FORT MYERS, Fla. – As the spring season winds down, the FGCU women’s golf team is gearing up for the 2012 Atlantic Sun Championship. Making their fourth trip to the conference event, the Eagles will have their sights set on the program’s first-ever championship as play opens on Monday morning from the Venetian Bay Golf Club in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
“The A-Sun Conference Championship is the tournament we have been working the whole year for,” said first-year head coach Sarah Trew. “The team is excited and in great spirit, and I feel that this course sets up really well for us. It is wide open and has some good scoring opportunities and I think we have a chance to surprise people this week. I know many might count us out competing with just four individuals, but we are hitting the ball well and I'm confident that we can be successful if we take one shot at a time and allow ourselves to play our best golf yet.”
Competing against the eight other A-Sun schools, the Green and Blue head into the competition with six Top 10 finishes, four of which have also been Top 5 results. Battling injuries throughout the season, the Eagles have recorded a 316.5 team scoring average. In its best finish under the direction of Trew, the FGCU concluded the 36-hole NIU Snowbird Intercollegiate (March 15-16) in third place on the 11-team leaderboard. The Eagles have also placed 4th in a trio of three-round competitions, doing so at the USF-Waterlefe Invitational (Oct. 10-11), the Hatter Classic (Nov. 7-8) and the JU Courtyard Classic (Feb. 5-7).
At last season’ event at the Victoria Hills Golf Club in DeLand, Fla., FGCU provided its highest finish the since joining the conference, finishing in a three-way tie for third place with a 306-308-303/917. In their previous two outings, the Blue and Green finished in fifth place on the leaderboard.
Senior Fabienne Haremza (Wilderman, South Africa/Glenwood House/Lamar University), who has been the Eagles’ top finisher in five of the nine tournaments this year, enters the A-Sun Championship with a scoring average of 78.19. The Wilderman, South Africa native has recorded seven top 25 finishes this year, including three in the top 10, highlighted by a second place finish at the Hatter Classic, where she supplied her best three-round score of 73-73-77/223. Last season at the A-Sun tournament, Haremza fired her best finish of the 2011 spring season, as she placed second overall with a score of 75-72(E)-74/221, sitting just five strokes off the leader.
Providing fifteen counting scores this season, sophomore Megan Van Etten (Trinity, Fla./J.W. Mitchell HS) heads into her second conference tournament championship with a scoring average of 81.74. The Eagles’ top finisher at the Hurricane Invitational (March 5-6), Van Etten holds a pair of top 20 finishes this season, including a 10th-place showing at the 36-hole NIU Snowbird Intercollegiate where she shot 79-79/158. At the A-Sun Championship last season, the Trinity, Fla. product contributed to the Blue and Green scorecard, finishing alone in 17th place with three-round total of 232 (78-78-76).
Making her first trip to the league event, freshman Georgia Price (Winchester, England/Fort Myers HS) is coming off her best collegiate finish at the Marsh Landing Invitational (April 2-3), where she led the Green and Blue, placing in a tie for 14th overall. Holding a share of 21st entering the day, Price lowered her score in each of the three rounds, culminating with a final round 75 to climb into a four-way tie for 14th overall with a scorecard of 78-77-75/230. The tournament marked the best three-round finish and the lowest three-round score of Price’s young career. For the season, the Winchester, England native holds a 80.08 scoring average with five top 25 finishes.
In her first season with the Blue and Green, freshman Chelsea Guoynes (Traverse City, Mich./Traverse City Central HS) has also been a solid contributor with 16 counting scores, while providing a 79.80 scoring average which is good for second on the Eagles’ four-member squad. With three top 15 finishes, including a pair of top 10s, the Traverse City, Mich. native’s top finish to date came at the NIU Snowbird Intercollegiate, where she placed ninth in the field of 61 with a score of77-80/157. Guoynes was also the Eagles’ top finisher at the USF-Waterlefe Invitational, supplying a score of 82-76-76/234 to place in a share of 13th overall.
Three-time defending champion Stetson will lead a field of 10 when play opens on Monday morning. The Hatters return every member from last year’s championship team, four of which finished in the Top 20, including defending individual champion junior Alexandria Buelow. Currently 38th in the GolfStat Cup standings, Buelow enters the championship as the conference’s top-ranked golfer, and has finished in the Top 10 in eight of the Hatters’ nine tournaments this season while tallying final round scores of even or under-par three times.
According to GolfStat.com, Kennesaw State owns the conference’s top ranking at No. 61, while ETSU checks in at No. 66 and Stetson rounds out the group at No. 100. In the GolfWeek.com rankings, Stetson is currently out of the Top 100, while ETSU checks in at No. 65 and KSU remains at No. 61.
Venetian Bay Golf Club hosts the A-Sun Championship for the second time. The two nines have a different natural character. The front nine plays through more of the wooded portion of the property and the back nine with fewer trees and more parallel fairways, gives it more of a links look. One of the main features of the course is the plethora of strategically placed bunkers, 114. Venetian Bay previously hosted the A-Sun Championship in 2010, won by Stetson.
Play begins at 8 a.m. on Monday morning and fans can follow the action at www.Golfstat.com. Results and recaps from each day of the event will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.