GREENVILLE, S.C. – No. 10 Furman will begin its quest to defend the league title Sunday at the 2017 Southern Conference Women's Golf Championship at the par-72, 6,153 yard Country Club of Lexington in Lexington, S.C.
Furman, who won its 15th Southern Conference Championship in 2016, won nine straight SoCon titles from 1994-2002. Last season the Paladins scored a 285 in the second round, the second-best round in tournament history, and placed four players on the All-Southern Conference Team.
The Paladins have produced a league-best 14 individual medalists at past tournaments, including senior Taylor Totland, who won the tournament in 2015 and went on to claim SoCon Player of the Year honors. Paladin junior Alice Chen was honored as the league freshman of the year in 2015 and captured co-player of the year accolades last season. Furman has won the last three freshman of the year awards, with Totland winning in 2014, Chen in 2015, and current sophomore Haylee Harford claiming the award last season.
Furman's lineup for the 2017 championships will include Totland, Chen, Harford, and freshmen Carly Burkhardt and Natalie Srinivasan. The Paladins, who have won three tournament titles in 2016-17 and finished as runner-up in four additional tournaments, boast the best scoring average in the SoCon this season with a team stroke average of 289.2. Furman has finished among the top three teams at eight of nine tournaments this year.
Harford, who landed a spot on both the All-SoCon Team and the SoCon All-Freshman Team in 2016, leads the Paladins and ranks second in the SoCon with a 72.22 stroke average over 27 rounds this season. She ranks 28th nationally, tops among all SoCon players. She tied for individual medalist honors at the Minnesota Invitational, the Lady Puerto Rico Classic, and at the Brickyard Collegiate. Harford has four top-5 finishes and six top-10 finishes in nine tournaments during her sophomore campaign.
Totland, an All-American honorable mention selection in 2015, is second on the Furman team and third in the league with a 72.58 stroke average over 24 rounds this year. A three-time All-SoCon selection, Totland finished 20th at the 2016 NCAA Championships. She recorded a season-best finish of third at the Central District Invitational in February. Totland, who ranks 44th nationally, has finished among the top 10 individuals in four tournaments this season and among the top 20 in seven of eight tournaments.
Chen, a two-time All-SoCon honoree, ranks 50th nationally and is third on the Furman team and fourth in the SoCon with a 72.81 stroke average over 27 rounds during her junior season. She won individual medalist honors at the Central District Invitational, took second place at the Lady Paladin Invitational, and finished in a tie for second at the Clemson Invitational. Chen has placed among the top five in four of nine tournaments this season.
Srinivasan ranks fourth on the Paladin team and fifth in the league with a 73.63 stroke average and has appeared in all 27 rounds for Furman this season. She fired a 66 in the second round of the Cougar Classic, the best round for the Paladins in 2016-17. Srinivasan, who ranks 86th nationally, notched a season-best fifth-place finish at the Central District Invitational and has two top-10 and four top-20 finishes as a rookie this year.
Burkhardt boasts a 73.78 stroke average over 18 rounds this season, ranking sixth on the Furman team and seventh in the SoCon. She has three top-20 finishes, including a season-best 13th-place finish at the Cougar Classic.
The SoCon has four teams ranked among the top 100 in Golfstat's most recent ranking. Furman is the top-ranked league team this season, checking into the Golfstat ratings at No. 10 nationally, while ETSU enters the championship at No. 77. Chattanooga is rated 82nd, while Mercer is ranked 90th. The winner of the SoCon Championship will earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The NCAA field will be announced live on the Golf Channel at 11 a.m. EDT on Thursday, April 27.
Furman will tee off of No. 1 Sunday beginning at 8:50 a.m. in the first round of the 54-hole tournament. Admission to the tournament is free and fans are welcome. Live scoring for the tournament will be available at www.FurmanPaladins.com or at www.BirdieFire.com.
Julie Paré, Furman Sports Information