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No. 30 Buckeyes travel to California to open spring slate against competitive field

COLUMBUS, Ohio – After a three-month break from action, the Ohio State women’s golf team will return to competition Feb. 8-10 by hosting the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge for the 15th season in Palos Verdes, Calif. Competing on the par 71, 5,912-yard Palos Verdes Golf Club, the three-day, 54-hole tournament will mark the start of the Buckeyes’ spring schedule.

The tournament will commence Monday with tee times beginning at 9:30 a.m., with the Buckeyes starting off the No. 10 tee. The event continues Tuesday with 8:30 a.m. tee times and concludes Wednesday with an 8 a.m. shotgun start.

TOURNAMENT BASICS
Name:
Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge
Course: Palos Verdes Golf Club (par 71, 5,912 yards)
Field: 15 teams (Golfweek rankings)
Arizona State (1)
California (10)
Colorado (69)
Denver (18)
Duke (7)
Florida (11)
Louisville (21)
Michigan State (5)
Ohio State (30)
Pepperdine (13)
TCU (35)
UC Irvine (37)
UCLA (2)
USC (15)
Wake Forest (15)
Schedule:
Monday, Feb. 8: 18 holes (9:30 a.m. tee times)
Tuesday, Feb. 9: 18 holes (8:30 a.m. tee times)
Wednesday, Feb. 10: 18 holes (8 a.m. shotgun start)

KEEPING AN EYE ON THINGS
Live scoring for the tournament will be available at www.golfstat.com. A link to the tournament will also be available at the women’s golf schedule page on www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.  

THE LINE-UP
Competing in its own tournament, the entire Buckeye squad will make the trip to the west coast. Freshmen Susana Benavides and Rachel Rohanna, sophomore Vicky Villanueva, junior In Hong Lim and senior captain Emma Jandel will represent Ohio State’s starting line-up, while freshman Amy Meier and sophomore Nara Shin will compete as individuals.

 The event will be the fourth official tournament for Rohanna, Lim, Benavides and Villanueva and the third for Meier, Jandel and Shin. For veteran Buckeyes Villanueva, Shin, Lim and Jandel, the Northrop Grumman will be familiar territory as all four competed in 2009.

SCOUTING THE COMPETITION
Always a competitive field, the Northrop Grumman will serve as a preview for many of the teams that the Buckeyes will encounter in postseason play. Four of the 15 competing teams sit in the Top 10 of the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, while nine teams hail from the Top 20 and 11 from the Top 30.

Also adding to the competitiveness of the field will be the No. 1 and 2 teams in the country found in defending national champion Arizona State and runner-up UCLA. Of the 14 other teams in the field, the Buckeyes previously faced California, Louisville, Michigan State, Pepperdine, TCU, UC Irvine and Wake Forest during fall play.

At the Golfweek Conference Challenge, the Buckeyes represented the Big Ten with a fourth-place finish, ahead of sixth place UC Irvine. Carding a total of 884 (+20), Ohio State trailed tournament leaders Pepperdine and California by only a few strokes. The Buckeyes also proved their ability to play with top squads at the Lady Northern Invitational when they tied Big Ten foe and Top 5 team Michigan State for second with a score of 878.

BUCKEYES PAST AND PRESENT
After a three-month break from competition, the Buckeyes 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 Buckeyes teed off against six LPGA Tour players, including talented alumni 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.

WEATHER FORECAST
The weather outlook for California looks promising with highs in the mid-60s and lows in the mid-40s each day. The forecast promises sunny to partly cloudy skies throughout the tournament. With little chance for precipitation, www.weather.com has issued a golf index of “very good” throughout the three-day event.

Last year at the Northrop Grumman, the Buckeyes played through rain and 30-40 mph winds en route to their 11th place finish.
    
A LOOK AT THE LINKS
The host of the 2010 Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge will be the historic Palos Verdes Golf Club in Palos Verdes, Calif. Built in 1924, the par 71, 5,912-yard course, which consists of narrow Bermuda grass fairways and quick Poa Annua greens, boasts a course rating of 70.4 and a slope of 131. Designed by architects George C. Thomas, Jr. and William Bell, the course was built to attract residents to the Palos Verdes area. In 2007, a two-year renovation of the clubhouse was completed.

LAST YEAR AT THE NORTHROP
At the 2009 installment of the Northrop Grumman, the Buckeyes concluded their own event in 11th. Opening with a team score of 318, the Buckeyes continued to improve each day, adding rounds of 317 and 316 to their 951 total.

Battling strong winds and rain, the Buckeyes were led by junior In Hong Lim who carded a 235 to tie for 28th. One stroke back from Lim at 236 was former Buckeye Gemma Webster who concluded the tournament tied for 34th. 

Last year, top-ranked Arizona State won the tournament by an 18-stroke margin. Notching a team score of 898, the Sun Devils were led by Juliana Murcia who took medalist honors. Wake Forest and UCLA who took second and third, respectively. Of the 16 teams that competed in 2009, Arizona State, Wake Forest, UCLA, USC, California, Denver, Michigan State, Florida and Pepperdine will be back for a rematch in 2010.

AYE, AYE CAPTAIN
At the conclusion of fall play, the Buckeyes elected senior Emma Jandel as their captain. Jandel served as a Buckeye co-captain for the previous two seasons. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Jandel has competed in 107 rounds during her Buckeye career and is the lone senior on the squad this season.

MAKING RANK
After concluding the Mercedes-Benz Championship in 15th, the Ohio State women’s golf team slipped to the 30th position in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings. The Buckeyes are currently led by freshman Rachel Rohanna who is the 60th ranked individual according to the poll. Ohio State also made the Top 25 of the www.golfstat.com Freshman Class Impact Ranking with two freshmen in its Top 5.

Around the Big Ten, the Buckeyes are the third-best team in the league, trailing Purdue and Michigan State who have jumped to the Nos. 4 and 5 slots, respectively.     

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.

SPRING FLING
Limited to indoor practice facilities for the past three months, the Buckeyes will jumpstart their spring schedule in February. After opening in California at the Northrop Grumman, Ohio State will take on the east coast at the Central District Invitational (Feb. 22-23) in Parrish, Fla.

From there, the Buckeyes will compete at the UK-KSU Invitational (March 1-2) and the Liz Murphy Collegiate Classic (March 26-28). In April, the Buckeyes will travel to Greensboro, N.C. for the Bryan National Collegiate (April 2-4) before returning home to defend the crown of their 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.

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.

CRUNCHING NUMBERS
Heading into spring play, the Buckeyes are led by freshman Rachel Rohanna who currently posts a stroke-average of 73.89 after nine rounds. Competing in three events on the Buckeye’s fall slate, the Waynesburg, Pa., native has already carded two rounds under par in her rookie campaign. Close behind is junior In Hong Lim who has tallied an average of 75.11 after three events.

FALL RECAP
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 finish 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, 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.

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
After returning from California, the Buckeyes will have a week off before returning to action Feb. 22-23 at the Central District Invitational in Parrish, Fla.