Jan 18, 2019
The spring season is just weeks away and the Oglethorpe women's golf team is anxiously awaiting the start of the 2019 campaign. The team is looking forward to welcoming back to the rotation junior Ana Garcia from Marietta, Georgia, and senior Katie Hanley from Miami. Ana appeared in one of the four fall tournaments before an injury sidelined her for the fall. Hanley, a senior co-captain, missed the entire fall.
"It will be nice to have two of our veterans back in the mix," Oglethorpe assistant golf coach Eric Quinn explained. "We were playing with a little less experience than we were expecting." Both Garcia, in 2018, and Hanley, in 2017, earned All-SAA first team honors.
One question mark for the spring will be the recovery of sophomore Angel Sanchez from surgery during the winter break. Sanchez finished the fall season with one of the lowest fall scoring averages (77.56) in school history. In four starts she had three top 15 finishes or better, including a win at the Chick-fil-A Collegiate Invitational in Rome, Georgia, with scores of 73-77=150. She is currently ranked 14th in the region and the 61st-best player in Division III.
Senior Hailey Willman will be counted on again to lead the Stormy Petrels this spring. Willman totaled two top 10 finishes in the fall, including 10th at the Golfweek Division III Fall Invitational in Miramar Beach, Florida, and a third-place finish with rounds of 77-75=152 at the Chick-fil-A invitational. Her 78.67 scoring average has her ranked as the 10th-best player in the region and No. 60 in the nation.
Junior Mara Tiger is coming off a strong fall campaign, earning a spot as the 29th-best player in the region and No. 111 overall. Mara posted three top 25 finishes with a best of fourth at the Chick-fil-A.
Sophomore Alivia Mattiace will be counted on to continue her good play, which has her averaging 82.4 and has earned her the No. 41 spot in the Golfstat regional rankings.
Sophomore Emma Meadows, and freshmen Graci Hallenbeck and Jazmyne Everett will be expected to contribute this spring.
The women's team is poised to break inside the top 20 this spring if the three key players return healthy from injury.
"We had our best ranking ever after the fall season of fifth in the region, and we finished top 6 in all four fall tournaments with a best finish of second at Berry," said Oglethorpe Director of Golf Jim Owen. "If we are healthy, we will be a contender in April at the SAA Tournament."
The Petrels open the spring season March 1-2 playing a new venue on the Mountain View course at Callaway Gardens.
"It's a former PGA Tour course and should be an excellent test for the team," said Quinn.
Two weeks later Oglethorpe hosts the Jekyll Island Collegiate Invitational on Jekyll Island, Georgia, a 54-hole invitational featuring a national field of 24 teams. Jekyll historically begins the march towards the NCAA Division III Championship.
Birmingham-Southern unveils a new course for the spring schedule, Bentbrook Golf Club just outside of Birmingham, April 12-14.
"It will be a first-time venue for us and a 36-hole event in Birmingham. Bentbrook has hosted many Birmingham amateur events over the years," added Quinn.
April will end with the all-important SAA Championship, held again at Greystone Golf Club in Dickson, Tennessee. The winner of the SAA earns the automatic qualifying bid to this year's NCAA Division III Women's Golf Championship in Houston at Bay Oaks Country Club May 5-10.
The SAA is as strong as ever, led by No. 5 Rhodes and No. 15 Berry. That's followed by Oglethorpe, Birmingham-Southern and Sewanee, all of whome are currently in the top 35.
"We want to take one more step this year," commented Owen. "Last year we were right there and eventually settled for a second place finish at the SAA. If everyone returns healthy from their offseason rehab we can capture our first SAA title."