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The fourth-ranked Auburn women's golf team will compete in the NCAA East Region May 11-13 at the Bryan Park Golf Club for the right to advance to the NCAA Championship.
The Tigers will be competing in the three-day event at the par 72, 6,386-yard Champions Course in Browns Summit, N.C. Auburn, which won the NCAA Central Region in 2005, will enter as the No. 2 seed behind top-seeded and No. 3-ranked Arizona State.
"We are approaching this no different than we would any other tournament," head coach Kim Evans
said. "When we prepare, we ready for regionals exactly how we have all season. We have won five tournaments this season and so we are going for six."
In the latest Golfweek
rankings, senior Maria Martinez
, who was named the SEC Golfer of the Year, is ranked second in the country with a season stroke average of 71.33.
The top eight of the 21 teams competing in the East Region will advance to the NCAA Championship held at the Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio. They will join the top eight teams from both the Central and West Regions, to be held in Bryan, Texas, and Auburn, Wash., respectively.
1. Maria Martinez Sr. Maracaibo, Venezuela (Master Salvatoris)
2. Nicole Hage Jr. Coral Springs, Fla. (Coral Springs Christian)
3. Margaret Shirley So. Roswell, Ga. (Lassiter)
4. Abigale Schepperle So. Birmingham, Ala. (Hoover)
5. Jessica Lovell Jr. Birmingham, Ala. (Hoover)
Fourth-ranked Auburn joins No. 3 Arizona State, No. 9 Tennessee, No. 13 Wake Forest, No. 11 California, No. 14 Vanderbilt, No. 18 Virginia, No. 26 South Carolina, No. 30 LSU, Florida State, Alabama, N.C. State, Augusta State, Maryland, Furman, North Carolina, Mississippi State, Campbell, College of Charleston, East Carolina and Yale in the East Region. Adrienne White of Louisville, Christina Jones of South Florida and Michelle Jarman of UNC Wilmington round out the individuals. Live scoring can be found on www.golfstat.com and daily updates can be found on www.auburntigers.cstv.com.
The Bryan Park Golf Club, Champions Course, at Browns Summit, N.C., is a par 72, 6,386-yard course, which opened in 1990.
Auburn at the NCAA Regional
In its 13th trip to the NCAA Regional, the Tigers have made 12 of those to the East. The only appearance out of the East Region was last season when Auburn won the Central Region in Lubbock, Texas. Then-senior Diana Ramage also claimed medalist honors in 2005. The Tigers have also advanced out the region in nine of the last 10 years.
Auburn crushed the competition at the Lady Buckeye Invitational, defeating the field by 27 strokes. Maria Martinez also earned medalist honors at the tournament, finishing with a 9-under in three rounds. Junior Nicole Hage finished right behind Martinez in second with an 8-under. Auburn's three-round total of 849 demolished the school record of 864, previously set at the 2002 SEC Championship. The tournament win for Auburn was the fifth of the season, tying the 2000 and 2001 seasons for most tournament wins in a year.
Quoting Head Coach Kim Evans
"We had a pretty good exam period and now everyone is focused and ready to go. We are approaching this no different than we would any other tournament. When we prepare, we ready for regionals exactly how we have all season. We have won five tournaments this season and so we are going for six, which is a school record."
Tigers in the Polls
In the latest Golfweek rankings, the Tigers are ranked No. 4 as a team. Also ranked by the magazine is Senior Maria Martinez, who is currently sitting as the No. 2 golfer in the NCAA. Martinez is followed by Nicole Hage, ranked No. 26, Margaret Shirley in 49th, Jessica Lovell in 100th and Abigale Schepperle sits in 106th.
Auburn At The NCAA Regional
Team Best Finish 1st (2005)
Team Low Final Score 867 (2003)
Team Low Round 278 (2003) -- 3rd rd.
Individual Top Finish Diana Ramage (1st, 2005)
Individual Low Score Celeste Troche (211, 2002)
Individual Low Round Maria Martinez (66, 2003) -- 3rd rd.
AU 2005 NCAA Regional Results
NCAA Region 294-309-293--896 (1st)
Diana Ramage 68-77-67--212 (1st)
Nicole Hage 74-75-75--224 (t-6th)
Margaret Shirley 74-79-76--229 (t-31st)
Maria Martinez 78-78-75--231 (t-42nd)
Jessica Lovell 78-85-80--243 (t-94th)
Defending the Title
Auburn successfully defended its SEC title April 16 at the Vanderbilt Legends Club by defeating Tennessee by one stroke. The Tigers defeated Georgia in a playoff in 2005 for the title, giving Auburn the four closest SEC Championship titles in league history. Senior Maria Martinez also won medalist honors for Auburn, finishing at 5-under for the tournament.
Martinez Best In The SEC
Senior Maria Martinez not only claimed SEC Golfer of the Year honors, but the individual title at the SEC Tournament as well. Martinez shot a 5-under 211, which was the lowest SEC Championship score for an Auburn player in the school's history. Martinez became the fifth Auburn player to win medalist honors and the first since Danielle Downey in 2000.
When the tournament is on the line, Auburn is happy to have Maria Martinez on its side. The senior has now won three SEC Championships and has sunk a putt to win all three for the team. In 2003, 2005 and 2006, Martinez's birdie putt won the SEC title for the Tigers including a playoff vs. Georgia in 2005 and a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole in the 2006 Championship to defeat Tennessee by one stroke.
SEC Golfer of the Week
Senior Maria Martinez was named the SEC Golfer of the Week on March 15 for her win at the Lady Gamecock Classic March 10-12 in Blythewood, S.C. Martinez shot a 5-under for the three days and claimed the title by five strokes. Martinez also helped lead Auburn to an 18-stroke win at the tournament.
Junior Nicole Hage was named the SEC Golfer of the Week by the league office on March 9. Hage helped lead the Tigers to their second tournament victory of the season while finishing third individually. She made a dramatic jump from 26th to fourth from round one to two and recorded her lowest round of the season with a 68 in round three.
In The Top Five
Auburn has now had 13 consecutive top five finishes in tournaments including all of this season and the SEC Championship (1st), the NCAA Regional (1st) and the NCAA Championship (3rd) from last season. In one of the last 21 tournaments the Tigers have participated in, they have finished out of the top five, a seventh place finish in the Bryan National Collegiate April 1-3, 2005.
Despite the fact the 2005-06 Auburn team has not had high expectations placed on it, the Tigers have shown improvement from last season including shaving three strokes from its average score. This season, Auburn is averaging a team score of 293.40, down from 296.44 in 2004-05. Also, the Tigers will need to maintain their pace down the stretch to make Auburn history as the record sits at 294.40, from the 2001-02 season.
Senior Maria Martinez received a sponsor's exemption for the Kraft Nabisco Championship March 30-April 2 in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Martinez made the cut for the event and finished in a tie for 62nd, carding a 16-over 74-73-77-80--304 in the four-day LPGA tournament as an amateur.
Down the Stretch
The Tigers struggled with consistency in their first tournament of the season, but improved at the Mason Rudolph Championship. From the first round (307) of the Cougar Classic to the second round (285), Auburn shaved off 22 strokes and then added seven from the second round to the third round (292). In the Mason Rudolph, however, Auburn shot a 291 in the first round, a 298 in the second and a 300 in the third for a difference of just nine strokes.
Way To Rebound!
After a dismal start to the Cougar Classic, where the Tigers shot a 19-over first round, they rebounded in a big way. On the same day of competition, but in the second round, Auburn fought back to a 3-under performance for a 22-shot difference. Margaret Shirley had the largest individual improvement as she shot an 11-over 83 in the first round and came back to card a 1-under 71 in the second 18 holes, just hours later.
Maria's "Summer Vacation"
Senior Maria Martinez had an exciting summer as she advanced to the finals of the U.S. Amateur tournament the first week in August. Her father caddied for her and her brother and mother all came in from Venezuela to show their support. Martinez dominated the field up until the finals, where she fell 9-and-8 in the 36-hole final to winner Morgan Pressel in Roswell, Ga.
New on the Plains
Auburn welcomes two newcomers to the program including Mariana Macias, a freshman from Madrid, Spain, and Marisa Milligan, a freshman from Normal, Ill.