Spartanburg, S.C. - The USC Upstate women's golf team will make its third of five stops in the state of Florida this year when it opens up the spring season at the JU Classic Sunday at Hidden Hills Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla. The 54-hole tournament will feature eight teams and will be played with 18 holes on each day with the final round being played on Tuesday.
Upstate is one of four teams from the A-Sun in the tournament, joining host Jacksonville, Florida Gulf Coast and Mercer. Miami, Bethune-Cookman, South Dakota State and defending champion Daytona State. will join the A-Sun schools in the tournament. Tee times will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday and Monday, and 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The tournament will be played on the 6,237-yard, par-72 Hidden Hills Country Club. The course was designed by Arnold Palmer.
Upstate will play its second 54-hole tournament this season. It will be a good barometer for what Upstate needs to do to handle a three-round event with three more three-day tournaments on the schedule.
Upstate will send the lineup of Rachel Lewis, Taylor Pleier, Amanda Hall, Johanna Ebenhag and Madison Bryant into action this week. Four of the five players are freshman, though the four have also garnered a tremendous amount of experience from the fall. Ebenhag is the only upperclassman in the lineup and will look to continue to provide leadership for the team. The Spartans average a score of 329.6 per round. Lewis tops the club with a 79.8 stroke average. Hall is second at 82.0, while Pleier is third on the team at 82.7. Ebenhag is fourth on the team at 87.1.
The JU Classic is the first of seven tournaments scheduled this spring for Upstate. The Spartans will make three more trips to Florida after this week, culminating in the A-Sun Championships played at Victoria Hills Golf Club in DeLand, the same course on which the Spartans played their final tournament in the fall. Upstate will also play a tournament in Arizona and two in South Carolina.
Looking Back at the Holiday Inn Express Hatter Classic
Upstate ended the fall season at the Holiday Inn Express Hatter Classic and claimed eighth in the nine-team tournament that tested the players with poor weather conditions throughout the 54-holes. The Spartans turned in rounds of 337, 334 and 329 to finish with a 1,000 total. Freshman Rachel Lewis led the Spartan cause, finishing tied for 29th with a 245 total. Fellow freshman Taylor Pleier finished one stroke back at 246 and finished tied for 31st. Amanda Hall, another freshman, was the third-lowest Spartan in the event, finishing at 251 in 37th place.
Recapping the Fall
There were certainly some bright spots and positive things to take from the five tournaments Upstate played in the fall. At the same time, the Spartans struggled to find consistency in scoring from round to round. After opening the tournament on The Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass, Upstate was solid in its next two tournaments, finishing with rounds of 310 and 310 in the Great Smokies Intercollegiate and 316 and 316 in the Winthrop Intercollegiate. However, the Spartans struggled in their next two events, shooting rounds of 334 and 338 in the Rutgers Invitational and 337, 334 and 329 in the Holiday Inn Express Hatter Classic. The team finished the fall with a 329.6 scoring average per round.
Individually, freshman Rachel Lewis paced Upstate in the fall. She led the team with a 79.8 stroke average. She also was the low Spartan in three of the five events. She claimed three top-20 finishes, placing in a tie for ninth after shooting even par at the Great Smokies Intercollegiate for her top finish. Fellow freshmen Amanda Hall and Taylor Pleier also finished as the low Spartan in one tournament each. Hall was second on the team with an 82 stroke average and claimed a tie for 10th for her best finish of the fall at the Winthrop Intercollegiate. Pleier was third on the team with an 82.7 stroke average and finished tied for 12th at the Rutgers Invitational for her best finish.
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.