ANDERSON, S.C. – Following a year that included four tournament victories, the nationally 22nd-ranked Anderson women's golf team is set to compete at the 2019 South Atlantic Conference Championship.
The 54-hole tournament begins Sunday morning and concludes Tuesday afternoon at the Lake Hickory Country Club, located in Hickory, N.C. The event has produced five different champions over the past six seasons, with defending champion Wingate hoping to become the first repeat title-winner since Newberry won back-to-back conference crowns in 2012 and 2013. The Bulldogs also claimed the title in 2014.
Guided by SAC Coach of the Year, Danny Neal, the Trojans' No. 22 ranking is the highest of five conference teams in Golfstat's top-50 squads nationally.
Paced by Kate Hill's third-place finish, the Trojans equaled their highest finish since joining the league in 2011 by claiming a share of fifth place at last year's SAC Championship, which was hosted by Newberry at The Members Club at Woodcreek.
Hill's third-place finish a year ago marked the highest finish by a Trojan women's golfer at the SAC Championship, with Anna Freeman finishing 25th a year ago. Tiffany Elam claimed a share of 26th place, while Samantha Ellison finished in a tie for 37th place.
The Trojans, who enter the three-day event as the highest-ranked team in the conference, won the AU Invitational, the LeeAnn Noble Memorial, the Illinois Springfield Island Getaway and the Coker Invitational this year and finished no lower than sixth in their other four tourneys.
The Trojans opened the year by posting a then-program record, final-round 293 at their Invitational in September, then bettered that round with a 291 on the second day of the Patsy Rendleman Invitational. AU claimed the LeeAnn Noble Memorial, hosted by North Georgia in mid-October, by notching a school-record 287 in the final round.
In addition to Neal's Coach of the Year honor, the Trojans saw four golfers earn All-Conference honors earlier this week.
Senior Tiffany Elam, a two-time all-conference honoree, owns a team-low 75.76 unadjusted stroke average through eight tournaments on the year and posted her best round of the season with a 3-under-par 69 during the final round of AU's win at North Georgia's LeeAnn Noble Memorial. The Alpharetta, Ga., finished in the top-20 in every tournament and claimed six top-10 finishes, while winning the Coker Invitational. Elam is on a hot streak entering the postseason after finishing the regular season by pacing the Trojans in each of the last three tournaments.
Junior Kate Hill has earned postseason conference accolades in each of her three collegiate seasons and is second on the team with a 76.35 unadjusted stroke average through eight tourneys this season. She won the AU Invitational last September and claimed six top-10 finishes through the year. Hill carded a season-low 68 during the second round of the AU Invitational and followed up four weeks later with a 69 in the final round of the Patsy Rendleman Invitational.
Freshman Victoria Hall notched three top-10 finishes during the season, including back-to-back fourth-place showings at the Illinois Springfield Island Getaway and the Battle at Hilton Head. The Moore, S.C., notched a 77.06 unadjusted stroke average through 17 rounds and fired a season-low 72 during the second round at Hilton Head.
Sophomore Anna Freeman, the reigning SAC Freshman of the Year, garnered Honorable Mention All-SAC accolades earlier this week, after posting six-top 20 finishes during the regular season and owns a 76.88 unadjusted stroke average heading into the SAC Championship. A native of Aiken, S.C., Freeman led the Trojans at both the LeeAnn Noble Memorial and the Illinois Springfield Island Getaway last October.
Carson-Newman, which enters the tournament as the conference's second-highest ranked team at No. 24, is seeking its fourth SAC title and first championship since 2015.
Close behind the Eagles is Wingate, which checks in a No. 25 in the Golfstat rankings, with Lenoir-Rhyne holding the No. 29 spot. The Bears won the 2017 SAC title, which was their first since claiming back-to-back championships in 2003 and 2004. Newberry, a four-time SAC Tournament titleholder, is ranked 50th nationally.
Coker (57th), Catawba (63rd), Lincoln Memorial (66th), Tusculum (67th) and Queens (74th) are also ranked among the nation's top 100 squads.
Teams will compete on a 6,065-yard, par-72 layout.
Live scoring will be available for all three rounds through Birdiefire.com, with tee times set for 8:30 a.m. each morning.