ANDERSON, S.C. – Following a fall campaign that saw the Anderson women’s golf team notch three top-seven finishes in four outings, head coach Danny Neal is looking for his squad to continue building momentum during its’ spring season.
The Trojans posted their best finish of the fall (5th) at the Anderson University Invitational in mid-September and followed up by earning sixth at the King University Invitational three weeks later. AU placed seventh at Catawba’s Patsy Rendleman Invitational in mid-October and wrapped up their fall slate with an 11th-place finish at the challenging Flagler College Fall Slam in St. Augustine, Fla.
“We are looking for more consistency in our scoring,” said Neal. “We have had some tournaments where we’ve played pretty well one day and not so well the next day. It’s about consistently putting together back-to-back rounds so we can compete and finish a little better.”
Neal, entering his 11th season at the helm of the Trojan program, added “we have some ladies that were starting to play well toward the end of the semester. Of course they may be rusty following the winter break, but hopefully we can be more consistent [than last year].”
The squad’s lone senior, Katie Eskew, led the Trojans with an average score of 161 over the span of four tournaments last fall and posted her best finish by finishing in a tie for fourth with a two-round 153 at the Patsy Rendleman Invitational.
“Katie has done a good job coming back from her injury,” added Neal. “We will rely on her to be a consistently good scorer for us.”
Natalie Feder, one of two juniors on the roster, was just behind Eskew with a 164.5 average over the four-tournament span. The Hartland, Wis., native carded her lowest score of the fall with a two-day total 159 to claim a share of eighth at the AU Invitational.
“Natalie’s game has improved.” noted Neal. “She was a four-five player for us a year ago and now she is a two and three player. She has done well.”
“Katie has been playing well at No. 1 and Natalie has played well. We just need to get more help.”
Junior Sarah Timms averaged a 170 in the four fall tourneys, firing a season-best 165 to finish in a three-way tie for 18th along with Eskew and Feder at the King Invitational in early November.
“Sarah has been a little inconsistent but she’s had some good scores for us as well,” said Neal. “And I look for her to do well.”
Garyt Hamilton, one of four sophomores on this year’s squad, posted a 171 average over three fall events, topped by a 163 at the Patsy Rendleman Invitational that saw her finish in a tie for 36th.
“Garyt has the potential to be a very good player,” added Neal. “She has shown spurts of good rounds but her consistency is not quite as good as we would like. She hits the ball a long way – well past most of the girls she plays with.”
Just behind Hamilton in average last fall was junior Braiden Furtick, who carded a 169 at the AU Invitational and shared the 26th spot, while averaging 172 over four tourneys.
“Braiden has been a good steady player for us near the five spot,” added Neal.
Redshirt sophomore Crystal Swanson, a transfer from Northwest Florida State College, posted a 174 en route to sharing 28th at the King Invitational in her lone event last fall.
“We have to get Crystal some more experience,” added Neal. “She is another player who has a good bit of potential and can score well. We believe she will really provide a push and competition for the other players that are in the lineup.”
The Trojans begin action on Feb. 23-24 at the Ann Rhoads Invitational, hosted by Birmingham Southern at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Oxmoor Valley Golf Club.
“I am excited about our schedule,” added Neal. “The weather can be iffy in Birmingham [in February] but it’s a very nice place to play. And we always try to play in Pfeiffer’s tournament at Hilton Head Lakes. The weather wasn’t real good the last time – it was a little wet and course played long, but it’s a good field.”
Hamilton finished in a tie for 16th with a two-day 152 to lead Anderson to an 11th-place finish at the event a year ago.
“Wingate’s Pinehurst Challenge at the National Golf Club is always a very challenging golf course, so we are excited about playing there,” said Neal.
AU placed 15th at the Pinehurst Challenge last season, as Timms’ 179 led the Trojans’ two-effort and she finished in a four-way tie for 57th.
“The field at the Agnes McAmis Memorial is another good field,” added Neal. “If we can do well playing in strong fields, it will help our rankings.”
Paced by Eskew’s two-day 17-over-par 161, the Trojans finished 14th at the 2013 Agnes McAmis Memorial, trailing Carson-Newman and North Georgia, while finishing 10 shots ahead of Pfeiffer and 28 strokes ahead of Erskine.
The Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament will be held April 13-15 at the Sevierville Country Club in Sevierville, Tenn. for the second consecutive year with the same three-day format.
The Trojans placed seventh at last year’s conference tournament, as AU outpaced Mars Hill and Brevard. Feder led the AU effort with a three-round 261 and tied for 27th.
“It’s a very challenging golf course and a very competitive tournament,” concluded Neal. “We have a very strong conference and [the tournament] will be a challenge for us. But I like the format.”