The Georgia women’s golf team has a proud history, but almost all the team’s most prominent achievements occurred more than a decade ago.
Georgia’s lone national championship came in 2001 and its last SEC title was 2007, with recent teams mostly unable to qualify for the NCAA Championship, including last year when the Lady Bulldogs failed to take advantage of having a Regional on their home course.
With three of the team’s top four players returning, the Lady Bulldogs have a chance to make it back to the NCAAs if they can get solid contribution from the newcomers to the lineup.
Georgia returns a standout trio of juniors – Bailey Tardy of Peachtree Corners, Rinko Mitsunaga of Roswell and Jillian Hollis.
After an outstanding freshman season in which she was named first team All-America and was ranked among the top 10 in the country, Tardy slipped a bit, but still had a solid sophomore season, recording eight top-20 finishes.
Mitsunaga enjoyed a successful fall showing and joined Tardy as an honorable mention All-America selection, while Hollis played her best golf in the spring and wound up leading the team in scoring average.
Georgia collected a pair of fall wins, but mostly finished around fifth before back-to-back runner-up showings in their final regular season event and the SEC Championship. The Lady Bulldogs were seventh in their Regional at the UGA course.
Elisa Yang of Norcross is one of three freshmen looking to immediately break into the lineup, with senior Isabella Skinner of Cumming hoping to increase her playing time after seeing very limited action last season.
Georgia closes out its fall schedule with an appearance in a tournament at Atlanta Athletic Club Oct. 27-29. The event is hosted by Louisville, whose coach (Courtney Swaim Trimble) grew up playing AAC. The Lady Bulldogs will host the annual Liz Murphy Classic at the UGA course April 13-15.
Augusta was the only other Georgia team to earn a spot at Regionals, but the Lady Jaguars graduated their top three players, including four-year starters Jessica Haigwood of Roswell and Eunice Yi of Athens.
Linda Lundqvist started as a freshman and the team returns two other part-time starters. Junior Maggie Ashmore of Kingsland is the lone Georgian on the roster, and will be looking to break into the starting lineup after making just a handful of starts in each of her first two seasons.
The Lady Jaguars play two events in the state in March, including the annual event they host at Forest Hills March 16-18.
Kennesaw State returns three starters, with junior Madison Caldwell of Dawsonville looking to take over as a full-time starter after transferring from Western Carolina last season. The Lady Owls had seven top-5 finishes as a team last season, and return junior Medy Thavong, who led Kennesaw in scoring average and was selected as the Golfer of the Year in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
The Lady Owls will also play in the Fall tournament at Atlanta Athletic Club, and close out their spring schedule with three events in the state. Including the tournament they host at Pinetree CC March 26-27.
Georgia State also returns three starters, including Lawrenceville sophomore Harmanpri Kaur, who was second on the team in scoring average, closing out her freshman season with a tie for seventh in the Sun Belt Championship. Junior Jemima Gregson, who edged out Kaur for the low scoring average, also returns.
Grace Choi of Buford, who saw limited action as a freshman, will compete for a spot in the lineup this season.
The Lady Panthers join Georgia and Kennesaw in the field at Atlanta Athletic Club next month.
Georgia Southern begins its third season of women’s golf with a largely new roster, as four of the five starters are gone. Among the team’s top returning players is St. Simons sophomore Julianna Collett, who started as a freshman in the fall before being sidelined by an injury.
The Lady Eagles’ lone start in the state this fall is at Idle Hour in Macon in an event hosted by Mercer Oct. 30-31.
Mercer won its last event of the fall and first start of the spring, and had just one senior on that squad. Six of the seven players who started last season were eligible to return, and Payton Schanen, who redshirted last season after a strong freshman showing, returns to action to join an already deep roster.
Hannah Mae Deems, a senior from Taylorsville, led the team in scoring average last year and posted three top-5 finishes. Lauren Lightfritz, a sophomore from Cumming, was second in scoring behind Deems, and was one of four team members to play every round of Mercer’s 12 tournaments. Tiffany Minji Kang, a teammate of Lightfritz in high school at Lambert, closed out her freshman season with a fifth place finish in the tournament at Idle Hour.