Georgia was No. 4 in the initial edition of the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index released last week but slipped No. 5 after Southern Cal moved into the top spot following a season-opening victory.
The Bulldogs are one of five top-10 and eight top-20 teams amond the 15 schools in the field, joining No. 1 Southern Cal, No. 3 Arizona, No. 6 Northwestern, No. 8 Purdue, No. 19 Florida, No. 13 Iowa State and No. 20 Oklahoma State. Rounding out the competing schools will be Arizona State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Tulane, UC-Davis, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
Georgia finished first, second and third in its first three events of the year between Sept. 8-20 and covered those tournaments’ eight rounds at 10-under as a team.
“We needed a break after our busy start to the season,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “Now you hope you didn’t lost any of that positive momentum we had for the first couple weeks. We’re excited to get back out there and compete against what is probably the strongest field of the year so far. We’ll just go out and battle the golf course and battle the elements. Hopefully on Tuesday afternoon when we get to the last nine holes, we’ll have another chance to win a golf tournament.”
The event will provide familiar course conditions for freshman Jillian Hollis, a native of Rocky River, Ohio.
“I’m excited to go up there because the greens and the rough are what I’ve grown up on,” Hollis said. “It’s going to be nice to get back to bent fairways and bent greens. The weather will be the same as it is in Ohio so I’ll be prepared for the weather for sure. I know it has only been two weeks, but I’ve missed playing in tournaments. Tournament golf is so fun. It’s so fun to be with the team and play for the University of Georgia. It’s good to go out and just play, but it’s not tournament golf. I love the pressure of tournament golf.”
Junior Harang Lee has been Georgia’s top individual this fall and was a combined 5-under during the first three tournaments.
“It’s nice to get back out there and play tournaments because that’s the most fun part of golf,” Lee said. “Since I’ve been here for two years, I think I’ve learned from my mistakes. I guess I’m more calm right now. We’ve moved up lot of positions from last year, but our goal is to be ranked No. 1. We have work to do, but I think we have the talent to do it.”
The Bulldogs’ playing five will again include freshmen Rinko Mitsunaga and Bailey Tardy. Sophomore Isabella Skinner will join the lineup in Chicago.
“Bella worked hard this summer and has worked hard this fall,” Brewer said. “It’s nice to see her be rewarded with a chance to step up and help her team. Since I’ve been here, I’ve preached competition. She’s earned a spot in the lineup and has a chance to keep a spot in the lineup by playing well this week.”
Skinner played in seven tournaments last season but failed to qualify for the first three events this fall.
“It was very tough,” Skinner said. “Our team obviously is deep this year. We have a lot of talent. Coach Brewer and I talked about the fact that the scores I shot would have easily qualified last year and probably the year before that and the year before that. That’s what’s so exciting about our team this year, and that’s why we’re ranked fourth. That’s how good we are. I think it pushed me in ways that I haven’t been pushed before. When my opportunity came to qualify, I was able to perform and capture it. I’m excited to go show what I’ve been working on and contribute to what we’re doing as a team. Our goal is to win. Hopefully, that will help us move up closer to No. 1 and eventually we’ll be No. 1 in the nation.”