Spartanburg, S.C. - The USC Upstate women's golf team will make its third trip to the state of Florida to play in the Marsh Landing Invitational hosted by A-Sun rival Jacksonville at the Marsh Landing Country Club Monday and Tuesday.
The tournament will be the final tune-up prior to the A-Sun Championships April 9-11 at Venetian Bay Golf Club in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
The Marsh Landing Invitational is a 54-hole tournament with 36 holes played on Monday and 18 on Tuesday. The course plays at 5,966 yards and is a par-72 layout. Joining Upstate and tournament host Jacksonville in the 11-team field is Brown, Cal Poly, Cincinnati, Daytona State, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, Lipscomb, Northern Illinois and Stetson. The A-Sun will be well represented in the tournament with Upstate, Jacksonville, Florida Gulf Coast, Lipsomcb and Stetson playing in the event just a week prior to the start of the conference tournament.
Upstate head coach Todd Lawton will send the lineup of Amanda Hall, Taylor Pleier, Brittany Lowe, Marissa Clontz and Kristi Goodman into action this week. The team averages 326.3 per round, the fourth-best scoring average in the history of the program.
Hall, Pleier and Lowe have played in every tournament this season and have led the team throughout the season in stroke average. Hall tops the team with an 81.1 stroke average and a .524 winning percentage head-to-head against the tournament players. Pleier ranks second on the team with an 81.7 stroke average. Lowe is third with an 82.6 stroke average. Clontz will be making her second start in the lineup this season. She finished as the second-lowest Spartan in last week's Low Country Intercollegiate and looks to build on her improving play. Goodman will join fellow freshman Lowe in the lineup. Goodman is making her sixth start this year.
Upstate is coming off a 13th-place finish at the Low Country Intercollegiate. Hall led the Spartans in the tournament, finishing tied for 37th.
Spartans Battling for Stroke Average Mark
With two tournaments yet to be played, the 2011-12 Spartans are battling for one of the top stroke averages in program history. The program launched in 2005-06 and this year's team owns the fourth-best mark in school history at 326.3. The average is the best since the 2008-09 team turned in a 322.3 mark. It also trails the 323.2 average from 2006-07 and 323.9 in 2007-08. This year's team average is better than those recorded in 2005-06, 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Clontz Makes Immediate Impact
Marissa Clontz made her first appearance of the season playing as an individual at the Spider Invitational at St. James Plantation. She finished ahead of two Spartans playing in the team lineup. She battled her way into the starting lineup and made her first appearance in the lineup last week at the Low Country Intercollegiate. Her impact was felt immediately. She posted rounds of 81 and 83 to finish as the second-lowest Spartan in the tournament.
Stroke Averages Improving
One factor in Upstate turning in the program's fourth-best stroke average in the history of the program this season is the improvement in many of the players on the team. Amanda Hall has lowered her stroke average by 0.4 strokes from last season. Taylor Pleier has shown a 2.2 stroke per round improvement. Marissa Clontz has shown a 1.5 improvement on her scoring average. Those figures, along with the steady progression from freshmen Brittany Lowe and Kristi Goodman, have the Spartans primed for improvement as they build toward the A-Sun Championships and next season.
Looking to Go Low
Through 17 rounds this year, Upstate has broken the 310 barrier just two times. Both rounds came in the Great Smokies Intercollegiate. The first was when the Spartans broke the single-round school record with a 297. They also turned in a 307 in the tournament. However, that is the only time the Spartans have broken 310 this season. Upstate does have four other rounds below 320.
Another Record Falls
In Upstate's second tournament of the fall, the unit teamed to break the single-round school record by shooting a 297 in the first round of the Great Smokies Intercollegiate. Taylor Pleier, Amanda Hall and Brittany Lowe each shot 74 en route to the record. The round was two shots better than the previous record of 299 shot at the Great Smokies in 2008.