Lady'Back Linksters ready for Lubbock

Jump toNCAA Central Regionfield FAYETTEVILLE — The 20th-ranked University of Arkansas golf team travels to Lubbock, Texas, for the 2005 NCAA Central Region Championships Thursday-Saturday at the Rawls Course. This year’s Central Region field, one of three regional sites, is viewed by many as the most difficult of the three. In fact, Golfweek’s Lance Ringler called the field "a bowl of Fruit Loops with too much milk. The field is overflowing with teams that could finish in the top eight." It’s a sentiment Arkansas head coach Kelley Hester agrees with but is not afraid of. "Some people have dubbed this regional as the most difficult to get out of," said Hester. "I think there are 11 teams in the top 30 but I feel like the more difficult the field is, the better prepared we will be for the next event. I’m very confident heading into regionals and I’m convinced that we’re one of the teams that should go (on to the NCAA Championship). We’re excited, ready to go and focused." Arkansas will have to be. The top eight teams from each of the three regional sites advance to the NCAA Championship in Sun River, Ore., May 17-20. Arkansas heads into this regional meet as the 20th-ranked team in the country and the eight-seed in Lubbock. Third-ranked Auburn and fourth-ranked Arizona State are expected to lead the field, along with No. 12 LSU, No. 14 New Mexico, No. 15 Wake forest, No. 18 Missouri and No. 21 Texas, all of whom are seeded higher than the Lady’Backs. Arkansas, however, has a couple of advantages other teams don’t. First, the Lady’Backs played the Rawls Course, a rain-shortened two-round event in late September. Arkansas finished fifth in the event with identical rounds of 301. In addition, four of the five traveling players were also at that event and are familiar with the course. "We’re familiar with the course and the town," said Hester. That’s always a plus and it helps eliminate some of the stressors other teams might feel." Returning to Lubbock for the second time this season is redshirt freshman Stacy Lewis. Coming of the Southeastern Conference individual title two weeks ago, Lewis leads the team with a 74.00 stroke average and has challenged for medalist honors in nearly every event this season. Lewis is joined by juniors Amanda McCurdy and Courtney Mahon. The duo also played the Rawls Course earlier this season and add a host of experience, including two previous regional appearances, to the mix. Junior Lindsey Hinshaw, who enjoyed three solid rounds at the SEC Championships, returns as one of the counting five after playing the Rawls Course as an individual last fall. Senior Gena Johnson is the only newcomer to the group in Texas this week. Johnson is in the midst of the best season of her career including her best-ever finish at the conference championship in April. She has been a consistent contributor all season. The Lady Razorbacks open play Thursday at 7:40 a.m. from hole one. For more information about Arkansas golf log on to LADYBACKS.COM.The Central regional will be played May 5-7 at Jerry S. Rawls Course, Lubbock, Texas, hosted by Texas Tech University. Conference automatic qualifiers are indicated in parenthesis next to the institution. Teams:1. Auburn (Southeastern Conference)2. Arizona State3. New Mexico4. LSU5. Wake Forest6. Texas7. Missouri
8. ARKANSAS9. Michigan10. Tulsa (Western Athletic Conference)11. TCU12. Southern Methodist13. Purdue14. Michigan State15. Kent State (Mid-American Conf.)16. Baylor17. Texas A&M18. South Florida19. Texas Tech20. Notre Dame21. Long Island (Northeast Conference) Individuals:1. Louise Kenney, Iowa State2. Emily Milberger, Oklahoma3. Merynn Ito, Nebraska