Spartanburg, S.C. – The USC Upstate women's golf team will make the short trip up the mountains of Western North Carolina to participate in its second tournament of the season when it tees off Monday morning at the Great Smokies Intercollegiate at the Waynesville Inn and Golf Club.
Upstate will make its fourth appearance in the tournament when it tees off Monday morning. The Spartans finished ninth in 2008 and were led by current assistant coach and former player Audrey Church, who finished tied for 26th. Upstate finished 20th in 2009 with the tournament shortened to one round due to heavy rain. Last year, the Spartans claimed 20th, but Rachel Lewis finished tied for ninth at even-par. Lewis also made program history with a 69 in the opening round to break the single-round record at Upstate.
The Great Smokies Intercollegiate will have a large field with 23 teams. The field consists of Appalachian State, UAB, Belmont, Bowling Green State, The Citadel, Eastern Kentucky, Gardner-Webb, Jacksonville, Louisiana-Monroe, Methodist, Newberry, Northwood, Presbyterian College, Radford, Rollins, Savannah College of Art & Design, South Alabama, Tennessee Tech, UNC Greensboro, Upstate, Western Carolina and Western Kentucky.
The Great Smokies Intercollegiate will be played at the Waynesville Inn and Golf Club. The course plays at 5,932 yards and is a par-72 layout. It was designed by Donald Ross, who also designed the Pinehurst #2 course that has been the site of the U.S. Open.
Lawton will carry the same lineup into this week's tournament as he did to open the season at the Terrier Intercollegiate. Lawton will send Rachel Lewis, Amanda Hall, Brittany Lowe, Taylor Pleier and Kristi Goodman into action. The five combined to average 324 for the Terrier Intercollegiate with Rachel Lewis leading the way with rounds of 77 and 80.
Looking Back at the Terrier Intercollegiate
Rachel Lewis began the 2011-12 season much like she played throughout the 2010-11 campaign, as the top Spartan in the tournament. She finished tied for 25th with rounds of 77 and 80 to lead the Spartans, but Upstate finished eighth to open the season at the Terrier Intercollegiate. Upstate shot team rounds of 323 and 325 to finish with a 648 total. The Spartans finished 12 shots better than The Citadel. In all, Upstate posted three scores in the 70s, including a 77 in the final round by freshman Brittany Lowe to lead the cause on the second day. The round enabled Lowe to move into the third position on the team for the tournament in her collegiate debut.
Youth Movement Continues
In 2010-11, the Upstate was led by three freshmen at the top of the lineup. Rachel Lewis led the team in stroke average and was followed by Amanda Hall and Taylor Pleier. The three claimed all five of Upstate's top 10 finishes on the year. The three are now sophomores and seasoned veterans based on the amount of time on the course they put in last year. However, a new crop of newcomers looks to infuse the team with talent and energy the way the three sophomores did a year ago. Kristi Goodman and Brittany Lowe qualified to compete in the Wofford Invitational, pitting two freshman into the lineup alongside the three sophomores. The youth movement continues for the Spartans.
Dynamic Dorman Duo
Upstate head coach Todd Lawton has built his golf programs at Upstate on the shoulders of players from the Palmetto state. That trend has continued with the addition of Brittany Lowe to the team this season. The freshman joins a familiar face in Taylor Pleier. Pleier and Lowe were teammates for five years at Dorman High School and have been reunited at Upstate. As Cavaliers, the two helped lead Dorman to three-straight second-place finishes in the 4A state tournament.
Goodman, Lowe Solid High School Pedigrees
Upstate freshmen Kristi Goodman and Brittany Lowe certainly come into the program with strong backgrounds from their high school careers. Goodman is a three-time 4A All-State selection and finished second in the 2010 4A state tournament as a senior. She led her Easley High School squad to a third-place finish. Lowe was a mainstay in the lineup at Dorman High School, a program that has traditionally been one of the best in the state. She was a member of the Cavalier team that finished second three-straight years and was an All-State player as a senior.
Church Returns to Upstate
As a founding member of the women's program in 2005, Audrey Church helped establish the tradition for the Upstate team. She has returned to help lead the program in another facet, this time serving as the assistant coach. Church was a mainstay in the lineup for four years from 2005-09 and was a solid contributor alongside Richelle Wedzik, Richia Wedzik and Julie Miller. She is also an assistant professional at Woodfin Ridge Country Club and head's up the Woodfin Ridge branch of Spartanburg's First Tee program.