Spartans Head to New Jersey for Rutgers Invitational
Spartanburg, S.C. - The USC Upstate women's golf team returns to action just five days after finishing its last tournament when it travels to New Jersey to take part in the Rutgers Invitational at the Rutgers University Golf Course this weekend (Oct. 14-15).
Upstate finished play at the Winthrop Invitational last Sunday, taking sixth place in the eight-team tournament. The Spartans will look to use the momentum built from the solid final round of the Winthrop Invitational this weekend at Rutgers.
The Rutgers Invitational is a 19-team team tournament which will be played over 36 holes with 18 holes played each day. The course plays at 5,847 yards and is a par-72 layout. Joining Upstate in the tournament is Boston College, Boston University, Central Connecticut, Delaware, Fairfield, Fairleigh Dickinson, Hartford, Hofstra, Long Island, Monmouth, Mount St. Mary's, Quinnipiac, Rutgers, Sacred Heart, Seton Hall, Siena, St. John's and Wagner. Upstate will be paired with Quinnipiac, Fairfield and the Rutgers individual players.
Upstate is making its fourth appearance in the Rutgers Invitational, and its third-straight trip to Piscataway, N.J., for the event. Last year, Taylor Pleier opened with a 79 and finished in a tie for 12th to lead the Spartans as Upstate finished 10th in the tournament. Upstate finished 14th in 2009 and tied for fifth in 2007.
Upstate head coach Todd Lawton will send his third different lineup into action this season when Rachel Lewis, Amanda Hall, Brittany Lowe, Pleier and Kaitlyn Prescott step to the tee for the tournament. Lewis, Hall, Lowe and Pleier have played in each of the three previous tournaments this season, while Prescott is making her Upstate debut.
Lewis has finished as the low Spartan in each of the first three tournaments of the year and leads the team with a 77 stroke average. The team is averaging 317.7 per round.
Looking Back at the Winthrop Invitational
Rachel Lewis turned in rounds of 81 and 78 and claimed a tie for 15th for her fourth career top 15 individual finish and finished as the low Spartan in the Winthrop Invitational which concluded last Sunday. Upstate improved its position on the leaderboard by moving up one spot from seventh to sixth with a 317 on Sunday. The 317 followed an opening round 337, an improvement of 20 strokes. The Spartans finished just two strokes out of fifth. Lewis turned in the lowest round in the first round, an 81, as Upstate struggled throughout the day. But, a resilient Spartan squad rebounded to cut 20 strokes off of its score on Sunday by counting scores of 78 (Lewis), 78 (Amanda Hall), 80 (Brittany Lowe) and 81 (Taylor Pleier).
Prescott Gets Her Shot
Looking for some stability at the No. 5 position, head coach Todd Lawton has turned to junior college transfer Kaitlyn Prescott this weekend at Rutgers. Lawton is using his third different lineup in four tournaments this year as now three players have played out of the No. 5 spot. Prescott competed in the NJCAA Nationals each of the last two years as a member of the women's golf team at Spartanburg Methodist College and had a standout prep career at Wren High School. She is making her Upstate debut this week.
Lewis Leads the Pack
Rachel Lewis came to Upstate in 2010 with a solid pedigree playing junior golf in her native Wales. Since joining the program, she has been the quintessential leader on the course for the Spartans. Just a sophomore, she is setting the standard for the team. She has finished as the low Spartan in each of the three tournaments this season and in 10 of 15 in her career. She also tops the club with a 77 stroke average, 3.8 strokes better than she averaged in what was a solid freshman last year.
Lowering the Stroke Averages
One thing that head coaches love to see out of their players is improvement in each player's career. Upstate has had four players play in tournaments this season who competed last season as well. All four have lowered their stroke averages from a year ago. Rachel Lewis is 3.8 strokes better than she was last season. Amanda Hall is 2.3 strokes better. Taylor Pleier has had an improvement 3.6 strokes, while Madison Bryant has improved by four shots.
Church Returns to Upstate
As a founding member of the women's program in 2005, Audrey Church helped establish the tradition for the Upstate team. She has returned to help lead the program in another facet, this time serving as the assistant coach. Church was a mainstay in the lineup for four years from 2005-09 and was a solid contributor alongside Richelle Wedzik, Richia Wedzik and Julie Miller. She is also an assistant professional at Woodfin Ridge Country Club and head's up the Woodfin chapter of Spartanburg's First Tee program.