No. 6 Women's Golf Looks Ahead To SEC Tournament
April 16, 2009
AUBURN - With the regular season complete, the No. 6 Auburn women's golf team looks to the next step this weekend as the Tigers travel to Blythewood, S.C., for the 2009 Southeastern Conference Women's Golf Tournament. The 54-hole tournament will take place at the University Club at Cobblestone Park and will run April 17-19.
"It is hard to believe it is the end of the year. We have been preparing for this all year, it is not just something you prepare for in a few days, it is something we prepare for all year. I think the kids are anxious to get there and get this under way."
The Tigers enter the tournament on a hot streak, winning three of their last four tournaments. Auburn will be looking for its seventh SEC title over all and the first since winning it in 2006.
Leading the Auburn attack is the junior-sophomore combination of Candace Schepperle and Cydney Clanton. Schepperle enters the tournament with the best stroke average in the conference, 71.92 per round, and is the No. 2 rated player in the nation. Clanton, last year's SEC and National Freshman of the Year, comes in ranked ninth in the conference in stroke average and is the No. 34 rated player in the country.
The pair make up Auburn's best shot at an individual title, a feat accomplished by only five Tigers ever. The last to win the SEC individual crown was Maria Martinez in 2006. Schepperle finished tied for seventh in the tournament last year, following a T25th-place showing as a sophomore. Clanton finished 29th last year as a freshman.
With Schepperle and Clanton combining with Auburn's lone senior, Mariana Macias, Evans sees a solid core of leadership that she hopes will help her team through the tournament.
"All of our girls that have played have had a strong role in the leadership of the team. Mariana has hung in there tough and Candace has done a great job all season as a leader," said Evans. "Cydney kind of has a natural leadership about her, so I know that we have three strong leaders out on the golf course. You have to think that your leaders are saying the right things at the right times, staying focused and staying patient."
Rounding out the lineup are the freshman pair of Haley Wilson and Patricia Sanz. Wilson will be playing in just her fifth tournament as a Tiger at the SEC Championship as she graduated from high school early and joined the team in January.
Wilson currently ranks third on the team with a 75.40 stroke average, followed by Sanz in fourth with a 76.50. According to Evans, the biggest impact the freshman have had on the team is contributing to its overall depth.
"Haley Wilson has added that depth that we were lacking, I could not be more proud of her with the way she has stepped right in to college golf and played as well as she has," said Evans. "Patricia has grown so much since the fall. She has really worked hard and caught on to the college game. I could not be happier with the freshmen."
The Auburn squad of Schepperle, Clanton, Wilson, Sanz and Macias will head into a tough SEC field made up of 11 of the top 50 teams in the country, including six in the top 25. Auburn, however, is considered the favorite as it is at the top of that list, ranked sixth in the nation.
The Tigers are coming off a fourth-place showing at the SEC Tournament last season, finishing 36 strokes behind champion Florida. This will be the second time for South Carolina to host the tournament at its University Club with the first time coming in 1997. Auburn finished fifth that season with Georgia taking the title.
At par-71 and 6,204 yards, Evans said the ability to hit your targets will be key in playing the course well.
"There will be some real fast greens, it has some hills to it. The course is set up with a couple of par-5s that will be reachable," said Evans. "Some of the holes are pretty tough, very target-oriented, but I think it will be a lot of fun to play. With a course like this, you have to be very disciplined and have a good game plan."
As far as any keys to winning, Evans said she is confident in her team and they just need to go out and execute their game plan.
"We just have to go out and play golf, take it one day at a time and execute our game plan around the golf course," said Evans. "You can't think about winning or what you have to do to win, you just have to stay real disciplined and take care of the things you can control."
Auburn is set to go off in the first wave of tee times with South Carolina and LSU at 7:30 a.m. CT. Fans can follow the tournament with live scoring at www.GolfStat.com.
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