Lady'Back Linksters return to the course in Florida

FAYETTEVILLE — After a long winter’s break, the 20th-ranked University of Arkansas women’s golf team returns to the links at the Central District Invitational at River Wilderness Golf Course in Parrish, Fla., Monday and Tuesday. The Lady Razorbacks last played at their lone home event, the Lady Razorback Invitational, Oct. 17-19, at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark. "We’ve had a four, four-and-a-half month break," said head coach Kelley Hester. "I’m not really sure what to expect. But thanks to a wonderful gift from the Tyson’s and Fred and Mary Smith, we are the best prepared team I’ve had since coming to Arkansas." The Lady Razorbacks have spent the layoff training at Blessings and the Fred and Mary Smith Razorback Golf Training Facility in Johnson. The Lady Razorbacks are making their third appearance at the Central District Invitational and the event is the first of five regular season spring events for the team. "Unfortunately, we’re going to be a little rusty," admitted Hester. "The fall didn’t end as well as we’d hoped and that’s been in the back of the team’s mind all winter. We have the advantage of knowing this course with three players in the traveling party returning this year. I’m excited to just go out and let them play." Redshirt freshman Stacy Lewis is making her fifth consecutive trip and leads the team with a 74.09 stroke after fall play. Junior El Dorado, Ark., native Amanda McCurdy is next with a 74.82 mark. The duo is joined by Hot Springs, Ark., senior Gena Johnson and juniors Sarah Trew and Courtney Mahon. The Lady Razorbacks enter the spring with one of their highest rankings in recent memory at number 20 in the first poll of the spring. They face a strong field including No. 43 Baylor, No. 115 Indiana, No. 73 Kansas State, No. 14 Louisiana State, No. 23 Michigan, No. 47 Michigan State, No. 13 Missouri, No. 61 Nebraska, No. 44 Northwestern, No. 30 Notre Dame, No. 8 Ohio State, Southern Methodist, No. 51 Texas A&M and No. 46 Texas Tech. "This is a good field to open the spring with," said Hester. "It’s a good opportunity for us to beat some teams from up north who are ranked above us. I feel like we have an advantage over some of the northern teams because of weather. We haven’t missed a day outside yet. I couldn’t have asked for anything better." The season continues with a return trip to Florida March 4-6, as the Lady Razorbacks take part in the Lady Gator Invitational hosted by Florida. For more information about Arkansas golf log on to LADYBACKS.COM.