PINE MOUNTAIN, GA – The Peach Belt Conference will present its third annual women’s golf championship tournament beginning on Monday at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga. The tournament returns to the 5,849-yard, par-71 Lake View course, which also hosted the 2010 women’s tournament. All seven PBC schools will be competing for the championship, two of which are ranked in the top 25. The tournament will be spread across two days with teams playing one round per day.
The 2012 tournament will be the second played on the Lake View course, which hosted the first-ever PBC women’s golf tournament in 2010. Flagler won that first tournament while UNC Pembroke is the defending PBC Champions after their victory at Savannah Quarters Country Club in 2011. The 2012 championship may be the most contested yet, as the three PBC teams with the lowest stroke averages are separated by less than one stroke.
UNC Pembroke seeks to defend their title and are in a position to do so after a very successful 2011-12 season. The Braves lead the PBC in stroke average and won five tournaments this season, including three in a row to open the campaign. Ranked #10 in the nation, the Braves are led by a trio of underclassmen as juniors Meghan Moore and Shauna Walor and sophomore Dana Watkins lead the team. Moore won both the Armstrong Pirate Women’s Invitational and the Ralph Hargett Memorial and has finished in the top five in seven of her nine tournaments this year. Third in the PBC with a 76.9 stroke average, Moore finished in a tie for fourth in the 2011 Championships. Dana Watkins won the Myrtle Beach Intercollegiate and the Tusculum Fall Classic and has five top-10s while Walor has a pair of top-fives.
Columbus State will serve as the host of the 2012 PBC Tournament once again and are a strong contender to win their first title. The Cougars have two tournament titles under their belts and three second-place finishes this season. Senior Nikki Crowley is a two-time PBC Player of the Week this year. She is fourth in the PBC in stroke average and won the Lady Cougar Classic and the West Georgia Invitational. Junior Kimesha Anthony finshed second at the 2011 PBC Championships and is second in the PBC in stroke average this season. Anthony has nine top-10 finishes in 10 events this season and has the lowest single round in the Peach Belt this year with a 68 at the BSC Southern Shootout.
Lander began their women’s golf program this year and are making an immediate impact on the PBC landscape. The Bearcats are third in the league in team stroke average and won their first tournament in program history at the Dana Rader Intercollegiate in early March. Ashley Shinn has finished in the top 10 in three of her six tournaments while Mariana Martins and Dea Mahendra have each turned in two top-10s and a top-five. Lander has finished lower than third in only one of their six tournaments this season.
Flagler won the first PBC Championship in 2010 and want to be the first to win a second title this year. The Saints are ranked 23rd in the nation with three top-five team results this year. Freshman Maria Santacroce leads the team with a 79.9 stroke average, 12th in the PBC, while Nicole Keyser, Leslie Couchard and Lauren Bennetti all have two top-fives this season.
Armstrong Atlantic State won the Newberry College Invitational and were third at both the Eat-A-Peach Intercollegiate and their own Pirate Women’s Invite. Sophomore Jenna Birch leads the Peach Belt with a 76.2 stroke average and has been named a PBC Player of the Week this season. She won the Newberry event and has finished in the top five three times. Sophomore Kristen Sammarco won the Tusculum/Kiawah Island Intercollegiate and is sixth in the PBC in stroke average while Kelly Pearce won the Dana Rader.
North Georgia heads to the Peach Belt with a win at their own Spring Invitational. Catalina Olarte was named a PBC Player of the Week after winning that event. She has four other top-ten finishes. Montevallo finished third at the UWG Invitational earlier this week and were second at their own event in the fall. Freshman Ashlee Beck won the UM Fall Inviational and has four top-10s.
The 2012 PBC Championships are free to the public. The tournament will be covered with live scoring through Golfstat, you can follow all the live action here.
For more information about Callaway Gardens including directions and hotel options, please click here.