Do you like to play golf? Of course you do. Do you like to watch golf? Okay, that limits the field. Do you like to follow the sport of golf? Nah, I didn’t think so. But if you’re here at DawgSports, you do like the University of Georgia and all the student-athletes that wear the Red & Black. So with that in mind, here is the spring preview for the Georgia Men’s & Women’s golf teams.
Coach Josh Brewer is now in his 5th season at Georgia, and he has his squad moving in the right direction. Historically, UGA has been a powerhouse in women’s golf, earning a team national championship and 3 individual national championships since its inception in 1967. We have 11 SEC titles (plus 8 individual SEC titles), and have finished in the top 20 in 25 of the last 33 years. Georgia’s own Vicki Goetze defeated none other than Annika Sorenstam to win an NCAA individual title (Sorenstam is widely considered the most successful, most dominant women’s golfer in history). There are tons of other accolades, but I think you get the picture.
Results were a bit mixed prior to Brewer’s arrival, but currently the Bulldogs rank #5 in the country. The fall campaign was successful, as we won 2 team tournaments as well as a 4th and 6th in the very competitive Annika Intercollegiate and Stanford Intercollegiate respectively. It is a talented lineup of both upper and lowerclassmen:
Harang Lee, Sammi Lee, and Mary Ellen Shuman are in their final year. Isabella Skinner is the lone junior, but the sophomore class of Jillian Hollis, Rinko Mitsunaga, and Bailey Tardy are some of the most formidable collegiate golfers in the country. Gabriela Coello is a highly-touted freshman.
Want to know how good Tardy is? 2015-16 1st team All American, 1st team All SEC, SEC Freshman of the Year, twice tied 2nd lowest score in UGA history… oh, and ranked #10/#13 nationally by the two foremost collegiate polls. She leads the team scoring average at 70.60.
Harang Lee (ranked #17/#18 nationally) has only played in two events this season, but is 2nd on the team scoring 71.20. The other Super Sophs, Hollis and Mitsunaga (#41/#42 nationally) round out the best scorers with averages of 72.8 and 72.00 respectively.
The Women’s Golf team is heading to Puerto Rico for the Lady Puerto Rico Classis February 12-14, then Hilton Head March 3-5, a Match Play event in L.A. March 13-14, then to Greensboro (NC) to close out March, before heading home to close out the regular season in Athens April 7-9. The SEC Championships will be April 21-23 in Birmingham. This team should qualify for the opening round of the NCAA regionals in May with no problems.
We got some history here too, boys and girls. Georgia still leads all SEC teams with 26 conference titles. From 1971-1996, Georgia produced 31 All Americans, ten top 10 national finishes, and 7 SEC belts. Current Coach Chris Haack came in with a bang starting in 1997, and captured the 1999 NCAA National Championship, and repeated the trick in 2005. He’s led the Bulldogs to 5 SEC titles, including last season. He tends to identify, obtain, and develop talent as shown by current PGA Tour winners Chris Kirk (2006 SEC Player of the Year), Kevin Kisner (2003 SEC Freshman of the Year), Brendon Todd (2004 SEC Freshman of the Year), and Brian Harman (2006 SEC Freshman of the Year). Oh, and he’s coached current PGA winners Russell Henley, Harris English, Hudson Swafford, and a two-time Masters champion in the form of Bubba Watson.
The current squad is led by senior Greyson Sigg and fellow senior Jaime Lopez Rivarola. Zach Healy is the only junior on the roster. The Sophomore class is made up of Tye Waller, Matthew Beringer, Jack Larkin, and David Mackey. Then there are some solid freshmen in Spencer Ralston, Trevor Phillips, and Will Chandler.
Sigg is truly the leader this year, having emerged from the shadow of last year’s stars Lee McCoy (SEC Player of the Year) and Sepp Straka. And he’s been named to the watch list for the 2017 Hogan Award, given to the top collegiate golfer over the past 12 months (McCoy was a finalist last year, and Kirk won it in 2006). Sigg has captured an individual 2nd place finish this season while leading the team by averaging 70.44 strokes over 9 rounds this fall. Ralston is following in the Georgia freshman footsteps by helping the Bulldogs to the tune of 71.00 stroke average. Waller and Lopez Rivarola are the other Bulldogs to play all 9 competitive rounds and also have the 3rd and 4th best scoring averages.
Georgia is currently #9 in the national standings, following a decent fall season where they had finishes of 2nd, 5th, 7th, and 2nd. They will next follow the Women’s Golf team in Puerto Rico the following week (2/19-21), then to Los Cabos, Mexico 2/26-28. A 1-day tourney in Athens March 13 is the home stop before the short jaunt to Greensboro (GA) March 19-21. Staying close to home, they will see what Augusta has to offer for an intercollegiate April 1&2, then prep for the SEC Championships April 21-24 on St. Simons Island. The mid-May NCAA regionals are not a sure thing, but a very likely thing, as the SEC is extremely competitive. So much so that the #1 and #2 teams in the country are Vandy and Florida. Ole Miss, Texas A&M, LSU, and Auburn are all in the top 25. This doesn’t count Alabama who is only a couple of years removed from a national championship (and current 2nd hottest PGA player on the planet Justin Thomas).
We have historically elite programs, and this year is living up the high expectations set by those before them. Let me know if you have questions about the team, scoring, other programs, or whatever, in the comments below. And as always...