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Furman Women's Golf To Open 2016 Spring Season At Florida State Match-Up

Reona Hirai
Reona Hirai

GREENVILLE, S.C. --  The Furman women's golf team will open the 2016 spring season this weekend at the third annual Florida State Match-Up Tournament at the par 72, 6,265 yard Don Veller Seminole Golf Course in Tallahassee, Fla.   

The 54-hole tournament, which features four teams ranked in the top 25 and seven teams among the top 50 in the latest Golfstat rankings, begins Friday at 8:30 a.m.  Second round play will tee off Saturday at 8:30 a.m., and the tournament will conclude with a shotgun start Sunday at 8 a.m. 

The 33rd-ranked Paladins, the defending Florida State Match-Up Champions, will be joined in the field by Coastal Carolina, #34 Florida State, James Madison, Kansas State, #25 Missouri, #43 South Carolina, #38 SMU, #18 Tennessee, #17 Texas A&M, #19 Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

The twelve teams will tee-off in twosomes, consisting of partners playing together, for the first two rounds and then in a final-round shotgun in threesomes.  The twosomes for this year are: Furman/Coastal Carolina, Florida State/Texas A&M, South Carolina/Virginia, SMU/Kansas State, Missouri/Tennessee, ad Virginia Tech/James Madison.

The Paladins' lineup includes senior Valentina Romero, junior Taylor Totland, sophomores Alice Chen and Reona Hirai, and freshman Haylee Harford.  Sophomore Jacqueline Bendrick will compete as an individual.  Harford led the Paladins with a 73.3 stroke average over 12 rounds during the 2015 fall season after firing a low round of 68 in the second round of the Palmetto Intercollegiate and carding a 70 in the opening round of the Yale Intercollegiate.  

Chen recorded a 73.6 stroke average over nine rounds, while Totland averaged 73.8 over 12 rounds.  Hirai competed in nine rounds for the Paladins, averaging 75.3 strokes per round, while Romero, who saw action in 12 rounds, also posted a 73.0 stroke average.  

Furman won its final two tournaments of the fall, the Yale Intercollegiate and the Palmetto Intercollegiate, and placed second at the Lady Paladin Invitational.  In the second round of the Lady Paladin Invitational, the Paladins posted a 282, the best round in school history.  

"It will be great to get back into competition," said Furman head coach Kelley Hester, who is in her fourth year at the helm of the Paladin program.  "The girls are excited and ready to go.  We will see another great field and look forward to defending our title from 2015."

Last year in her third season with the Paladins, Hester, the 2015 Southern Conference Coach of the Year, led the team to the title at the Southern Conference Championship, Furman's 14th league championship.  Totland, the 2015 Edna Hartness Furman Female Athlete of the Year, won individual medalist honors and was named Southern Conference Player of the Year honors and went on to garner Golfweek All-American honorable mention accolades following post-season play.  Chen, who placed second at the SoCon Championships, was voted the league's freshman of the year.

The Paladins placed a league record five players on the All-Southern Conference team and three on the SoCon All-Freshman squad in 2015.  Totland, Chen, Laura DeMarco, Hirai, and Romero were named All-Southern Conference, while Chen, Hirai, and Jacqueline Bendrick were selected to the SoCon All-Freshman Team.

Admission to this weekend's tournament is free and fans are welcome.  Live tournament scoring will also be available via www.golfstat.com.