Thursday, September 15, 2005
|Ann Rhoads and 2004 Medalist Darby Sligh|
The Alabama women’s golf program, under the direction of a new head coach for the first time since the 1988-89 season, will begin the 2005-06 campaign in a familiar setting.
New head coach Mic Potter and the Tide will host the Ann Rhoads Invitational at the Ol’ Colony Golf Complex in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 18-20. The home event will be the initial outing of the fall portion of the golf season. Play will begin at 8 a.m. on each of the three days, with one round of play scheduled per day.
The field includes 16 teams, with SEC rivals Ole Miss and Mississippi State slated to compete. In-state foes UAB, Birmingham Southern, Jacksonville State, Samford and Troy are also in the field. The state of Tennessee is also well represented, as Belmont, Memphis and Middle Tennessee State will be in attendance. Rounding out the field are Augusta State, East Carolina, Miami (Fla.), Murray State and UNC-Wilmington.
“I think we’ve got some really solid teams, with several of those teams in regional competition last year,” Potter said. “There is some quality competition coming here with teams that will have improved dramatically from last season. To do well this weekend, we’ll have to play really well.”
The event promises to be competitive, as five teams in this year’s field were NCAA Regional qualifiers from a season ago. East Carolina, Jacksonville State, Mississippi State, Miami and UNC-Wilmington each competed in postseason last year.
This year’s Ann Rhoads Invitational is the third year of the event. Tulane captured the team title in the first version in 2003, with Florida State winning the crown last season. Alabama posted a third-place finish as a team last year and a fourth-place finish in 2003.
Alabama has kept the individual hardware for their own at the Ann Rhoads Invitational, as a Tide player has won medalist honors in each of the first two years of the event. Megan George won the event in 2003, while Darby Sligh captured the crown last season.
The Tide will be led by junior transfer Jenny Suh. The former Furman All-American, who transferred to Alabama to rejoin Potter this summer, looks for her third career medal at the Ann Rhoads Invitational. She was recently recognized by Golfweek as one of the nation’s best, as she was included in the magazine’s preseason top 10 list.
Potter will look for his 36th tournament title in his career in his first outing with the Tide. With 35 to his credit, Potter stands third nationally among active women’s coaches in the nation. Alabama’s last team championship came in February of 2004, when the Tide won the Saguaro Cactus Classic.
Alabama continues its season in late October, when they will travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to compete in the Mercedes-Benz Classic on Oct. 21-23.