2011 Women's Golf Fall Recap
Spartanburg, S.C. – In the second year in rebuilding the team, head coach Todd Lawton certainly has seen his progress pay off. The Spartans turned in their second-lowest fall scoring average in its five seasons playing on the Division I level, and are doing so with three sophomores and two freshmen in the lineup. After playing five tournaments and wrapping up the fall season, it is time to recap the fall as the team takes a break and gets set for the spring season.
Rachel Lewis began the 2011-12 season much like she played throughout the 2010-11 campaign, as the top Spartan in the tournament. She finished tied for 25th with rounds of 77 and 80 to lead the Spartans, but Upstate finished eighth to open the season at the Terrier Intercollegiate. Upstate shot team rounds of 323 and 325 to finish with a 648 total. The Spartans finished 12 shots better than The Citadel. In all, Upstate posted three scores in the 70s, including a 77 in the final round by freshman Brittany Lowe to lead the cause on the second day. The round enabled Lowe to move into the third position on the team for the tournament in her collegiate debut.
Great Smokies Intercollegiate
In the 2010 Great Smokies Intercollegiate, Rachel Lewis opened with a school record 69 to break the individual single-round school record by three strokes. At this year's tournament, another school record fell when the team turned in a 297 to break the Upstate's single-round school record by two shots. The performance helped lead the Spartans to a 14th-place finish out of 23 teams in the tournament, an improvement of six positions and 16 strokes over the 2010 result. Rachel Lewis led the way for Upstate. She finished at 2-over-par for the tournament to take 15th place out of 123 players. She shot rounds of 75 and 71. Amanda Hall, Taylor Pleier and Brittany Lowe each opened the tournament by carding 74. Pleier finished as the second-lowest Spartan with a 151 total after rounds of 74 and 77. Hall was the third Spartan at 153, while Lowe was the fourth-lowest at 154.
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).
Amanda Hall had a tremendous tournament and claimed a top 15 position when she finished tied for 12th at the Rutgers Invitational on Oct. 15. Hall turned in rounds of 76 and 81 to finish with a 36-hole 157 total. It marked the first time this season that someone other than Rachel Lewis finished as the low Spartan in a tournament. Lewis turned in a top 35 effort when she totaled 162 to finish tied for 34th. Hall and Lewis led Upstate to team rounds of 322 and 331 to finish tied for 11th in the 19-team tournament.
Taylor Pleier and Brittany Lowe both claimed top 20 individual finishes to lead the USC Upstate women's golf team to a fifth-place finish at the Hatter Classic to put an end to the fall season. The Spartans posted rounds of 324, 312 and 317 to finish fifth with a 953 total. They finished 18 strokes ahead of Florida Atlantic and Seminole College and 34 ahead of A-Sun rival Lipscomb. Pleier led the Upstate cause individually. She shot a 79 in the final round and finished the tournament in 16th place with a 54-hole total of 235. She was just three strokes out of a top 10 finish. Lowe shot a 78 in the final round to move into a top 20 individual position. She finished tied for 20th with a 238 total, just six strokes out of a top 10 position.
The Turnaround Has Started
While clearly there is work needed to be done and improvements to make, there are very encouraging signs coming out of the fall for Upstate. The Spartans turned in an average round of 319.3 in five tournaments. It marked the second-best fall scoring average since the program moved to Division I in 2007. The average trails only the 2008-09 squad, which averaged 317.3 per round. It also served as a major improvement over the last two years when the Spartans averaged 329.5 in 2009 and 329.6 in 2010.
Lewis in Familiar Territory
Sophomore Rachel Lewis found herself in familiar territory through the first three tournaments of the fall season. She finished as the low Spartan in each tournament, like she did for much of the 2010-11 season as a freshman. She finished as the low Spartan in seven out of 12 tournaments last year.
A Solid Top Four
In 2010-11, Upstate struggled to find a consistent effort out of the No. 4 and No. 5 spots in the lineup. With a solid recruiting class, the Spartans have helped solidify the No. 4 spot. Brittany Lowe, a freshman from Spartanburg and Dorman High School, has made an immediate impact. She ranks fourth on the team with an 80.8 stroke average and has rotated with Taylor Pleier, her teammate at Dorman as well, for the No. 3 and No. 4 positions throughout the fall. If Upstate can make improvements at the No. 5 position, the Spartans could make even more of an impact in the spring.
Another Record Falls
In Upstate's second tournament of the fall, the unit teamed to break the single-round school record by shooting a 297 in the first round of the Great Smokies Intercollegiate. Taylor Pleier, Amanda Hall and Brittany Lowe each shot 74, while Rachel Lewis added a 75 to shoot 297. The round was two shots better than the previous record of 299 shot at the Great Smokies in 2008.
Holding Winning Records
It should not be a surprise that last year's statistical leaders, Rachel Lewis and Amanda Hall, have continued to lead the team in 2011-12. Not only do they own the top two scoring averages on the team, 78.9 for Lewis and 79.5 for Hall, they also both own a positive winning percentage head-to-head against other tournament players. Lewis tops the Spartans with a .686 winning percentage, while Hall is second at .578.
Lowering the Stroke Averages
Upstate has been able to lower its team stroke average by virtue of adding a solid fourth score. But, the Spartans have also made an impact by lowering the scoring averages of its returning players as well. Rachel Lewis leads the team with a 78.9 stroke average this year. That is 1.9 strokes better than her 80.8 stroke average a year ago. Amanda Hall averages 79.5 per round this season, two strokes better than her 81.5 average last season. Taylor Pleier averages 80.6 this season, a full 3.3 strokes better than last year, while Madison Bryant has improved her average by four shots.