The Georgia women’s golf team will host the nation’s top-seven women’s golf teams – and many of the premier golfers in the country – this weekend for the 44th annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic. The tournament will begin on Friday morning, with a scheduled shotgun start at 8:30 a.m., and continue through Sunday. No admission will be charged to attend.
The Liz Murphey will emulate the format utilized for the NCAA Championships in May, with a combination of stroke play and match play to determine a champion. Results from a single round of stroke play on Friday will seed teams for two days of match play competition on Saturday and Sunday. The top-eight teams will be placed in the “Red” bracket while the remaining squads will compete in a round-robin “Black” bracket.
The teams ranked No. 1-7 in both the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, and the Golfstat rankings are included in the 12-team field. Currently, Duke and Southern Cal are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in both polls. The remaining top-seven teams include Georgia, which is listed at No. 6 in Golfweek and No. 7 in Golfstat, Alabama, Arkansas, Northwestern and UCLA.
“It’s unbelievable,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “You ask people to come and compete a year in advance and you know they’re going to be good. You don’t know they were going to be 1-7 in the nation. It makes a statement about this golf course and what Coach Murphey built here. People want to come play in this event. We have West Coast schools who normally wouldn’t fly East, but they understand the importance of playing a championship golf course and the chance to play match play.”
No. 14 Kent State, Auburn, Denver, Oregon State and Purdue round out the competing teams.
Individually, 21 golfers among the top-50 in either the Golfweek and/or Golfstat rankings will compete in the Liz Murphey. That includes a trio of Bulldogs. Freshman Bailey Tardy is ranked No. 5 by Golfstat and No. 12 by Golfweek while junior Harang Lee is No. 7 in the Golfweek ledger and No. 14 in Golfstat. Freshman Jillian Hollis is No. 20 in the Golfweek poll.
The Bulldogs’ lineup will consist of Hollis, Tardy, Lee, freshman Rinko Mitsunaga and sophomoreIsabella Skinner.
“I’m very excited,” Tardy said. “I played on my course (Atlanta Athletic Club) in our first tournament of the fall. I think that now that I’ve played the UGA Course enough that I can call this my home course as well. You know where to hit it. You know where not to hit it. I think we can really use that knowledge to succeed on the golf course this weekend.”
Mitsunaga captured her first collegiate victory at the UGA Golf Course earlier this season when she won the Lady Bulldog Individual Championship in February.
“I really like this golf course,” Mitsunaga said. “I think it fits my game well. I’m excited for the team because I think we’re all playing good right now. This will be a really good practice for the future because every single tournament from now on is going to have great teams. It’s also the same format as NCAA, so I think that will be good practice for us.”
Skinner is making her first appearance in the Bulldogs’ lineup since last fall. Last October, she helped Georgia to a share of the team title at the Windy City Collegiate and also was in the playing five for the Stanford Intercollegiate. Skinner competed as an individual at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic in February.
“I’m very excited, especially since it’s our home event,” Skinner said. “Last year, I didn’t get to play in the Liz Murphey, so it’s my first year playing. Obviously, it’s a great event with so many of the top teams. The course is looking good. The conditions are supposed to be nice except for maybe Friday. We all think this event is basically what NCAAs are going to look like. A lot of the teams here are highly ranked, and it will be a very good preview for what’s to come. I like match play, so I’m looking forward to have the chance to play that format.”
Tournament namesake Liz Murphey was Georgia’s former women’s golf coach and Senior Woman Administrator from the implementation of Title IX through the mid-90s. Murphey’s fingerprints remain a vital part of Georgia Athletics as she helped hire current coaches, Jack Bauerle, and Jeff Wallace. All told, coaches Murphey helped hire have led UGA to 19 NCAA Championships – including the latest title by swimming and diving just two weeks ago – and 44 SEC Championships.
“You could argue that it’s the most important regular-season event in our sport,” Brewer said. “Without Coach Murphey, where would we stand in women’s athletics, not only in women’s golf but in women’s athletics? You try to explain the history and why it’s named after her. Some times even if you’ve done something really special, the person can get forgotten and after a while it’s just a name. We try to make sure our players and everyone who is competing here this weekend understands we’re fortunate to have had Coach Murphey. “
Live scoring will be available throughout the tournament at www.birdiefire.com.