The No. 9-ranked Georgia women’s golf team will begin the stretch run of its regular-season campaign this weekend when the Bulldogs take part in the Bryan National Collegiate in Browns Summit, N.C., on Friday-Sunday.
The Bulldogs will play their final regular-season event next weekend when they host the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic.
“We’ve worked all year to try to get ready for SECs and NCAAs, and we’ve got two tournaments left before postseason,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “It’s time to get the lineup solidified and start playing our best golf of the year.”
Georgia’s lineup this weekend will consist of Jillian Hollis, Bailey Tardy, Harang Lee, Gabriela Coello and Mary Ellen Shuman. Rinko Mitsunaga, who has competed in every tournament to date this season, will not play due to slight soreness in her back.
“Rinko could play if we really needed her to, but we’re riding five and a half hours to North Carolina in vans because the university plane is under maintenance,” Brewer said. “We’re just being cautious to make sure she’s healthy for the rest of the year.”
Coello played in two of four fall events but will be making her spring debut. Shuman has played in all six events, including once as an individual. She shot 75 or better in six of 10 fall rounds but has done so only once in six spring loops.
“I’m excited to have Gaby back out there,” Brewer said. “Mary Ellen keeps playing great at home (in qualifying). We need that to start to translate into how she played last fall at the Annika and Stanford. With Rinko being out of the lineup this week, it gives someone a great opportunity to take that 5 spot and help us become the best team in the country.
“They know that they control their own destiny in that regard,” Brewer added. “Give us two of three really good scores and you could see yourself play at the Liz Murphey. Play well there and someone has a chance to punch their ticket all the way through to the NCAA Championships. All you want as an athlete is a chance, and they have that.”
Hollis was Georgia’s top finisher at the last stroke play tournament, tying for ninth at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate.
“I’m really not thinking about scores right now but just trying to have fun and focus on one shot at a time,” Hollis said. “I’m just trying to hit good shots and make putts.”
Tardy posted a 3-0 record at the Gifford Great 8 Match Play, the Bulldogs’ last event.
“Obviously, you try not to stress yourself out with three tournaments in the next four weeks along with finals coming up,” Tardy said. “I’m trying to stay on sort of a flat line – not get super excited if I play well or super down if I play bad. We’ve got four weeks of golf ahead of us, and I just think we need to stay calm and keep our composure.”
UNC Greensboro and Wake Forest will co-host the 18-team event at the Bryan Park Champions Course. There are seven top-25 teams in the field – No. 3 Alabama, the No. 9 Bulldogs, No. 11 South Carolina, the No. 12 Demon Deacons, No. 15 Miami, No. 20 Baylor and No. 22 UCF. Rounding out the competing teams are Charleston, Colorado State, Georgetown, Michigan, North Carolina, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Oregon, Penn State and Virginia.
The Bryan National began in 1998 and was once a regular stop on Georgia’s spring schedule. The Bulldogs competed in the event eight times between 1998-2009 but have done so just once since. Georgia captured the team title in 2006 and has produced three individual medalists – Reilley Rankin in 1998, Taylor Leon in 2006 and current volunteer assistant coach Emilie Burger in 2013.
“We’re going to a new tournament,” Tardy said. “I’ve never played this golf course and none of us really know what to expect. We’re all playing pretty solid right now, and we had pretty good qualifying scores. We’re just going to go out there and bond as a team and play well.”