The No. 13-ranked Georgia women’s golf team will host a large number of the country’s top groups and players this end of the week for the 49th Annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic. The competition jump starts at 9:30 a.m. Friday-Sunday at the University of Georgia Golf Course.
Admission is free and there are no restrictions on the quantity of observers permitted.
“I’m most excited for our team and their families and friends,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “I think our team does a really good job of supporting other teams at Georgia. They love going to events and cheering for their peers. Now it’s a chance for them to experience that, with people clapping and barking for them when they make birdies.”
Eight of the best 25 teams in the most recent Golfstat rankings are highlighted in the field – No. 1 South Carolina, No. 4 LSU, No. 6 Ole Miss, No. 10 Southern Cal, No. 12 Auburn, the No. 13 Bulldogs, No. 16 Arkansas, No. 19 Alabama and No. 22 Florida. Likewise contending are Charleston, Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
“We want to win,” Brewer said. “It’s our home event on our home golf course. That’s pressure, but we want to be in contention on the final day. That’s our goal at every tournament. It’s getting close to the end of the season, and we need to start to be playing our best golf. Why not do that at home on a golf course you’re comfortable with?”
Independently, 28 golf players from the contending groups additionally have been invited to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur on March 30-April 3, including Georgia’s Caterina Don, Isabella Holpfer and Candice Mahé.
“I think you’d be hard pressed to find an event with a higher quality field,” Brewer said. “We could have 28 golfers competing in the Liz Murphey who are also playing in the Augusta in a couple of weeks. Over a third of the competitors here are competing in Augusta too. This is a great opportunity to showcase the best golfers in our game on our own championship golf course.”
Each of the 10 of Georgia’s golf players will contend in the competition as two separate groups. Jenny Bae, Don, Caroline Craig, Jo Hua Hung and Céleste Dao will contain a “red” group, while Mahé, Holpfer, Gabriela Coello, Alison Crenshaw and Zoë Walker will frame a “dark” group.
“We’re fortunate to have an event like the Liz Murphey to be able to showcase our entire team,” Brewer said. “We are a very deep team. Some times, it’s hard to get the right five competing. This weekend gives everyone an equally opportunity to play under tournament conditions. To me, you want every golfer with an equal chance to compete for the individual crown. This weekend, everyone on our roster has that chance.”
The UGA golf course has a long association with women’s college golf. In addition to the Liz Murphey, the course has hosted the national championships five times, doing so in 1971, 1981, 1983, 1993 and 2013.
“For me, playing on our home course is fun,” Hung said. “We can see a lot of UGA supporters who will cheer for us and some even bark for us when we get birdies. That’s always fun and exciting. The whole team has been working so hard. Recently, we’ve focused on our short game because we’ve traveled a lot and played on a lot of different types of grass. So we’ve spent a lot of time around the greens, working on chip and putt. Myself, in tournaments, I just try to play my own game and focus shot by shot.”
“I think UGA is a really tricky golf course,” Don said. “The greens are really hard. Some times you don’t get the right read, and I’ve been playing on those greens for two years now. I feel like you have to respect the golf course. There are some holes where you can’t push yourself. You just have to get a par and go. You have a lot of holes where you have a good chance to make birdie. It all depends on the wind and other conditions. You have to be a good player overall to score at this golf course.”
COVID Safety Rules
While unlimited spectators will be welcome at the tournament, several guidelines listed below are in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.
• Spectators will be required to keep a safe distance of more than 6 feet from competitors and coaches at all times.
• Fans will be required to wear masks within all golf course buildings and also around the course when social distancing can not be observed.
• Spectators will be required to wear masks at all times around the tee boxes at holes No. 1 and No. 10 and the greens on holes No. 9 and No. 18.
• The area around the aforementioned tees and greens will be roped off and all spectators will be required to remain on the paved cart paths or beyond in those areas.
• The number of patrons allowed into the clubhouse’s snack bar and restroom facilities will be monitored.
“A year ago today I left Georgia for COVID so it’s really exciting to be able to be here and play,” Don said. “Playing at home is different. We know the golf course. We’ve played it enough. We’re really excited to go out and show what we’ve got.”