Feb. 8, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Tulane's 30th-ranked golfers will open the 2013 spring campaign for the third straight year as a participating team in the UCF Challenge this Sunday-Tuesday, Feb. 10-12, at the Red Tail Golf Club in Sorrento, Fla.
The Green Wave will join an 18-team field for a three-day, 54-hole event at the par-72, 6,300-yard course. Each team will play 18 holes each day and the Wave will look to claim top honors after a pair of strong finishes in its first two appearances. Tulane was second in 2011 and posted a third place finish a year ago. Last season, senior Ashley McKenney and then freshman Gemma Drybugh split runner-up honors in the individual race.
This year's field consists of two top-20 teams, and a total of 11 squads ranked among the nation's top-60. The 2013 participants are Augusta State, Coastal Carolina (#54), College of Charleston, East Carolina, Georgia State, Kennesaw State, Louisville (#57), Miami, Missouri (#48), North Carolina (#9), Ole Miss (#42), Oregon State (#46), South Carolina (#52), South Florida, Texas State (#38), Tulane (#30), host UCF (#51) and Virginia (#18).
"We're really excited about starting our spring season this weekend at the U CF Challenge," Tulane head coach Andrew Pratt said. "It's a very strong field for the first tournament of the year. The team has put in three solid weeks of practice, playing and qualifying. I've seen some of our best golf since I've been here these last three weeks."
The Green Wave enters the spring season coming off a very strong fall campaign that saw Dryburgh and senior Maribel Lopez Porras each register a tournament victory in four events. Dryburgh took top honors in the season opener at the Old Waverly Bulldog Classic, while Porras ruled the field in the fall finale at the Alamo Invitational.
Opfer registered a personal best 15th place finish in the Mason Rudolph Championships and sports a 74.67 average, while Penttila has a 74.25 average and notched a career-best third-place finish at the Old Waverly Bulldog Invitational.
"The key for the first tournament of the season is you have to stay patient no matter what. Everyone is still a little rusty and it's easy to get anxious and get away from your game plan in a tournament. This will obviously be a new course for the three freshmen but Maribel (Lopez Porras) and Gemma (Dryburgh) played here last year and they were solid," Pratt said.
"There is always a learning curve when you go to a course you have never seen but that's where Linn (Gustafsson) and I step in to really help each player figure out their individual game plan for that course. We lost by three shots here last year to finish 3rd and I know Maribel and Gemma remember that feeling. I look for us to be in contention again this year going into the last round and for this tournament to kick start a terrific spring for the Green Wave, Pratt added."