Aug 29, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Eleven seasonal tournaments including five in the fall and six in the spring semester highlight the 2013-14 Western Carolina women's golf schedule unveiled today by head coach, Mallory Hetzel, who is entering her fourth year.
Opening for a second-straight season at the Golfweek Program Challenge in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in early September and making a cross-country trip for the first-time in program history, the schedule culminates with the annual Southern Conference Women's Golf Championship, April 13-15, which will again be held at the Moss Creek Golf Club in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
"Starting with the Golfweek Program Challenge again this season, I feel this is one of our best schedules, especially since I've been here at Western Carolina," said Hetzel. "Several of our tournaments grant us the opportunity to play against teams in which we normally don't have the chance to see. The tournament in California includes 20 teams that we obviously don't see regularly, while the tournament at Central Florida gives us a chance to compete against several top 25 teams."
Coming off an eighth-place finish in the first-ever trip to the Golfweek Program Challenge, WCU's women will compete for both a team and program championship, teaming final scores with the Catamount men's team for an overall champion. The three-round event will be held at the Caledonia Golf & Fish Club in Pawley's Island, S.C., and should provide a solid measuring stick for the squad in its first tournament of the fall.
One week later, WCU returns home to its home course at the Waynesville Inn - Golf Resort & Spa in Waynesville, N.C., for Annual Great Smokies Intercollegiate. A combined 13 teams including three previous event champions will vie for the tournament championship in the 15th year of the event.
Last season, led by freshman individual medalist Taylor Allison, WCU finished in the runner-up spot as the 36-hole event was condense to one day of competition due to inclement weather. It was the 10th time in the 14 previous events that WCU had placed among the top two finishers, and the second-straight season a Catamount rookie had secured medalist honors with Allison joining 2011 champion, Sofie Kvarnstrom.
"Hosting the Great Smokies Intercollegiate for a 15th-straight year as a program is a milestone for WCU women's golf. This is an on-going tradition which dates back to 1999 - and is one many teams circle on their calendars," said Hetzel. "This year's 13-team field will make for great competition both for the individual and team championship. I know Taylor (Allison) is anxious to defend her title from a season ago."
Hetzel added, "The staff at the Waynesville Inn - Golf Resort and Spa do an amazing job in every facet of helping us host this first-class event. From the condition of the course, to the rooms and meals all provided there on-site, the Great Smokies Intercollegiate continues to rank among the top women's tournaments and experiences. You can't beat the view from the course this time of year."
At the end of September, WCU travels to the Starmount Fall Classic, hosted by UNCG at the Starmount Forest Country Club in Greensboro for a 54-hole tournament. It's the fourth-consecutive season for the Catamounts to attend the fellow SoCon-member's tournament with teams playing 36 holes on the first day followed by an 18-hole final round.
The fall portion of WCU's schedule includes a pair of first-time tournaments. On Oct. 12-13, the Catamounts travel to the Classic Club in Palm Desert, Calif., for the Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate, hosted by the Univ. of Wyoming before concluding the semester in Buies Creek, N.C., at the Fighting Camel Classic Oct. 22-22.
WCU's trip to California marks the farthest west a Catamount women's golf team has ever ventured, surpassing the previous trips of Cordova, Ill., in the 2003-04 season and Baton Rouge, La., in the 2007 NCAA East Regional.
Western Carolina opens its spring semester with three-consecutive events in Florida, the first two a month apart. WCU gets back into the swing of things at the UCF Challenge, hosted by the University of Central Florida February 9-11 at the Eagle Creek Golf Course in Orlando. The Catamounts will spend spring break in the Sunshine State for two tournaments. March 10-11, the Catamounts are entered in the University of North Florida Invitational in Jacksonville, Fla., before playing in the Eagle Landing Invitational hosted by James Madison on the same trip, .
The month of March concludes with a trip to Hilton Head Island, S.C., and the Low Country Intercollegiate, hosted by Wofford at the Moss Creek Golf Club. Sophomore Mariah Hopkins finished third as WCU put two amongst the top five individual finishers in a four-stroke team first-place finish.
For a third-consecutive season, the Catamounts travel to the Mimosa Hills Intercollegiate, hosted by Appalachian State, in the final tune-up before the conference finale. WCU finished fifth in the tournament a season ago after winning the event during the 2011-12 season.
Hetzel has nearly a full, new roster entering the 2013-14 season, returning just two starters from last year's squad - sophomores Taylor Allison and Mariah Hopkins. Allison, coming off a strong summer, paced the team in stroke average a season ago at 77.84 while Hopkins averaged 79.00 strokes per round, both with one top five finish as rookies.
The WCU second-year duo is joined by a pair of transfers - Kristin Swindell from Florida Gulf Coast and Kim Mitchell from Sandhills Community College - with a trio of talented freshmen including local product Ashley Thompson (Canton, N.C.), Bethany Galloway (Charlotte, N.C.) and Olivia Landino (Heritage Academy).
Hetzel said, "We have a young team with no upper classmen. But we've got a very hard working and very dedicated group that is hungry to win. We've got a good mixture with two transfers on the roster this season and we feel we are set up for success over the next 3-to-4 years - but still have high expectations for this season."
2013-14 Western Carolina Women's Golf Schedule
Sept. 8-10: Golfweek Program Challenge - Caledonia Golf & Fish Club in Pawley's Island, S.C.
Sept. 16-17: Great Smokies Intercollegiate - Waynesville Inn, Golf Resort & Spa in Waynesville, N.C.
Sept. 30-Oct. 1: Starmount Fall Classic - Starmount Forest Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.
Oct. 12-13: Wyoming Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate - Classic Club in Palm Desert, Calif.
Oct. 21-22: Fighting Camel Classic - Keith Hills Country Club in Buies Creek, N.C.
Feb. 9-11: UCF Challenge - Eagle Creek Country Club in Orlando, Fla.
March 10-11: University of North Florida Invitational - Jacksonville Golf & Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla.
March 14-16: JMU Eagle Landing Invitational - Eagle Landing Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla.
March 23-24: Low Country Intercollegiate - Moss Creek Golf Club in Hilton Head, S.C.
March 31-April 1: Mimosa Hills Intercollegiate - Mimosa Hills Country Club in Morganton, N.C.
April 13-15: 2014 SoCon Women's Golf Championship - Moss Creek Golf Club in Hilton Head, S.C.