Women's Golf preview: Big 12 Championships
Site: Lincoln, Neb.
Course Stats: The Country Club of Lincoln will play as a par 72 and its length will be 6,158-yards. This marks the first time Nebraska will host the women's championship event.
The Field: The 2006 edition of the Big 12 Women's Golf Championship is headed to Lincoln for the first time in the conference's history. Here is a look at the field:
Last Year's Championships: Graduated seniors Perry Swenson and Lisa Ferrero shared second place at six-over-par and led the 22nd-ranked Texas women's golf team to a runner-up finish at the 2005 Big 12 Championship. Fifth-ranked Oklahoma State took the title with a 36-over-par 900, which was the lowest winning score (54 holes) in the history of the Big 12. Texas, which won the 2004 championship, finished second at 901. Oklahoma State's Annie Thurman-Young earned medalist honors after tying for the lowest individual score in conference history with a four-under-par 212.
Oklahoma State came into the final round with a one-shot lead over the Longhorns. The lead flip-flopped throughout Sunday's action and the Cowgirls took a two-stroke lead with only two groups remaining on the course. Ferrero made a bogey on 17, but came back to drain a 17-foot birdie putt on 18 to keep the deficit at two. Oklahoma State's Karin Sjodin, who was playing in the same group, parred 17, but took a triple-bogey on 18 giving the Longhorns a one-shot lead.
Swenson finished the final round with a two-over-par 74 on her way to a tie for second with Ferrero. She made the turn at three-over-par, but birdied 11 and 12 to help the Longhorns make a charge. Ferrero made the turn at one-under-par after birdies on four and five. She made three bogeys on the back nine, but birdies on 16 and 18 brought her final round total to even par. Kelley Louth and Julia Best finished their first conference tournaments tied for 19th and 27th place, respectively. Louth ended up at 17-over-par, while Best finished at 19-over-par.
Not only did the Longhorns finish second at the conference tournament, but they also clinched the first-ever State Farm Lone Star Showdown after earning a point for finishing higher than Texas A&M. Texas now has 10.5 points, while the Aggies have four points with only 4.5 points remaining.
Golf Club of Lincoln Makes its Big Debut: The Big 12 Women's Golf Championship is scheduled for April 17-19 at the Country Club of Lincoln in Lincoln, Neb. This marks the first time Nebraska will host the women's league event. Oklahoma State, the 2005 Big Championships will try to defend the championship on the par-72, 6,158-yard course.
Texas and Conference Championships: The University of Texas has been one of the more successful women's golf programs in the Big 12 since its beginning in 1997. The Longhorns have won two championships (1997, 2004), have had four second-place finishes including in 2005 and have never finished lower than fourth during the nine-year history of the event. UT had previously dominated the Southwest Conference having won 10 conference titles in 14 years, including a run of five straight from 1987-91.
Andersen's Conference Finale: Senior Devan Andersen enters her third and final Big 12 Championship with the Longhorns second best scoring average at 76.93. She has led the team with top individual team finishes at The Derby Invitational (T-24th) and at the Guadalajara Invitational (T-38th). She tied with junior Julia Best for 32nd place at the PING/ASU Invitational to lead the team as well. She has a season low round of 72 carded in the first round of The Derby Invitational and the third round of the PING/ASU Invitational. Her best finish this year is a tie for 17th at the Susie Maxwell Berning Golf Classic. Her best finish in the Big 12 Championships is 11th-place recorded as both a freshman in 2003 and a sophomore in 2004.
Bulverde's Best: Junior Julia Best is leading the Longhorns with a career best 76. 61 per round average after playing in all of Texas' seven events this season. Best has come on strong in her last three outings, leading UT with top finishes at the Betsy Rawls Invitational (T-7th), PING/ASU Invitational (T-32nd) and the Susie Maxwell Berning Golf Classic (T-6th). She totaled a six-over par 222 at the Susie Maxwell for her best three round total of her career. Last season, she finished in a tie for 26th place in her first trip to the Big 12 Championships.
Another Year in the Line-Up: Sophomore Kelley Louth and Brittany Givilancz both will help solidify the line-up this year at the Big 12 Championships. Last season Louth made her first trip to the conference championships finishing tied for 19th and was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. She is third on the team with a 79.24 per round average this year and tied for 19th at the Susie Maxwell Berning Golf Classic. Givilancz is currently fifth on the team with an 80.08 per round average. Her best finish was a tie for 44th at the Susie Maxwell.
Finding Her Way: In only her first year playing in the college ranks, freshman Caney Hines has begun to establish herself and is finding her place among the Longhorn squad. Hines is currently fourth on the team with a 78.29 per round average and has a team-low round of five-under par 68 shot in the first round of the PING/ASU Invitational tying the second best mark in UT school history. Hines has played all seven of the Texas events this season and marked a career best finish at the Lady Tar Heel Open by tying for 25th.