By Zach Stipe, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
TUCSON, Ariz. — The Tennessee women’s golf team will be looking to carry the momentum of back-to-back victories to close the fall into the spring portion of its schedule when the Lady Vols return to the links at the Wildcat Invitational this Monday and Tuesday.
UT, ranked No. 7 in the Golfstat Head-to-Head Rankings, will start play at the Arizona National Golf Course at 8 a.m. on Monday, as the Lady Vols are scheduled to play two rounds on the first day of the 54-hole tournament. The final round is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m., as well, on Tuesday.
Four of the Big Orange’s top-five core that capped the fall with wins at the Mercedes-Benz Women’s Collegiate Championships and the Alamo Invitational will compete at the ultra-competitive tournament that features 11 of 16 teams ranked in the Golfstat Top-25.
Sophomore Nathalie Mansson captured medalist honors at the Mercedes-Benz and Alamo tournaments to give UT a team and individual sweep at both sites in October. She registered at 71.90 stroke average in four tournaments in the fall and is ranked No. 14 in the Golfstat Cup individual rankings.
Senior Diana Cantú also cracked the Golfstat Top-50 (No. 39) after a stellar fall that saw her card a team-best two rounds in the 60s and a 72.80 average.
The duo will be joined by senior Ginny Brown (73.40 fall average), freshman Sara Monberg (76.30) and junior Lauren Spurlock (76.83).
Freshman Leigh Henderson (76.67) will compete in Arizona as an individual.
Fellow freshman Erica Popson, who collected a 74.20 average and three top-21 finishes in the fall, will sit out the meet because of injury.
“The team is looking great,” Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon said. “We’ve had some good scores during practice. We are looking forward to some nice weather and consistent days of golf in Arizona. Diana has worked really hard and looks good. Nathalie is playing great right now, too. She’s practicing really well. I look for her to pick up right where she left off in the fall.
“We’re excited to play in some nice weather. It’s hard to play after a long break, but their games are suited for this golf course. I really think that we will compete well this week.”
Tennessee, which sported a 54-8 head-to-head mark in the fall, has a chance to win three straight tournaments for the first time ever. With up to nine competitions in the spring, the Lady Vols also have a great shot at tying the UT-record for season victories (three) this season.
This week, the Orange and White will face stiff competition from the likes of No. 2 Auburn, No. 3 Arizona State and No. 4 USC, however.
Live scoring of the 2010 Wildcat Invitational can be found at golfstat.com.