No. 27 Lady'Back linksters at NCAA Regionals this weekend
FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas women’s golf team appears anxious and ready to play on the eve of the 2007 NCAA Central Regional Championship in Ann Arbor, Mich., Thursday-Saturday, May 10-12. The three-day event whittles a field of 21 to eight as all of the teams hope to advance to the NCAA Championship later this month. "It’s a pretty good field, "said Arkansas head coach Kelley Hester. "It seems very balanced. We are seeded a bit lower than I might have thought but if we play the way we’re capable of, we’ll be fine." Arkansas enters the week ranked 27th in the most recent Golfstat poll and is the ninth seed in Ann Arbor, Mich., one of three regional sites. The other teams at the Central site (by seed) include No. 3 Georgia, No. 9 Vanderbilt, No. 6 Southern Cal, No. 13 Tennessee, No. 15. Arizona, No. 20 Michigan State, No. 24 Texas Christian, No. 36 Baylor, No. 27 Arkansas, No. 29 Kent State, No. 32 Ohio State, No. 34 Northwestern, No. 42 Michigan, No. 49 Missouri, No. 45 Southern Methodist, No. 50 Maryland, No. 42 Indiana, No. 53 North Carolina-Wilmington, No. 101 Oral Roberts, No. 91 Southern Illinois and No. 201 St. Francis (Pa.). The Lady’Backs are paced by junior all-Southeastern Conference and all-American Stacy Lewis for much of the season. Lewis, who battles chronic back pain, was unable to compete at the SEC Championship and has been trying to prepare for this week’s regional. Although not 100 percent, Lewis looks like a go for the weekend. "We’re honestly hoping she’ll be ready," said Hester. "We’re treating her day-to-day and we’ll just see what she can do." As for the rest of the team, Arkansas will rely on sophomore Lucy Nunn and three freshmen, Kristin Ingram, Corinna Rees and Alex Schulte to get the team to the NCAA Championship. Although young, Hester likes the chemistry of the traveling five. "We’re definitely young," she said. "We have three freshmen, one sophomore and a junior on the course. That can be either good or bad. Sometimes a senior-dominated team puts lot of pressure on themselves because it’s their last chance to make it. We’re going to try and make this week as light as we can. We’re going to try and put ourselves in a position to win the tournament just like we would for any other event. We’ll let them be nervous at the national championship," Hester smiled. Arkansas is playing the par 71, 6,116-yard course for the first time in the program’s history but Hester isn’t worried. "Shauna (Estes, Arkansas assistant coach) printed out the hole-by-hole information from their website and hung it up in the locker room," said Hester. "The girls were like ‘oh, neat’ and we said ‘no, study it.’ We’ll learn a lot from the practice round and just go from there." Competition gets underway Thursday at 7:00 a.m. central with groups starting at both the first and 10th holes. Arkansas tees of at 7:10 central with TCU and Baylor. For more information about Arkansas golf, please log on to LADYBACKS.COM.