This Week in A-Sun Women's Golf, Feb. 16th

Saturday, February 16, 2013

MACON, Ga. – Stetson, ETSU, and USC Upstate kick off their spring 2013 schedules this week and FGCU hits the road for its second tournament as they all travel west for women’s golf action this week.

The Hatters tee it up in the Cal State Fullerton Folino Invitational at Industry Hills Golf Course at Pacific Palms Resort. The Hatters enter spring with momentum from their sixth consecutive victory in the Hatter Classic last November as they make their way to the west coast to open the spring season.

The women’s tournament at Cal State will be played on “The Babe” Course, named for women’s golfing legend Babe Didrikson Zaharias. The course will play to a par 71 covering 6,067 yards.

Stetson will be among 12 teams in the field for the women’s tournament. There will also be a nine-time men’s tournament played on the adjoining course, which is named for former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The field also includes Boise State, Cal Poly, host Cal State Fullerton, Gonzaga, Hawaii, New Mexico State, Portland State, UC Riverside, Montana and Wyoming. Gonzaga is the defending tournament champion, winning the event last February by 13 shots over the host Titans with a score of 897.

After Saturday practice rounds, the tournament includes three days of competition with 18 holes each day. The Hatters will play the opening round on Sunday starting at 12:17 p.m. (ET) and will play the first day with players from Sacramento State and New Mexico State. Claudie Redinger qualified No. 1, and will be joined by Sammi Smith, who finished the fall by winning the Hatter Classic. Jenna Hoecker, Ryan Ashburn and Mallory Viera round out the roster for Stetson.

ETSU begins play in the Jim West Challenge Sunday at the Vaaler Creek Golf Club in Blanco, Texas. ETSU is the second-higest ranked team in the field,  joining 11 other members of the field that includes Arkansas State, Ball State, No. 95 Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, Louisiana-Monroe, No. 99 Middle Tennessee, North Texas, No. 35 Texas State, UMKC, UTEP and William & Mary.

The Buccaneers are coming off a fall campaign in which they enjoyed a victory in the UNCG Starmount Forest Tournament, as well as a second place showing in the Palmetto Intercollegiate. ETSU is currently the highest ranked A-Sun women’s team, ranked 53rd by Golfweek.com and 56th by Golfstat.com.

Leading the way for ETSU with a team-best stroke average of 74.7 has been sophomore Gabriella Wahl, who a year ago earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Championships. She is followed closely by junior Sian Evans, an All Atlantic Sun Conference pick who has posted a stroke average of 74.9 so far this season.

In addition to the consistency of Wahl and Evans, the team has also gotten strong individual performances from others on the roster. This includes a second-place effort by true freshman Vivienne Chin in the team’s last event of the fall season, and a fifth-place showing by senior Chloe Garner earlier in the year.

USC Upstate opens its season at the Le Triomphe Collegiate hosted by McNeese State in Broussard, La., Feb. 18-19. The tournament will be played at the Le Triomphe Golf and Country Club designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., the home of the Buy.com Louisiana Open. This is the Spartans' first appearance in the tournament.

Upstate looks to build on its momentum from the fall as well, as the Spartans turned in a solid fall season playing its five tournaments in four different states. The best performance of the fall was the Spartans’ final tournament, finishing tied for 4th at the Hatter Classic.

The growing depth of the team is evident by the number of different players who finished as the top Spartan in each tournament. In five tournaments, four different players finished as the top Spartan. Last season, three players took turns as the best Spartan finisher in 10 tournaments for the entire year. However, the most telling stat of the fall for the Spartans is in the team stroke average. Upstate ended the fall with a 316.8 stroke average. It is on pace to topple the single season school record of 322.3 set in 2008-09. This year's stroke average is 5.5 strokes ahead of pace to break the record.

FGCU joins the Spartans in the field at the Le Triomphe Collegiate. The Eagles finished 10th in the 16-team field at the Hurricane Invitational in Miami last week, led by Kristin Swindell’s 231 to place in a tie for 29th. Briana Carlson, Georgia Price, Sara Detlefsen and Rebecca Van Etten rounded out the lineup for the Eagles. Live scoring from all three tournaments will be available on GolfStat.com.

The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, Northern Kentucky Universty, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.