ANDERSON, S.C. – On the heels of an historic year that saw the Trojans earn five tournament victories, including the South Atlantic Conference Championship nearly a month ago, the nationally 20th-ranked Anderson women's golf team is set to compete at the 2019 NCAA Division II Women's Golf South Region Championship for the first time in school history.
The 54-hole tournament will be hosted by Lee University at the Cleveland (Tenn.) Country Club, Monday - Wednesday, on a par 72, 5,957-yard layout.
Joining the Trojans in the Volunteer State for the highly-touted 12-team South Region Championship will be nationally top-ranked Barry, No. 4 Nova Southeastern, Florida Tech (No. 5), eighth-ranked Lynn, No. 11 Limestone, No. 12 Rollins, 13th-ranked Florida Southern, Saint Leo (No. 17), 19th-ranked Tampa, No. 21 Lee and 22nd-ranked Flagler.
Anderson (South Atlantic), Flagler (Peach Belt), Lee (Gulf South), Limestone (Conference Carolinas), and Lynn (Sunshine State) all captured automatic bids after winning their conference titles.
In addition to the dozen teams converging in Cleveland (Tenn.) there are six golfers that qualified individually for the tournament, including four from the SAC. Warissa Paungcharoen (Wingate) is tabbed 16th nationally, while West Georgia's Franziska Bremm is ranked 18th in the country.
Lise Malherbe (Lincoln Memorial) enters the tourney at No. 47 nationally, while Lenoir-Rhyne's Abbey Hartsell checks in at 74th. Maeve Cummins (Carson-Newman) and Solange Gomez (West Florida) at No. 71, round out the field.
The illustrious field includes six of the country's top-10 golfers, beginning with Barry's Tilda Larsson, who is the top-ranked golfer in the nation. Tampa's Kiira Riihijarvi is ranked second by Golfstat, while Seher Atwal of Rollins in fourth. Lynn's Helen Kruezer of Lynn is sixth in the national rankings, while Nova Southeastern's Sophia Garcia Austt and Sophie Madden are ninth and 10th, respectively.
The Trojans will face a daunting task in a year of "firsts," with SAC Coach of the Year Danny Neal's charges looking to carry the momentum from the program's first-ever SAC Championship into next week.
AU opened the year by posting a then-program record, final-round 293 at their Invitational in September and ended up bettering their own school record rounds on two more occasions, including a 287 in the final round of the LeeAnn Noble Memorial, which was hosted by North Georgia in mid-October.
In winning the SAC Championship, the Trojans posted a tournament-record three-round score (907), including a SAC Tournament single-round record 298 during the second round.
Senior Tiffany Elam and junior Kate Hill each equaled the fourth-best three-round totals in tournament history and finished in a tie for fifth place at the conference championship, with sophomore Anna Freeman and freshman Victoria Hall finishing in a tie for 15th place. Freshman Kerington Lamb rounded out the Trojan contingent in a tie for 35th.
In addition to Neal's Coach of the Year honor, the Trojans saw Elam, Hill, Hall and Freeman capture all-conference accolades at the close of the season, while Elam and Hill went on to garner SAC All-Tournament honors, as well.
Elam, who is ranked 73rd nationally, is a two-time all-conference honoree and owns a team-low 75.65 unadjusted stroke average through nine tournaments on the year. She fired her best round of the season with a 3-under-par 69 during the final round of AU's win at North Georgia.
The Alpharetta, Ga., finished in the top-20 in every tournament and claimed seven top-10 finishes, while winning the Coker Invitational. Elam arguably peaked at the right time, as she wrapped up the regular season by pacing the Trojans in each of the last three tournaments.
Hill is ranked 89th in the nation by Golfstat and has earned postseason SAC honors in each of her three collegiate seasons. She is second on the team with a 76.15 unadjusted stroke average through nine tourneys this season. She won the AU Invitational last September and claimed six top-10 finishes throughout 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.
Sophomore Anna Freeman, who was the SAC Freshman of the Year last season, earned Honorable Mention All-SAC accolades after notching a half-dozen top 20 finishes during the regular season and owns a 76.90 unadjusted stroke average heading into the NCAA South Regional. The Aiken, S.C., native led the Trojans at both the LeeAnn Noble Memorial and the Illinois Springfield Island Getaway last October.
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 77.05 unadjusted stroke average through 20 rounds and fired a season-low 72 during the second round at Hilton Head.
Freshman Kerington Lamb, a native of Easley, S.C., posted a 78.65 stroke average during her first year wearing the Black and Gold. She earned five top-20 finishes, including three in the top-10 during the year, while carding a season-low 73 during the second round of the LeeAnn Noble Memorial. Lamb finished fourth at the AU Invitational in September and followed up a month later by sharing eighth place at North Georgia. Her 3-over-par 75 in the opening round of the SAC Tournament placed her in a tie for eighth place and helped keep the Trojans in contention for the title.
The top four teams along with the top four individuals not with a team from each super regional will advance to the finals, with the NCAA Division II National Championships slated for May 14-18 at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The number of participants that qualify for the finals is 96.
Live scoring will be available for all three rounds, with tee times set for 8 a.m. each morning.