West Florida Women's Golf GSC Championships Preview
No. 22 Argonauts Will Attempt to Win Their Fifth GSC Title in a Row
PENSACOLA, Fla. – Entering the Gulf South Conference Championships approaching this coming weekend April 18-19, the No. 22 West Florida women’s golf team is the top contender for the 2010 title being the only Golf World/NGCA Division II Coaches’ Poll ranked team in the GSC this season. With old rival Montevallo moving to the Peach Belt Conference this year, Henderson State could be some of the top competition the Argonauts with face this year in their attempt to win their fifth GSC Championship in a row.
Henderson State finished second place in 2009 by 12 strokes, shooting 650 to West Florida’s 638 allowing the Argonauts to clinch the fourth of five GSC titles since the conference started officially hosting the tournament in 2005. Montevallo finished in third place, while West Georgia placed a distant 19 strokes back in the fourth spot shooting a 657. So far this season, the Lady Reddies have placed in the top-five once with a fourth place finish at the Oak Hills Invitational hosted by East Central Oklahoma. HSU has also claimed a 14th place finish at Texas A&M-Commerce’s Lion Invitational and an 8th place finish at No. 7 Barry’s Lady Bucs’ Invitational where UWF finished sixth. West Georgia has finished in the top-five of each field this season, highlighted by a win at the Covenant College Reeder Cup shooting a total 745 (386-359) as well as second place finish at their home tournament, the UWG Invitational, and a fifth place finish at Berry’s College Invitational.
“Our team will see some competition out of a few of the teams this year, but the girls have persevered through some competitive tournaments this season and have performed well,” commented Head Coach Jennifer Pandolfi. “We had two good wins this season as well. I have no doubt that returning to Hot Springs and this familiar course will allow us to claim our third win.”
West Florida has maintained a national ranking the entire spring season, which was kicked off with a win at the Ann Rhoads Classic hosted by Birmingham-Southern after shooting a 655 (328-327) to beat the field by 10 strokes. The Argonauts followed up their win with two challenging tournaments, first finishing ninth at Division I South Alabama’s Lady Jaguar Invitational before placing sixth at No. 7 Barry’s Lady Bucs’ Invitational which hosted five of the top-25 teams in the nation. UWF finished the regular season with a fifth place finish at NAIA No. 2 Embry-Riddle’s Bash at the Beach, shooting a total 624 (317-307).
“The line-up we have will provide us with a consistency of lower scores that we have exhibited over the years,” said Pandolfi. “These ladies have performed well all season, and with two returning GSC Championship medalists playing at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, it will allow us to depend on our top two players with the depth to back them up.”
Junior Bhavna Shetty (Mysore, India/Sadvidya HS), 2009 GSC Player of the Year, will look to defend her GSC medalist finish at the 2009 tournament having the lowest scoring average for the team this season with a 77.76. Out of eight tournament played the entire 2009-2010 season, Shetty finished in the top-10 in six tournaments, including finishes tied for third at the Ann Rhoads Birmingham-Southern Shootout and most recently at Embry-Riddle’s Bash at the Beach, shooting 146 (71-75) and 150 (76-74) respectively.
Senior Natalia Espinosa (Bogota, Colombia/Colegio Nueva Granada) will also prove to be a contender for medalist honors in her last season, winning the tournament back in 2008 as well as being named a member of the GSC All-Tournament Team three times in her career. Espinosa has the second lowest scoring average with a 78.47, finishing in the top-10 in five of eight tournaments this season. Her two low finishes were both ties for seventh place, shooting 149 (76-73) at the Ann Rhoads Birmingham-Southern Shootout and 160 (83-77) at the Ann Rhoads Classic.
Newcomer Jenny Lines (Birmingham, Ala./Spring Hill) has provided excellent depth this season and will be an important factor, averaging 80.40 in 2010. Lines had four top-15 finishes the entire year, having a low finish tie for third with Shetty at the Ann Rhoads Birmingham-Southern Shootout which included a program record-breaking 69 during the final round to shoot 146 (77-69).
The first round of the GSC Championships for the women’s golf teams will begin Sunday, April 18 beginning at 9 a.m. when they will play their first round of 18 holes. The teams will complete the final round of the tournament Monday, April 19 with the first tee times starting at 10 a.m. For information on all UWF Athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com.