Spartans Tee Off in Spider at St. James Saturday
Spartanburg, S.C. - The USC Upstate women's golf team gets back in the swing of things this weekend when it travels to Southport, N.C., to participate in the Spider at St. James Saturday and Sunday.
The 54-hole tournament is being played on the Jack Nicklaus designed Reserve Course at the St. James Plantation. The par 72 layout plays at 6,050 yards. The teams will play 36 holes with a shotgun start on Saturday and 18 holes on Sunday.
Upstate is one of 12 teams in the tournament hosted by Richmond. Joining Upstate and Richmond in the event is Appalachian State, Boston College, Charleston Southern, The Citadel, Delaware, Gardner-Webb, UNC Pembroke, Presbyterian, Winthrop and Wofford.
Upstate head coach Todd Lawton will send the lineup of Taylor Pleier, Amanda Hall, Brittany Lowe, Kristi Goodman and Madison Bryant into action this week. Pleier, Hall and Lowe have played in all six tournaments in 2011-12, while Goodman has suited up for four events. Bryant will be playing her second tournament of the year.
Upstate owns a 319.3 stroke average for the year and will look to get off to a good start this weekend. Hall tops the Spartans with a 79.6 stroke average, 1.3 strokes below her career average. Pleier is second on the team with an 80.1 stroke average, while Lowe is third at 81.4.
Upstate is coming off a fifth-place showing at the Courtyard Classic in Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 5-7. The Spider at St. James marks the first tournament for the squad in 32 days. The Spartans shot rounds of 322, 323 and 313, saving their best round for the final round to finish fifth. Pleier was the low Spartan in the tournament, finishing 13th with a 235 total. She lowered her score in each round and carded a 75 in the final round to lead the Spartan cause.
Spartans Near Record Breakers
While Upstate has methodically begun to turn things around with the last two recruiting classes coming in and making immediate impacts, the 2011-12 Spartans are battling history. Upstate currently owns a 319.3 stroke average for the season, the second-lowest in the history of the program which dates back to the 2005-06 season. Only the 2008-09 squad had a lower stroke average than this year's Spartans at 317.3. The 319.3 is more than 10 strokes ahead of the 2009-10 squad that owned a 329.5 average and the the 2010-11 team that averaged 329.6 per round.
Hall a Winner Head-to-Head
Arguably the top golfer in the program the last two years, sophomore Amanda Hall leads the Spartans in head-to-head record. She is 270-172 for a .561 winning percentage on the season. She has recorded rounds in the 70's six times this year, including both rounds of the Great Smokies Intercollegiate.
Pleier Beginning to Assert Herself
One of the more heralded recruits to come into the program in the last few years, sophomore Taylor Pleier is beginning to assert herself as a leader on the course for the Spartans. After turning in a workman-like fall, she has really turned things around in the last two tournaments. She ended the fall season shooting rounds of 80, 76 and 79 to finish 16th in the Hatter Fall Classic. In the first tournament this spring, she shot rounds of 81, 79 and 75 to claim 13th in the Courtyard Classic. Her average over the last two tournaments is 78.3, 1.8 strokes better than her overall season average of 80.1. She has also posted winning records over the opposition in four of the six tournaments so far this year.
Looking to Go Low
Through 14 rounds this year, Upstate has broken the 310 barrier just two times. Both rounds came in the Great Smokies Intercollegiate. The first was when the Spartans broke the single-round school record with a 297. They also turned in a 307 in the tournament. However, that is the only time the Spartans have broken 310 this season. Upstate does have four other rounds below 320.
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 en route to the record. The round was two shots better than the previous record of 299 shot at the Great Smokies in 2008.