FEATURED TOURNAMENTS for the week of March 20
Hootie at Bulls Bay Collegiate Invitational__(Click for Live Scoring from Golfstat)__
Bulls Bay GC (Par 71, 7,200 yards)
The second-year event, put on by Bulls Bay owner Joe Rice, offers players a few sweet perks, not the least being the chance to play this standout new course designed by the late Mike Strantz that opened outside Charleston in winter 2001. As was the case a year ago, teams, along with tournament sponsors and guests, also will be treated to a concert by Hootie and the Blowfish (band members Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, Dean Felber and Jim Sonefeld at all members at the course as well as University of South Carolina alumni). The tournament raised $30,000 last year for the Hootie and the B__lowfish Foundation to improve public education in the Palmetto State, and tournament chairman Doug Carnes__ hopes to reach that figure again this year.
South Carolina, Clemson and the College of Charleston share hosting duties for the event, which was won by Kentucky in a one-hole playoff over Augusta State a year ago. Current PGA Tour rookie J.B. Holmes, a Wildcat senior in 2005, made a birdie on the playoff hole to give his team the victory. Augusta State’s Scott Jamieson took the individual title with a eight-under 205 score, five better than Wake Forest’s Webb Simpson.
This year’s favorites include the local schools as well as North Carolina, which is coming off its first team win since the fall of 2004 after claiming the title at last week's Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational.
FIELD: No. 20 Alabama, Auburn, Augusta State, Central Florida, College of Charleston, No. 15 Clemson, Florida State, No. 22 Kentucky, LSU, North Carolina, N.C. State, No. 16 South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Virginia, No. 12 Wake Forest.
Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic
The 34th playing of this staple on the women’s spring tournament calendar will be poignant as it marks the first time the event has been held since the November 2005 death of its now namesake, former Georgia women’s golf coach and athletics administrator Liz Murphey. Suffice it to say, Murphey’s accomplishments at Georgia were considerable. Under her leadership as assistant athletic director for women’s sports, Bulldogs’ teams won eight of 14 SEC women’s all-sports awards, presented annually to the outstanding program in the conference. She also oversaw the women’s golf team when it became an official varsity sport in 1978, leading the squad to 21 team and 18 individual titles from 1978 to 1986, and eventually became a charter member of the National Golf Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame.
As the Bulldogs look to host the event, they also are trying to make it back-to-back-to-back victories in the tournament (and 12 team triumphs overall). A year ago Georgia went wire-to-wire to win by 13 shots over LSU. More importantly, Todd McCorkle’s squad is looking to return to the form it showed in the fall, when Georgia finished no worse than third in any event compared to this spring, where it has posted an 11th-place finish at the Arizona Wildcat in February and a T-4 at the Cal Guadalajara Invitational.
Leading the charge for the Bulldogs will be Kelly Froelich, the event’s defending champion individually. The senior’s two-over 218 total won the event by two shots and allowed her to join a distinguished list of past winners, including Hollis Stacy (1973, Rollins); Beth Daniel (1977, Furman); Juli Inkster (1982, San Jose State), Jody Rosenthal (1983, 1984, 1985, Tulsa) and Vicki Goetze-Ackermann (1992, Georgia).
Another Georgia players to watch are Whitney Wade, a junior who leads the team with a 72.78 stroke average, and Taylor Leon, a freshman who just trails Wade with a 72.83 average. Leon and her two brothers (Tyler and Trent) were the subject of a profile I wrote for Golf World in our March 17 issue.
Look for Auburn, coming off a two-tournament win streak, and Arkansas, with former Bulldog Kelley Hester at the helm, to provide the toughest challenges.
FIELD: No. 9 Arkansas, No. 4 Auburn, Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Florida State, Furman, No. 8 Georgia, Kent State, Michigan State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, No. 20 Ohio State, Oklahoma, South Carolina, No. 13 Vanderbilt, No. 12 Wake Forest, No. 24 Washington.