The No. 24 University of Florida women’s golf team begins postseason play with a trip to Auburn, Ala. for the 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship. The 31st edition of the SEC Championship, hosted by Auburn, will be held at the par-72, 6,364-yard Auburn University Golf Club from April 15-17. This is the second time Auburn has hosted the SEC Championship with the other taking place in1999.
“We got to play a competitive round (at Auburn) last spring,” Florida head coach Jan Dowling noted. “It’s a course that requires hitting blind shots. There are some blind tee shots and some blind shots you hit into the greens. (The course is) very undulated and very hilly which is not something we get a lot here in Florida. I know this team is preparing themselves for it. We are ready for any tournament that we are faced with.”
Last time out, the Gators posted a fifth place finish at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in Athens, Ga. from April 1-3, culminating the event with a tournament record 283 using traditional “five count four” scoring in the final round. Sophomore Isabelle Lendl (Goshen, Conn.) paced Florida with a 218 (+2) that landed her in fifth individually, her second top-10 finish this season and highest finish of the season. Fellow sophomore Mia Piccio (Bacolod City, Philippines) barely missed a top-10 finish, ending with a 54-hole score of 223 (+7) that left her in a tie for 11th. Piccio has placed 16th or higher in all four tournaments Florida has competed in this spring.
The Florida rotation this weekend has Lendl at the front, Piccio second, senior captain Jessica Yadloczky (Casselberry, Fla.) in the three-hole, junior Evan Jensen (Belleair, Fla.) in the fourth position and junior Andrea Watts (Bradenton, Fla.) rounding out the lineup.
Play begins at 8:30 a.m. ET Friday and Florida will tee off at 9:20. Watts will be the first Gator to step into the tee box at 9:20, followed by Jensen, Yadloczky, Piccio and Lendl. The Orange and Blue is paired with Vanderbilt and South Carolina in the first round.
The 12-team field includes eight teams ranked in the top 25 of the Golf World/NGCA Coaches’ Poll: No. 2 Alabama, No. 6 LSU, No. 11 Arkansas, No. 13 Tennessee, No. 14 Georgia, No. 19 Vanderbilt, No. 20 Auburn and No. 24 Florida. Alabama enters as the defending SEC champion after winning the first title in program history in 2010 by four strokes.
The University of Florida has earned eight SEC crowns in program history, with the latest coming in 2008 where Jessica Yadloczky was a significant contributor, placing 12th with a 223 (+7). Florida’s eight SEC championships rank them second in conference history behind only Georgia who boast 11 titles. Six Gators have claimed medalist honors with the most recent coming courtesy of two-time All-America honorable mention Aimee Cho in 2003.