USC Women Ready For SEC Championships
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (USC SID) — No. 23 South Carolina opens postseason play at the SEC Championship this weekend in Birmingham, Ala. For the fourth-straight year, the
54-hole event will take place at the Greystone Golf and Country Club, and live scoring and tee times for the tournament can be found on Golfstat.com.
This weekend marks the 25th appearance at the tournament for the Gamecocks, who have earned top-three finishes in each of the last three years at the event
and runner-up honors the last two seasons. South Carolina has finished fifth or better in five of its eight appearances at the championship under head coach
Kalen Anderson, and the Gamecocks’ lone league title came in the 2002 season.
Junior Katelyn Dambaugh matched an SEC Championship 18-hole record with her second-round 65 (-7) last year, and she and senior Sarah Schmelzel both enter
this weekend with top-10 finishes at the tournament. Sophomore Ainhoa Olarra and freshman Marion Veysseyre will both be making their postseason debuts for
the Gamecocks in Alabama.
Dates: Fri., April 15 – Sun., April 17
Location: Birmingham, Ala.
Course: Greystone Golf and Country Club
Format: 54-hole stroke play
The Lineup: Sarah Schmelzel, Katelyn Dambaugh, Ainhoa Olarra, Marion Veysseyre, Jia Xin Yang
The Field: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Live Scoring: Golfstat.com
FROM THE COACH
“We’re starting to hit our stride and peak heading into the postseason. We just need to play our game, and we know the golf course. It’s a great course for a women’s championship, and it’s going to separate the great teams from those that aren’t supposed to win. The important thing is that we go out there and minimize the mental errors.” – Kalen Anderson
BREAKING DOWN THE FIELD
Six teams ranked in Golfstat’s Top-25 will be in action at the SEC Tournament, including four top-10 programs. Top-ranked Alabama highlights the field, and No. 5 Georgia, No. 7 Florida and No. 8 Arkansas will also be competing along with No. 23 South Carolina and 25th-ranked Texas A&M. The Aggies, the 2015 SEC Champions, are one of seven SEC schools to head into the postseason with a regular-season tournament win under their belt. This weekend will be South Carolina’s first head-to-head meeting with Ole Miss and Florida this season.
RECAPPING THE BRYAN NATIONAL COLLEGIATE
South Carolina notched its second runner-up finish (894, +30) of the spring in its regular-season finale at the Bryan National Collegiate (April 1-3). Senior Sarah Schmelzel claimed medalist honors after finishing with a three-day total of 219 (+3), while junior Katelyn Dambaugh totaled a 5-over 221 to place in a tie for second and grab her fifth-straight top-10 finish. Ainhoa Olarra (T15) also turned in a successful weekend, as the sophomore shot a 226 (+10) on the way to her second top-20 showing of the season for the Gamecocks, who have finished second in two of their last three appearances at the event.
GOING OUT ON TOP
Playing in her final collegiate regular-season tournament, senior Sarah Schmelzel broke through, tallying her first career medalist honor at the Bryan National Collegiate. Schmelzel battled windy conditions all weekend and played her final nine holes at 1-under (34) to secure the individual title. The Phoenix, Ariz., native became the first Gamecock to finish atop the individual leaderboard since Nanna Madsen won the 2014 Mercedes-Benz Collegiate, and she is the fifth medalist under head coach Kalen Anderson.
South Carolina, which began the spring ranked No. 43 by Golfstat, moved into the top 25 in the national poll earlier this month. The Gamecocks sit at No. 23 in its latest rankings (April 13), and they are also ranked 21st by Golfweek. Junior Katelyn Dambaugh (No. 14) and senior Sarah Schmelzel (No. 50) mark the two Gamecocks in Golfweek’s top 50 rankings.
MODEL OF CONSISTENCY
Katelyn Dambaugh notched top-10 finishes in six of her eight tournaments during the regular season. The junior placed in a tie for second in three of her last five tournaments (Bryan National Collegiate, FSU Match-Up, Landfall Tradition), and she saw a third-place showing in last September’s ANNIKA Intercollegiate. Dambaugh’s 72.17 stroke average is on pace to break South Carolina’s single-season scoring average, and the Third Team Preseason All-American has finished par or better in 10 rounds during her junior campaign.
RECAPPING THE WILDCAT INVITATIONAL
South Carolina tallied its fourth-straight top-10 finish following its seventh-place showing at the Wildcat Invitational in Tucson, Ariz., last month. Three Gamecocks finished in the Top 25, including junior Jia Xin Yang (221, +5), who posted her lowest 54-hole total since the 2014 ANNIKA Intercollegiate. Senior Sarah Schmelzel placed in a tie for 18th with a three-round score of 220 (+4), while junior Katelyn Dambaugh grabbed another top-10 finish after ending in seventh (216, E). Junior Marianna Monaco made her debut in South Carolina’s lineup and finished in a tie for 52nd following her two-day total of 229 (+13).
Junior Katelyn Dambaugh was tabbed the SEC Women’s Golfer of the Week earlier this spring (March 16) following her ninth-place finish (216, E) at the Wildcat Invitational. Dambaugh has recorded top-10 finishes in each of her last five tournaments, and her 72.17 stroke average this season ranks seventh in the league. The accolade marked the fourth career weekly conference honor for Dambaugh.
RECAPPING THE DARIUS RUCKER INTERCOLLEGIATE
South Carolina climbed up the leaderboard on the final day of the fifth annual Darius Rucker Intercollegiate to finish in a tie for eighth (887, +35) at the 54-hole event. The host Gamecocks were led by junior Katelyn Dambaugh (T-7), who notched her fourth top-10 finish of the season after posting a three-day total of 217 (+4). Sophomore Ainhoa Olarra continued her strong play this spring with a 26th-place finish (222, +9), while freshman Marion Veysseyre placed in a tie for 39th after tallying a career-best 225 (+12). Veysseyre posted a new low 18-hole mark with a 2-over 73 in the second round at Long Cove Club. Alabama earned its third title at the tournament after totaling an 868 (+16), while Virginia (875, +23) and Duke (878, +26) rounded out the top three.
STRONG START TO THE SPRING
The Gamecocks opened their spring slate with their best finish of the 2015-16 season, a second-place showing at the FSU Match-Up (Feb. 12-14). South Carolina totaled a three-day score of 875 (+11), and three Gamecock golfers notched top-10 finishes, including junior Katelyn Dambaugh, who placed second at 1-under 215. Senior Sarah Schmelzel was fourth after totaling an even 216, while Ainhoa Olarra tied for eighth (219, +3). Olarra’s performance marked her lowest career 54-hole total and the first top-10 finish for the sophomore.
Junior Katelyn Dambaugh currently ranks in the top 25 in Division I in three statistical categories this season. Her 72.17 scoring average stands as the 21st-best mark, and she is seventh in greens in regulation (73.8 percent) and 13th in par-5 scoring (4.75).
Junior Katelyn Dambaugh matched her career-best 65 at the 2015 ANNIKA Intercollegiate, once again tying the program’s low 18-hole record. Her performance that weekend tied the school’s low 54-hole record of 207. She is currently on pace to break the school’s career scoring average record with a mark of 73.25. Senior Sarah Schmelzel (74.35) also sits in the top five (4th) on South Carolina’s career scoring average list. Her 54-hole score of 210 at the 2015 ANNIKA Intercollegiate ranks sixth on the school’s all-time list.
The Gamecocks, who competed in four events during the fall, saw a strong finish to their year when they fired a season-low 283 (-5) in the final round of the Landfall Tradition. South Carolina’s ninth-place finish at the event marked the second top-10 showing of the fall for the Gamecocks, who placed ninth at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate (Sept. 27-29). Junior Katelyn Dambaugh paced South Carolina with two top-three finishes and a 71.92 stroke average this fall, while Sarah Schmelzel finished in the top 20 in two events. The senior’s 6-under (70-69-71=210) at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate marked the lowest 54-hole total in her collegiate career.
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
South Carolina resumes postseason play next month at the NCAA Regionals, set for May 5-7. This year’s regional sites are Stanford, Calif., Bryan, Texas, Baton Rouge, La., and Shoal Creek, Ala. The Gamecocks captured the 2015 NCAA East Regional Title, winning the event with a three-day score of 13-over (877).