Women’s Golf Team Hopes to have Productive Season
After an impressive 2011-2012 campaign, the Arkansas Razorbacks women’s golf team has set the expectations even higher this season. The team starts the year off No. 23 in the GolfWorld/National Golf Coaches Association Coaches’ Preseason Poll. The Razorbacks are also ranked No. 20 in the Golfweek.com preseason poll.
Coach Shauna Estes-Taylor is more than pleased with her team’s ranking, which has been given based on the team’s top returning players. Emily Tubert, Emma Lavy and Victoria Vela were among the talented group’s best finishers last season.
The junior Tubert is a first team all-american, all Southeastern Conference performer who has also received all-scholar team honors. Lavy, a Fayetteville native, was a consistent finisher who qualified in all 11 tournaments last year.
But with all the older talent and leadership comes a great incoming freshman class to add to the firepower. Arkansas nabbed one of the best recruiting classes in the country. Gabriela Lopez, Regina Plasencia and Kayli Quinton have already seen extensive time at the amateur level, and should make an immediate impact to start the season.
Lopez and Plasencia, both freshmen from Mexico, competed at the international amateur level this summer. Lopez participated in the U.S. Women’s Open and played in the Spirit International event with Tubert. Quinton is a three time Greater Houston City Junior Championship winner, who was ranked as the No. 13 recruit by Golfweek.com.
This incoming group may be the reason the Razorbacks are so highly ranked to start the season. The team has increased in size from seven last season to 11 this year in order to compensate for all the new talent the team has coming in this season.
“We had a pretty solid summer, most of our kids competed at a very high level,” Estes-Taylor said.
Many of the players were able to play in tournaments that tested their ability, which is why they have garnered such a high ranking to start the season.
“Overall our kids did a fantastic job of staying sharp competitively, and I think some of their great performances warranted our ranking,” Estes-Taylor added.
First up on the agenda for this season: the Old Waverly Bulldog Invitational in West Point, Miss. on Sept. 10, the first of three tournaments the team will participate in this fall. The Razorbacks are not as familiar with this course as previous opening tournaments, but expect to make a strong showing regardless. The fall schedule concludes with the Lady Tar Heel Invitational in North Carolina starting Oct. 12, and following that the Betsy Rawls Invitational in Austin, Texas beginning Oct. 28.
The Razorbacks are looking to build on the success of making it to the NCAA Championship for the second year in a row, where last season they finished 23rd overall. In the spring, the Razorbacks were able to host the NCAA Regional at the team’s home club, The Blessings.
The women’s team finished eighth in the Regional and went on to perform well at the NCAA Championships. To know just how tough the Razorbacks’ region is, the SEC is usually in the talks to be the best conference in the country. Ten of the 14 teams from the conference are ranked in the top 25 in preseason polls.
Aside from the competitive events the Razorbacks play in the fall, the main goal will once again be to make a strong showing in the NCAA Championship in Athens, Ga. The team knows this year it could be conquerable.