The University of Memphis women's golf team is slated to participate in the 3M Augusta Invitational on March 15-18 at the famed Forest Hills Golf Club in Augusta, GA.
Forest Hills Golf Club possesses a rich and prestigious history. In 1930, legendary golfer Bobby Jones won at Forest Hills in the Southeastern Open to complete the first leg of his eventual Grand Slam of Golf. Some of the PGA Tour's best, including Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth have competed on the course.
The Tigers (64-30-3) will not be entering the event blind and unprepared. Head Coach Beth Walthal Harrelson says that the team is familiar with Forest Hills and has practiced there in recent years.
"The greens are very undulating and typically the lies around the green are tight," Harrelson said. "We have had several good short game practices and feel prepared for the course and competition."
One of fifteen teams participating, the Tigers will have their work cut out for them as multiple teams in the field are ranked ahead of them. A good showing at the 3M Augusta Invitational would go a long way towards sealing up the American Athletic Conference and a coveted NCAA Tournament selection.
"We absolutely pay attention to the rankings because our postseason is dependent on where we stand in the rankings," Harrelson said. "We are currently 56 on Golfweek and 67 on Golfstat."
Memphis needs a ranking of 57 or better to win the AAC and to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
The Tigers are playing their best golf of the spring season, finishing 5th at the Moon Golf Invitational in February and a recent 2nd place finish in the River Landing Classic earlier this month. In the process, junior Madison Thomas and senior Emily Goldstein both pocketed AAC Golfer of the Week awards by finishing fifth and second in those events.
Along with Thomas and Goldstein, Harrelson also praised redshirt junior Michaela Fletcher and junior Sydney Colwill. Fletcher opened the fall season with a victory at the Payne Stewart Invitational in September. Colwill has a top five finish at the UCF Challenge and closed out the fall season with a tournament victory at the Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Hawaii.
Armed with a handful of golfers who can win tournaments on their own, Harrelson is incredibly confident that she has the right mix of talent to compete at the 3M Augusta Invitational and beyond – including the NCAA Tournament.
"We are definitely a deep team," Harrelson said. "In golf, we count 4 out of 5 scores, so it is vital that we play strong as a team while believing and encouraging one another. This is the strongest team I have coached and I know that they can achieve the goal of playing in the postseason at the NCAA Tournament."
Emily Goldstein follows through on her swing. She is the lone senior on the 2017 roster.
Madison Thomas gets set to putt. The Kentucky native is one of three juniors on the 2017-18 roster.