Lady'Backs face talented SEC field at golf championship

FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas junior Stacy Lewis leads the Lady Razorback golf team to Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss., for the 2007 Southeastern Conference Championship this weekend. Play begins on Friday, April 20, with Mississippi State serving as the host for the 2007 SEC event. Lewis is on fire, and heads into the SECs after a fifth-place finish at the LPGA’s Kraft Nabisco Championship and a victory in her last collegiate event. The Woodlands, Texas, native blasted through the Susie Maxwell Berning Classic hosted by Oklahoma the following week carding a school record 208 with rounds of 67-67-74 for the win. In addition to Lewis, sophomore Lucy Nunn, junior Ashley Medders and freshmen Alex Schulte and Krsitin Ingram make the trip. Head coach Kelley Hester, who has been on maternity leave, also returns to the traveling party. "We are very excited about SECs," said Hester. "There are nine teams in the conference who are in the top 27 in the country so it’s a very good field. That’s pretty amazing. This is one of those tournaments where you could win it or finish 10th without much separation." The Lady Razorbacks enjoyed a solid season with a stronger-than-normal spring schedule. Arkansas enters the SEC Championship ranked 24th by the Golfstat poll, but faces one of the toughest fields its seen all season with No. 3 Georgia, No. 5 Auburn, No. 6 Vanderbilt and No. 10 Florida headlining the list of teams. In addition, Arkansas faces No. 13 Tennessee, No. 25 Alabama, No. 26 LSU, No. 27 South Carolina, No. 83 Mississippi, No. 84 Mississippi State and No. 112 Kentucky also in the field. Arkansas also faces a challenge in the golf course at Old Waverly. The par 72, 6,432-yard course is unseen by Arkansas but not by Hester who played and won on the course during her time at Georgia. "It’s a ball-striker’s golf course," she said. "It should be a good course for Stacy. She has a lot of good momentum going into this tournament and I think this course sets up very well for her." Lewis’ accomplishments are well documented but less noted and equally as important has been the play of the other four team members. Nunn, a sophomore from Lawton, Okla., has shaved nearly two strokes off her freshman year average while Medders has also improved her numbers and been solid for Arkansas. Schulte qualified for eight of Arkansas’ nine events and Ingram, who joined the team at the semester break, is a welcome addition and really solidified the fifth spot in the lineup. "Kristin has come around and solidified that fifth spot for us," said assistant coach Shauna Estes. "As a team, our course management and decision-making has improved with each event. We’re heading in the right direction with fourth, third and second-place finishes in our last three events." "I’d love to see what happens after a fourth, third and second," joked Hester. "In the past we haven’t played our best golf in the spring. Kristin has taken a bit of the burden off the top four and made us all better." The three-day event begins at 8:30 a.m. each morning and is hosted by Mississippi State for the first time since 1994. Teams enjoy a practice round Thursday with Arkansas teeing off with Vanderbilt and Florida at 8:30 a.m., Friday from the first hole. For more information about Arkansas golf, please log on to LADYBACKS.COM.