ATHENS, Ga. — Six schools which have combined to claim 13 of 15 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf championships during the 2000s headline the 12-team field for the 2015 Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic. Georgia head coach Josh Brewer announced the competing schools for next spring’s 42nd annual tournament on Wednesday.
In addition to the Bulldogs, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Duke, Northwestern, Purdue, South Carolina, Southern Cal, Stanford and UCLA will compete in the 2015 Liz Murphey on March 27-29 at the University of Georgia Golf Course.
“To have the best field possible, sort of like a mini-national championship, is always the goal,” Brewer said. “With Coach Murphey starting the event so many years ago and now it having her name attached to it, we always want to have the best field in the country. If you look at the teams that will be here and their results at the national championships the past 10-15 years, it’s going to rival any tournament out there including the NCAA Championships.”
The impressive stretch of national championships begins with Georgia’s title in 2001, followed by Duke in 2002, Southern Cal in 2003, UCLA in 2004, Duke from 2005-07, Southern Cal in 2008, Purdue in 2010, UCLA in 2011, Alabama in 2012, Southern Cal in 2013 and Duke in 2014. All told, the 12 teams competing in the 2015 Liz Murphey have recorded 72 top-10 and 107 top-20 finishes at the NCAA Championships during the 2000s.
Those schools have also produced nine NCAA medalists, 82 top-10 finishers and 143 top-20 individual efforts since the turn of the century.
Last spring, the Liz Murphey became one of the first women’s events to switch to a combination of stroke and match play in advance of the NCAA Championships’ adaptation of a similar format in 2015. Sixteen teams competed in the 2014 event, playing 18 holes of stroke play qualifying followed by two eight-team match play brackets.
Northwestern shot a tournament-record 277 to enter match play as the top seed. Southern Cal then defeated Auburn (3-1), N.C. State (3-1) and Arkansas (3-2) to win the match play competition.
“I think all of the coaches are really excited about our format,” Brewer said. “It was very successful this spring. Now everyone has seen the men’s (national) championships on TV and understands it better. The ratings were good and you’re really starting to see and read more buzz about college golf. This format truly pits one school versus another on a daily basis.”
The Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic is one of the oldest continuous competitions in women’s intercollegiate athletics in any sport. The event began humbly in 1973 as the Georgia Invitational before becoming the Women’s Southern Intercollegiate Championships from 1977-94. In 1995 the tournament was renamed in honor of Liz Murphey, UGA’s Hall of Fame golf coach and long-time Senior Woman Administrator.
The University of Georgia Golf Course has an equally impressive history in women’s college golf circles. The layout has hosted five national championship events – the 1971 DGWS Championships, the 1981 AIAW Championships and the 1983, 1993 and 2013 NCAA Championships.