Sunday February 10, 2013Gators Head West for Tough Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge
Palos Verdes, Calif.
Palos Verdes, Calif.
To see the Gators tournament notes for the Northrop Grumman Regional CLICK HERE.
Looking for its fourth team title of the 2012-13 season, the third-ranked University of Florida women’s golf team will be back on the course starting tomorrow as it will begin play of the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, one of its toughest events of the year.
The challenge will be played at the Palos Verdes Golf Club (Par 71, 6,017 yards) and will feature 16 teams in its field, 10 of which are currently ranked in the latest WGCA/Coaches’ Poll including top-ranked USC and No. 2 Duke. Play will last over three days, 18 holes for each day.
As the Gators head to the west coast, they will try to continue one of the greatest stretches in recent history for the team, looking for a fourth team title and a possible sixth straight individual title. UF is coming off a nine-stroke victory at the Florida Challenge in late January and also brought back the individual honors as sophomore Camilla Hedberg (Sitges, Spain) was named co-champion, her third medalist honor of the season.
With her third win of the year and her career, Hedberg joins only 11 other Gators to ever win three or more tournaments in their entire careers.
The three team titles for the Orange and Blue hasn’t happened since the 2007-08 season, which was also the last time Florida won the SEC Championship. For head coach Emily Bastel, it’s good to get the team playing in another region of the country as the season goes deeper.
“It’s good to tee it up at these smaller events before we compete in the bigger tournaments,” Bastel said. “This tournament out west has been going on for some time. It’ll be another outstanding field for us and a good chance for us to see some of the west coast teams and play on their home turf. It’s good to play in another region of the country. I think the win at the Florida Challenge got everyone excited to go tee it up again.”
With all the individual wins Florida has had this year, Bastel says it’s good to see her team’s hard work pay off.
“We try to celebrate those individual victories and then button up for the next one,” Bastel said. “We don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves. Each tournament that we tee it up in, we’ve got to go prove ourselves. It’s just the way this game works. We try to use it in other ways by finding out better ways to practice and using it from a confidence standpoint.”
Last time out at the Florida Challenge, it wasn’t just Hedberg that brought the good play, junior Elcin Ulu (Istanbul, Turkey) brought her A-game in the first round and fired a 69 to shoot up the leaderboard before the second set of 18. The 69 is Ulu’s lowest of her college career and was a confidence booster for the transfer as she will be part of the rotation this week in California.
“We played great as a team,” Ulu said. “For me, it was much better than last semester and took away a few of the nerves I had. With the way the team is playing right now with all of its individual winners, it’s awesome. It’s great to be a Florida Gator. We’re working on a lot of short game because that’s the most important thing in golf. Just putting, chipping and pitching every single day.”
Hedberg and Ulu will be the top two players in the rotation for the Gators this week. Mia Piccio (Baccolod City, Philippines) will be in the three-spot as she makes her fifth start of the year. Piccio is coming off the first individual win of her college career at the Lady Bulldog Individual Championship. The senior carded a one-round 69, two shots better than the second-place finisher. Since it was an individual event, Piccio’s scores do not count towards her overall total, but the performance was her best this season.
Senior Isabelle Lendl (Goshen, Conn.) will also be making the trip out west as she will be playing in her sixth straight tournament of the year. Only Lendl and Hedberg have played in all six tournaments this season.
Like her teammate in Hedberg, Lendl has had a busy year so far as well, winning two tournaments (Dale McNamara, Tar Heel Invite) and also being ranked as the No. 1 player in the nation according to GolfStat.com. Lendl’s average of 70.67 was good for the top-spot before the Florida Challenge, but the rankings have not been updated since the spring season began. The senior currently has a 71.2 stroke average, good for second on the team and finished tied for 10th at the Florida Challenge after rounds of 76 and 73.
Finally, sophomore Anna Young (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada) will fill out the lineup as she will be appearing in her fifth tournament this year. Young is coming off her best outing of the season, a tie for 18th finish at the Florida Challenge after rounds of 74-81-155 (+11) as an individual. Her first round 74 was also her lowest of the season as she was able to drop her stroke average to 78.1, good for sixth on the team.
Play runs for the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge Monday through Wednesday and live scoring will be available on GolfStat.com.
A full recap with complete results can be found on GatorZone.com following each day’s play.