April 6, 2012

Spartans Open Play in A-Sun Championships Monday

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Spartanburg, S.C. - The USC Upstate women's golf team will travel to Florida for the fourth time this season and the second time in the last week to take part in the 2012 A-Sun Women's Golf Championships Monday-Wednesday.

The A-Sun Championships are being played at the Venetian Bay Golf Club in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., for the second-straight year. The course is a par-72 layout and plays at 6,007 yards. The front nine plays through the wooden portion of the property, while the back nine has fewer trees and more parallel fairways, giving it a links look. The course has 114 bunkers.

Upstate is one of nine schools vying for the conference championship. Joining the Spartans in the tournament is Belmont, ETSU, Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, Mercer and Stetson. Stetson is the defending champion and returns every player from its championship team a year ago, including defending individual medalist, Alex Buelow.

Upstate head coach Todd Lawton will send the lineup of Amanda Hall, Brittany Lowe, Taylor Pleier, Marissa Clontz and Kristi Goodman into action for the A-Sun Championships. The lineup shot two rounds under 320 in last week's Marsh Landing Invitational in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and will look to build on its performance.

Hall leads the Spartans on the year. She owns a team-best 80.7 stroke average and was simply solid last week at the Marsh Landing Invitational. She finished tied for 22nd and shot two rounds in the 70's, including a 73 in the final round. Pleier ranks second on the team with an 81.6 stroke average and has played well of late. Lowe is a freshman who will play in her first A-Sun Championship. She ranks third on the team with an 82.2 stroke average and has turned in some solid scores throughout the year.

Clontz has provided a spark for the Spartans late in the season. She was inserted into the lineup for the last two tournaments and finished as the second-lowest Spartan in the Low Country Intercollegiate and in the four spot in the Marsh Landing Invitational.

Hall Peaking at the Right Time?
The leader on the course for the Spartans, sophomore Amanda Hall may just be peaking at the right time as Upstate prepares for the A-Sun Championships. Hall opened the Marsh Landing Invitational with a 77 and after a disappointing second round, came back with a strong round of 73 to close out the tournament. The round was the second-lowest on the day in the entire tournament field and the best round turned in by players who's scores counted in the team totals.

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 325.8. 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.

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 six other rounds below 320, including the first and third at the Marsh Landing Invitational last week.

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.

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