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Ohio State looks for fourth-consecutive top 5 finish

COLUMBUS, Ohio – After concluding the inaugural Kinderlou Forest Challenge in second place, the 21st-ranked Ohio State women’s golf team looks to continue its streak of top 5 team finishes at the 38th Annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in Athens, Ga. The Buckeyes will spend their spring break competing in the three-day, 54-hole event March 26-28 on the par 72, 6,335-yard University of Georgia Golf Course.

Featuring 19 teams in the top 50 of the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, including 11 of the top 20, the three-day, 54-hole tournament will have tee times beginning at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday and a 9 a.m. shotgun start Sunday.

TOURNAMENT BASICS
Name: Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic
Course: University of Georgia Golf Course, Athens, Ga. (par 72, 6,335 yards)
Field: 22 teams (Golfweek rankings)
Alabama (7)
Arkansas (35)
Auburn (3)
Denver (17)
Duke (6)
Florida (10)
Furman (44)
Georgia (15)
Georgia State (51)
Kent State (31)
Michigan State (14)
Mississippi (50)
Mississippi State (119)
North Carolina (32)
Ohio State (21)
Purdue (9)
South Carolina (27)
Tennessee (11)
Tulane (28)
UCF (68)
Virginia (16)
Wake Forest (18)
Schedule:
Friday, March 26: 18 holes (9 a.m. tee times)
Saturday, March 27: 18 holes (9 a.m. tee times)
Sunday, March 28: 18 holes (9 a.m. shotgun start)

KEEPING AN EYE ON THINGS
Live scoring for the 38th Annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic will be available at www.golfstat.com. Links to the tournament also will be available at the women’s golf schedule page on www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.   

THE LINE-UP
Buckeyes spending their break in Georgia include freshmen Amy Meier, Susana Benavides and Rachel Rohanna, sophomore Vicky Villanueva, junior In Hong Lim and senior captain Emma Jandel. Benavides will be competing as an individual at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic.

Rohanna and Lim have each competed in six events for Ohio State, while Benavides, Villanueva, Jandel and Meier have participated in five.

SCOUTING THE COMPETITION
In addition to the No. 21 Buckeyes, 12 of the teams competing hail from the top 25 of the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Playing a competitive schedule, Ohio State has already faced 18 of the 22 teams in the field. En route to their numerous top 5 team finishes, the Buckeyes have already placed higher than Arkansas, Denver, Duke, Florida, Furman, Georgia, Georgia State, Kent State, Michigan State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wake Forest at some point in the season.

So far, UCF, Alabama and defending tournament champion Auburn are the only teams Ohio State has not yet teed up against.

FRESHMEN FORCE
A key factor to the Buckeyes’ success this season has been the edition of freshmen Amy Meier, Susana Benavides and Rachel Rohanna. In their rookie seasons, the trio has each notched a top 10 finish.

Rohanna, a native of Waynesburg, Pa., currently leads the Buckeyes in stroke average with a 74.89. In just her second collegiate event, she concluded the Lady Northern Invitational in fourth by firing a 54-hole total of 218 (+2) after opening with a 2-under round of 70 in a tournament that previews the Big Ten course and field.

Recently named Big Ten Golfer of the Week, Meier has led for the Buckeyes at their last two outings. Notching a 54-hole total of 222 (+6) at both events, the Rochester Hills, Mich., product tied for 14th at the Central District Invitational (Feb. 22-23) and broke into the Top 10 with a tie for seventh at the Kinderlou Forest Challenge (March 1-2).

Competing as an individual at the Mercedes-Benz Championship (Oct. 16-18), Benavides, a native of Cochabamba, Bolivia, tied for sixth at 218 (+2). She also concluded the All-Ohio Invitational (25-26) in third.

WEATHER FORECAST
The 2009 Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic lost two rounds of play to the elements, a first in tournament history. This year, sunshine and temperatures in the mid- to high-60s are expected Friday and Saturday, according to weather.com, with possible thundershowers moving in Sunday. Not surprisingly, the Web site’s Golf Index is “very good” for Friday and Saturday and “fair” for Sunday.

A LOOK AT THE LINKS
Designed by architect Robert Trent Jones, The University of Georgia Golf Course has played host to three NCAA women’s championships since its opening in 1968. The course was crowned one of the Top 50 public golf courses by Golf Digest.

Featuring water on four of its holes, the par 72, 6,335-yard course is composed of long, Bermuda fairways and quick, bent grass greens. With a slope of 133, the course was also named one of the 25 best university golf courses in the country by Links magazine.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY
The Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic is one of the oldest collegiate women’s golf tournaments in the country. Now in its 38th year, the tournament began in 1973 as the Georgia Invitational. Later renamed the Women’s Southern Intercollegiate Championship in 1977, the tournament underwent one final name change in 1995 when it was renamed for the University of Georgia’s Hall of Fame coach Liz Murphey.

GEORGIA ON MY MIND
The Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic will mark the second time in a matter of weeks that the Buckeyes have traveled to Georgia. At the Kinderlou Forest Challenge (March 1-2), the Buckeyes fired a team score of 896 at the par 73, 6,265-yard Kinderlou Forest Golf Club in Valdosta, Ga. Finishing the competitive event as runner-up, the Buckeyes were led by freshman Amy Meier who tied for seventh. Also in the Top 20 of the field were senior captain Emma Jandel and freshman Rachel Rohanna who tied for 16th.

BIG TEN GOLFER OF THE WEEK 
For her recent performance at the Kinderlou Forest Challenge (March 1-2), freshman Amy Meier was named Big Ten Golfer of the Week, the conference announced March 3. It was the first weekly honor for a Buckeye this season.

For the second-consecutive tournament, Meier was the top finisher for the Buckeyes in a tie for seventh at 3-over 222. Her finish helped Ohio State place runner-up in an 18-team field that featured 11 teams ranked in the top 30 of the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings. The two-day, 54-hole event was held on the par 73, 6,265-yard Kinderlou Forest Golf Club in Valdosta, Ga.

After opening with a 79, the Rochester Hills, Mich., native fired a 70 in her second round to tie for the low round of the tournament. She had a span during round two where she birdied five of six holes. Meier secured her first career top 10 finish with a solid final round of even-par 73 that included four birdies to offset four bogies.

LAST TIME AT THE LIZ MURPHEY
The 2009 edition of the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic was one for the record books as rain shortened the event for the first time in tournament history. After two days of steady rain, the Buckeyes fired a single round of 304 to tie for fourth. Leading for the Buckeyes was junior In Hong Lim who shot an even-par round of 72 to tie the competitive field in third. Notching rounds of 77, sophomore Vicky Villanueva and former Buckeye Gemma Webster tied for 30th.

Auburn, who bested the Buckeyes by just five strokes, won the tournament with a round of 299, while Kathleen Ekey of Alabama took medalist honors with a 3-under round of 69. 

MAKING RANK
After their second-place performance at the Kinderlou Forest Challenge, the Buckeyes jumped three places in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Currently the No. 21 team in the nation, the Buckeyes have notched a Top 5 finish at their last three outings.

In addition to Ohio State, Alabama (7), Auburn (3), Denver (17), Duke (6), Florida (10), Georgia (15), Michigan State (14), Purdue (9), Tennessee (11), Virginia (16) and Wake Forest (18) will also represent the Top 25 of the poll this weekend.

The Buckeyes are led by freshman Rachel Rohanna who is the 82nd individual according to the ratings. Also in the Top 100 is senior captain Emma Jandel who sits in the 90th position.

The ratings is a mathematical system which uses factors such as schedule strength, records, number of events played, power rating and schedule ranking to determine the position of each team.

Ohio State also received recognition from www.golfstat.com with the 21st slot in NCAA Head-to-Head standings. The Buckeyes are also in the Top 25 of the Freshman Class Impact Rankings.

AYE, AYE CAPTAIN
At the conclusion of fall play, Ohio State elected senior Emma Jandel as its captain. The Dayton, Ohio, native served as a Buckeye co-captain for the previous two seasons. She has competed in 116 rounds during her Buckeye career and is the lone senior on the squad this season. At the Northrop Grumman, Jandel was the top finisher among the Buckeyes, tying for 12th in the competitive field.

After 15 rounds, Jandel currently posts the second-lowest stroke average on the team with a 75.13.

SPRING FLING
Nearing the end of their regular season slate, the Buckeyes will face a quick turnaround when they travel to North Carolina for the Bryan National Collegiate (April 2-4). From there, Ohio State looks to defend the team title at its own Lady Buckeye Invitational (April 17-18).

The Big Ten Championships (April 23-25) will mark the start of postseason play for Ohio State who will look to secure its 16th-consecutive NCAA regional appearance.

BUCKEYES PAST AND PRESENT
After a three-month break from competition, Ohio State had the opportunity to dust off some of the cobwebs with an alumni match held Jan. 31. Competing for bragging rights in West Palm Beach, Fla., the team teed off against six LPGA Tour players, including talented alumni Allison Hanna, Meg Mallon and Lisa Strom from Ohio State.

The tournament, which consisted of six holes of best ball, alternative shot and regular play, went to the alumni, who bested the Buckeyes with a score of 8-4.

HESSION HONORED
In addition to leading the Buckeyes to 15-consecutive regional appearances and 11 trips to the national championship, head coach Therese Hession was also honored as the recipient of the 2010 Gladys Palmer Meritorious Service Award in December. The most prestigious award given by the National Golf Coaches Association, she received the award for her outstanding service and commitment to collegiate golf.

A former Treasurer and President of the NGCA, Hession was also the recipient of the 1989 LPGA Tour Samaritan Award. In her 19-year tenure at the helm of the Buckeyes, she has molded exceptional athletes both on the course and in the classroom. Under Hession, the Ohio State women’s golf team has produced 10 Duramed NGCA All-America selections, 41 All-Big Ten selections, five Big Ten Player of the Year and five Big Ten Freshman of the Year recipients. Academically, she has overseen 26 NGCA All-American Scholars, 78 Academic All-Big Ten selections and 111 OSU Scholar-Athletes.

FALL BALL
Ohio State opened its fall schedule Sept. 13-15 at the Golfweek Conference Challenge in Las Vegas, Nev. There, the Buckeyes carded a team score of 884, just three strokes back from tournament winner Pepperdine. Leading the team was junior In Hong Lim who carded a three-day total of 219 to tie for sixth. Tying for 11th, freshman Rachel Rohanna finished her first collegiate tournament with a score of 221.

After competing in Sin City, the Buckeyes previewed their Big Ten Course and field at the Lady Northern Invitational in Madison, Wis. The site of the 2010 Big Ten tournament, the Buckeyes fired a team score of 878 on the par 72, 6,246 University Ridge Golf Course to tie for second with Michigan State. Rohanna, senior Emma Jandel and sophomore Vicky Villanueva concluded the tournament in the Top 20. Rohanna led the Buckeyes with a fourth place finish at 218 (+2).

Next up, Ohio State fired a team score of 921 at the Mercedes-Benz Championship Oct. 16-18. Finishing in 15th, Ohio State was again led by Rohanna who placed 28th at 226. Competing as an individual, freshman Susana Benavides tied for sixth. Shooting a 218, her total included a round of 1-under 71 on the par 72, 6,317 Fox Den course in Knoxville, Tenn.

The Buckeyes wrapped their fall slate on their own Scarlet Course when they hosted the All-Ohio Invitational Oct. 25-26. Contending against in-state competition from Bowling Green, Dayton and Ohio University, Ohio State posted four finishers in the Top 5 of the field. Leading the field by eight strokes was Villanueva who took medalist honors with a 36-hole total of 143 (+1). Also in the Top 5 were sophomore Nara Shin and freshmen Susana Benavides and Amy Meier.

COACHES CORNER
The 2009-10 season marks the 19th year the Buckeyes are led by head coach Therese Hession. A former LPGA professional, Hession has molded the Ohio State golf program into one with a strong tradition of excellence. In her time at Ohio State, she has led the Buckeyes to seven Big Ten championships, 11 NCAA championship appearances and 15-consecutive NCAA regional appearances. Hession is an NGCA Hall of Famer and six-time Big Ten Coach of the Year awardwinner.

Assisting Hession is former Buckeye Amy (Langhals) Miller. Now in her fifth year at the assistant coach position, Miller was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame last September. While at Ohio State, Miller was a three-time All-Big Ten selection as well as the 1997 Ohio State Female Athlete of the Year. She married Greg Miller, associate head coach of the Buckeye women’s soccer team, over the summer.

JONES NAMED 2011 U.S. SOLHEIM CUP TEAM CAPTAIN
Rosie Jones, a former Buckeye and 13-time winner on the LPGA Tour, was selected as captain of the 2011 Solheim Cup Team. Held at Killeen Castle in County Meath, Ireland, the 2011 Solheim Cup will run from Sept. 23-25. Jones, who was a part of the first U.S. Solheim Cup team in 1990, has won more than $8 million in her tenure with the tour. In her career, which spans over three decades, Jones notched 187 Top 10 finishes, five holes-in-one and a 5-4 playoff record. 

COMING SOON
Along with the opportunity to play on the renowned Scarlet Course, the Buckeyes will soon have access to the largest indoor collegiate golf facility in the country. Approved by the Ohio State Board of Trustees September 2008, the 26,000-square foot facility should break ground during the 2010-11 season.

UP NEXT
The Buckeyes will have one week off before they travel to Greensboro, N.C., for the Bryan National Collegiate, April 2-4.