TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Coming off a successful regular season, the third-ranked Auburn women's golf team will head to the 2010 Southeastern Conference Women's Golf Tournament in hopes of defending its title. The 54-hole tournament will take place April 16-18 at the NorthRiver Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
"We are ready to get back together as a team," Auburn head coach Kim Evans said. "We are excited to be together, get in the van and get over to Tuscaloosa and play our game."
The Tigers look to defend their SEC title from last season, where the team topped the field with an eight-stroke gap between itself and second-place Arkansas and Alabama. The title was Auburn's first since
2006 and its fifth since 2000. Auburn has won seven SEC Championships in the program's history.
The Tigers enter the tournament after completing a regular season that included two victories and seven top-five finishes.
Auburn's lineup will be Cydney Clanton, Candace Schepperle, Carlie Yadloczky, Haley Wilson and Patricia Sanz. All five Tigers rank among the top-35 in the SEC, a feat only accomplished by Auburn.
Leading the attack for Auburn will be Clanton, who is currently ranked as the No. 1 women's collegiate golfer in the nation in the most recent GolfWeek ratings. The junior also sits atop the SEC individual rankings with a stroke average of 71.47.
Clanton enters the weekend with two individual titles on the season, having won the Hooters Collegiate Match Play Qualifying and the NCAA Fall Preview. The Concord, N.C., native was also named a 2009 GolfWorld Mid-Season All-American and a GolfWorld Honorable Mention Mid-Season Golfer of the Year. In last year's SEC championship, Clanton finished in a tie for fourth after a 71-75-70--216 outing.
Following will be Schepperle, the lone senior on the squad. Holding a
74.05 stroke average, she ranks as the No. 33 women's collegiate golfer and the No. 11 golfer in the SEC. This season, Schepperle has posted four sub-par rounds, three of which have scored in the 60s.
Competing in eight tournaments this season, Clanton and Schepperle combine for 13 top-10 finishes. Their dominant performances this season will be something that the team will look to this weekend.
"Leadership with Candace has always been through her actions and you cannot replace a leader like that," Evans said. "Cydney and Candace have probably been the biggest one-two punch in all of college golf and we are lucky to have them here at Auburn. I am really proud of them."
Following Auburn's top two veterans, freshman Yadloczky will act as the Tigers' No. 3 player. In just her first season of collegiate golf, the Casselberry, Fla., native enters the tournament as the No. 17 women's golfer in the SEC and the No. 88 women's collegiate golfer in the country. She owns a 75.23 stroke average and is coming off her best finish of the year as she finished eighth at the Bryan National Collegiate, leading the team.
Behind Yadloczky will be sophomore Wilson, the 26th-ranked player in the SEC and the No. 93-ranked player in the country. Wilson brings the fourth-best stroke average on the team with a 75.95 mark and two top-20 finishes.
Sophomore Sanz will round out the Auburn lineup with her 76.41 stroke average. The Madrid, Spain, native ranks as the No. 33 golfer in the SEC and has tallied one top-five finish in the season as she tied for second at the Auburn Invitational. At last year's SEC Championship, Sanz tied for sixth to push the Tigers to the title.
Yadloczky, Wilson and Sanz, though underclassmen, have provided the team with a strong presence throughout the season.
"This group has really meant a lot to us." Evans said. "They are incredible student-athletes. Haley and Patty were a huge one-two punch in the second part of the season. Carlie really came on big in our last tournament at Wake Forest. They have been our supporting staff this year."
Auburn enters the weekend as the top-ranked team, but will be met by a tough SEC field as 10 of the 12 teams are ranked within the GolfWeek top 50, including seven in the top 25.
"The depth is huge, it is anyone's game," Evans said. "When you go to the postseason, every team there feels like they are tied for the lead and ready to go. We feel no different and we want to play hard and play our best."
The tournament will be hosted by the University of Alabama at the par-71, 5,963-yard NorthRiver Yacht Club.
"It is a great golf course," Evans said. "It is a well established course here in the state of Alabama. It is a solid golf course that will bring out a true champion."
With a talented team, Evans knows that the key to success will be taking things slowly and execute the game plan.
"We cannot get ahead of ourselves," said Evans. "Just like every day in golf, whether it is the SEC Tournament or an invitational, you have to take it one step at a time."
Auburn is set to begin the three-day championship on Friday morning at 9:20 a.m. CT alongside Alabama and Arkansas from the No. 1 tee.
Fans can follow along with live stats of the SEC Championship at www.GolfStat.com.