Lady'Back golf team travels to Knoxville this weekend

FAYETTEVILLE — The 19th-ranked University of Arkansas women’s golf team returns to the links this weekend traveling to Knoxville, Tenn., for the Mercedes Benz Intercollegiate at Cherokee Country Club Friday-Sunday.

Arkansas opened the season two weeks ago with a third-place showing at the Wildcat Fall Classic hosted by Kentucky. They jumped into the Golfweek poll at No. 19, and are ranked 21st in the most recent Golfstat poll this week.

We’re excited to get back into competition," said Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes. "We’ve had a good week of practice and are looking forward to a good weekend on the course."

Arkansas faces a talented field on a course the team is familiar with having played the last three seasons. In addition to Arkansas, the field includes No. 5 Auburn, No. 8 Florida, No. 9 Purdue, No. 14 Tennessee and No. 19 Alabama, all of whom are ranked in the Golf World coaches’ poll. Also is the field is North Carolina, Kent State, LSU, Virginia, SMU, Ohio State and Central Florida who are all receiving votes in the polls this week.

"We’re definitely familiar with the course," said Estes. "It is tight off the tee and the greens are a little tricky. It sets up nicely for us because we’re pretty long and straight off the tees. We’re really going to focus on putting the ball in the hole and finishing strong this week."

Estes mixed up the lineup a bit this week as well. Senior Stacy Lewis, sophomore Kristin Ingram and freshman Kelli Shean were "exempt" from qualifying in practice thanks to top 20 finishes in the season opener at Kentucky.

The balance of the team fought for the final two spots with junior Lucy Nunn and sophomore Tiffany Phelps earning traveling spots this week.

"We want to give as many players a chance to play as we can this fall," said Estes. "We play three straight weeks and that’s tough so I might shuffle the lineup a bit week-to-week. We’ll just have to wait and see."

Defending national champion Lewis again leads the team and was successful in her first outing. The Woodlands, Texas, native opened with a 69 and finished the first event even to tie for third place overall.

Ingram tied for 16th overall and Shean, in her first-ever collegiate event, tied for 18th at Kentucky.

Arkansas’ fall will be a quick one. The Lady’Backs follow up the Mercedes Benz with the Stanford Intercollegiate Oct. 19-21, and wrap up the fall play at the UA Ann Rhoads Intercollegiate Oct. 26-28.

For more information about Arkansas golf, please log on to LADYBACKS.COM.