Ohio State travels to Florida for dual competition with Michigan State

COLUMBUS, Ohio After being limited to indoor facilities for the past three month, the Ohio State women’s golf team will hit the links and prepare for the upcoming spring season when it competes in the 18-hole Fort Myers Challenge Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla.
    In their first outing of the New Year, the Buckeyes tee off against Big Ten foe Michigan State at the par 72, 6,362-yard The Club at Renaissance.

Fort Myers Challenge
Course: The Club at Renaissance (par 72, 6,362 yards)
Field: 2 teams (Golfweek rankings) – Ohio State (28), Michigan State (20)
Schedule: 18 holes Sunday

    Representing the Buckeyes in Florida will be seniors Jessica Hauser and Gemma Webster, junior Emma Jandel, sophomore In Hong Lim and freshmen Nara Shin and Victoria Villanueva. All six had tournament experience in the fall.

    The Scarlet and Gray kicked off their fall schedule Oct. 3-5 in Chapel Hill, N.C., where they finished in seventh at the Tar Heel Invitational. Leading for the Buckeyes was senior Jessica Hauser who shot a final round of 1-under 71 to finish in a tie for 21st. Close behind Hauser was freshman Nara Shin who tied for 24th in her first collegiate tournament.  
     At the Lady Northern Invitational in West Lafayette, Ind., the Buckeyes had the opportunity to preview both their Big Ten competition and tournament course. Ohio State placed sixth, missing fifth-place by just one stroke. With a career-best finish, Hauser again led the team tying for 10th.
     The Landfall Tradition at the end of October was Ohio State’s second trip to North Carolina in the month. The squad’s second-place finish was both their best finish of the season and at the tournament. Both freshmen Victoria Villanueva and Shin finished in the Top 10.

    After a three month hiatus, the Fort Myers Challenge marks the beginning of a competitive spring schedule for the Buckeyes. With the fairways covered in snow, the Buckeyes have been practicing in various indoor facilities to work on different components of the game. The matchup with Michigan State will allow the Buckeyes the chance to get some outdoor practice before hosting a talent-loaded Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge in February.

    A familiar face on the Buckeye schedule, Ohio State has already teed off against Michigan State at both the Tar Heel and Lady Northern Invitational.

     During the fall season, the Buckeyes found talent in the freshmen duo of Nara Shin and Victoria Villanueva. Shin, who concluded the Landfall Tradition in ninth place, has finished in the top three of the Buckeye line-up at every competition.
    After representing her home country of Argentina at the 2008 World Amateur Team Championships, Villanueva finished sixth in just her second collegiate tournament and helped the Buckeyes to second place at the Landfall Tradition.
    Because of the performances of Shin and Villanueva thus far, Ohio State has earned a slot in the Top 25 of the Freshmen Class Impact Rankings.

    In individual standings, senior Jessica Hauser has led for the Buckeyes in two of their three competitions this season. The native of Hartland, Wis., tied for 10th at the Lady Northern after finishing tied for 21st at the Tar Heel Invitational. Hauser currently holds the second-lowest stroke average on the team with a 76.44 after nine rounds of play.

    Unlike the Buckeyes’ previous tournaments this season, the Fort Myers Challenge is only a one-day, 18-hole event, meaning the Buckeyes will only have one round to secure a victory. Thus far, the Buckeye’s low rounds have come only in the second and third rounds of play.
    Last year, the Buckeyes went head-to-head with Florida Atlantic at the Naples Challenge, falling to the Owls by a three-stroke decision after 18 holes.

     This season, Ohio State is lead by head coach Therese Hession who is now in her 18th year with the Scarlet and Gray. In her tenure, Hession has led the Buckeyes to seven Big Ten championships, 10 NCAA championship appearances and 14-consecutive NCAA regional appearances.
    Also a veteran Big Ten leader, Michigan State head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll has been at the helm of the Spartans for the past 12 years. In that time, Slobodnik-Stoll has taken the Spartans to 10-consecutive NCAA regional appearances, six trips to the NCAA championships and 22 tournament wins.

    The Fort Myers Challenge will not be the last time the Buckeyes face the Spartans. The two teams are scheduled to compete again on Feb. 9-11 at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, April 18-19 at the Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational, and April 24-26 at the Big Ten Championship.

    Ohio State head coach Therese Hession added three names to its roster for next season with the signing of Susana Benavides, Amy Meier and Rachel Rohanna to NCAA National Letters of Intent Nov. 21. The trio will be eligible to compete for the Buckeyes in the 2009-10 season. Benavides is a native of Bolivia, while Meier is from Rochester Hills, Mich., and Rohanna is from Waynesburg, Pa.

    For the 14th-consecutive year, Ohio State will host the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, Feb. 9-11 in Palos Verdes, Calif.