their 18-hole team score (the second round of the JU Labor Day Shootout was shortened to nine holes) from a 354 to a 310 in the Great Smokies Intercollegiate, the team posted back-to-back rounds of 310 in the tournament. At the Winthrop Intercollegiate, Upstate shot back-to-back rounds of 316 to claim a top five finish. Amazingly, in the last two tournaments, the Spartans have carded the exact same score in each round of the tournaments.

Lewis, Hall Earn Top 10 Finishes
Last year, Upstate relied heavily on the game of Jennifer Judge. She claimed one top 10 finish on the year and was the only Spartan to finish in the top 10 in any tournament. This season, freshmen Rachel Lewis and Amanda Hall have each recorded top 10 finishes to lead the Spartans. Lewis finished tied for ninth at the Great Smokies Intercollegiate with an even-par score of 144. Hall finished tied for 10th at the Winthrop intercollegiate in Upstate's last tournament outing.

Tweet, Tweet - Birdies On The Island Green
Whether you are a professional golfer, part of a collegiate team, or an everyday duffer, playing the famed par-3 island green 17th at the TPC Sawgrass is exhilarating. It is also more than a challenge. However, Spartans Johanna Ebenhag and Summer Wall, both seniors, birdied the famed hole in the JU Labor Day Shootout.

Looking At The Newcomers
Head coach Todd Lawton has no choice but to rely on the five freshman who are starting their collegiate careers this fall. Though young and inexperienced, the group has a bevy of achievement on the high school and junior golf circuits. Local product Taylor Pleier was an all-state player and was a key member of the juggernaut Dorman High School program that is consistently one of the top two programs in the state. Amanda Hall, who is from Fort Mill, was also an all-state selection and helped lift her Fort Mill High School club to the most success it has had in the history of the program. Rachel Lewis may have the most difficult transition to make as any of the freshmen, crossing the Atlantic Ocean from her native Wales to play at Upstate. She is the reigning Welsh Girls' Champion and a member of the Welsh Girls' National Team that plays internationally. Madison Bryant  (Chapin) and Lucia Oelsner (Mauldin HS) had solid careers as well.