ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia women’s golf team will return to competition this weekend when the Bulldogs travel to Franklin, Tenn., for the Mason Rudolph Championships presented by Simmons Bank. The 54-hole event will be contested on Friday-Sunday at the Vanderbilt Legends Club.
Georgia is in the Mason Rudolph field for the second consecutive season and the 12th time in the tournament’s 22-year history. Last year, the six Bulldogs in the field combined to post par-or-better tallies in 10 of 18 individual rounds.
“You have confidence but at the same time, who knows? The golf course could be a little different,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “It’s been a place where throughout history you’ve been able to make birdies, unless weather rolls in. We had a lot of low rounds last year, so we need to get the confidence going and just go play like we can. We just want to concentrate on ourselves go play well. If will do that, everything else will take care of itself.”
Georgia’s lineup for the weekend is led by super seniors Jo Hua Hung and Jenny Bae along with seniors Caroline Craig, Céleste Dao and Caterina Don.
Hung was the Bulldogs’ top finisher a year ago, shooting a career-low 7-under 209 score en route to finishing fifth individually.
“For me, it gives me a good vibe and good memories when I go out there, but honestly I don’t really think about it much,” Hung said. “Right now, I just think that the more we enjoy being on the course, the better the chance we can play well. So, since I have good memories there, I feel ok. I just have to try to do the same thing as last year and see how it goes.”
Craig played the final 36 holes at 1-under and tied for 27th during the 2021 Mason Rudolph.
“It’s definitely nice to go back to a familiar place because you do have a general idea but at the same time, it changes every year,” Craig said. “The course that we are going to play this year might be completely different than last year, so I really just try to approach it as a new course. It’s familiar turf, but I’m still figuring out my game plan, figuring out how I am going to approach each shot. I’m a lit bit longer this year and I have different aspects of my game that are stronger. Seeing how those parts of my game will be played on the course is just as important.”
Hung led Georgia in the Bulldogs’ season opener at the Cougar Classic last week. She tied for eighth individually, while Bae and Craig both tied for 10th.
“I feel like my game is in shape right now and is solid,” Hung said. “I feel like everyone on the team is ready, especially because I remember the yards at this course are not long. It’s more about short game, and we did a lot of short game work during the past week and a half, so yes we’re excited to get back to the course and play.”
Craig wrapped up the Cougar Classic with a career-low 5-under 66 on the par-71 layout at Yeamans Hall Club.
“My game really felt together,” Craig said. “It felt like the hard work I put in beforehand really showed and paid off. I didn’t lose as many strokes to putting; I felt really confident on the greens. I had a lot more reasonable birdie opportunities. I kind of knew when to attack and when to play smart, especially with longer clubs in my hand. Just getting it on the green, getting a good look at it, I felt like that aspect was really strong. I understood the opportunity that I had at hand and I just really wanted to make the most of it. I feel like my game was ready for the tournament and it showed.”
Georgia had a week of preparation in Athens since returning from Charleston.
“We’ve focused on just simple stuff,” Brewer said. “We’ve tried – really for the 11 years I’ve been here – to do very basic work. I think we need to get the lineup right more than anything because we have the talent.”
“We’ve done a lot of great work as a team, and I think that’s really going to show,” Craig said. “We’ve been working on the wedges, a lot of wedges. We just have to stay patient.”
Seven of the 14 participating teams were featured in one or both of the preseason ledgers. Georgia was No. 17 in the first edition of the Mizuno WGCA Coaches Poll and No. 19 in Golfweek’s preseason rankings. LSU was No. 8 in both, followed by Auburn (No. 12 WGCA/No. 12 Golfweek), the Bulldogs, Alabama (No. 17 WGCA/No. 26 Golfweek), Kentucky (No. 21 Golfweek/No. 25 WGCA), Ohio State (No. 20 Golfweek/rv WGCA) and Ole Miss (No. 23 Golfweek/rv WGCA). Rounding out the competing teams are Chattanooga, Denver, Georgia Southern, Middle Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Washington.
“It’s nice to see actual West Coast schools travel here,” Brewer said. “It doesn’t happen very often. They kind of stay in their little comfort zone, so it’s nice from that end. And to see a few SEC schools as well because we haven’t seen many of them since last year’s national championship if they made it.”
Georgia won the 2003 Mason Rudolph and finished as runner-up in 2005 and 2006. In 2015, the Bulldogs fired what was then a school-record 13-under tally in the second round at Legends Club. In addition, Jackie Beers and current Vanderbilt assistant coach Emilie (Burger) Meason earned medalist honors for Georgia at the tourney in 2004 and 2012, respectively.
The Bulldogs will be paired with Alabama and Arizona for Friday’s first round, teeing off in 10-minute intervals between 11:10-11:50 a.m. ET. Live scoring will be available throughout the tournament at www.golfstat.com.