Alabama Hosting Women's SEC Golf

Who says Alabama and Auburn can't get along? The Southeastern Conference Women's Golf Championships begin Friday in Tuscaloosa with Alabama and Auburn paired together (along with Arkansas) in the first round, and Bama Coach Mic Potter likes that set-up.

"We get along with them really well," Alabama Coach Mic Potter said. "We have played with them all year long and our players are very comfortable together." He pointed out that he is also friends with Auburn Coach Kim Evans.

Potter also put the favorite's cap on the Tigers, even though many consider the Crimson Tide to be the team to beat since the SEC Tournament is being played over Alabama's home course, NorthRiver Yacht Club.

"Auburn has beaten us six times out of seven, so I'd say they are the favorite," Potter said.

Auburn is ranked third in the nation and Alabama seventh. The rest of the field includes Florida (ranked 11th), Tennessee (14), Georgia (16), LSU (19), Vanderbilt (24), South Carolina (26), Arkansas (32), Ole Miss (47), Kentucky (81), and Mississippi State (127).

Play begins off both first and 10th tees at 8:30 a.m. CDT Friday in the three-day tournament on the 6,057-yard, par 71 layout. Alabama has never won the tournament but has been runner-up three times, including last year.

"Today was a good practice round," Potter said on Thursday. "Everyone seems to be hitting the ball pretty well. The nice thing is we know how to get around out here. We know the best places to miss. The greens are at a nice conservative speed, so it is nothing we aren't used to from playing out here all of the time."

He said his team had a fun day and was loose and that he didn't expect the Tide to be tense.

"There are a lot of very good teams in this field considering that the SEC is the deepest conference in the country," Potter said. "Anyone, if it is there week, can play well (and win). We just have to go out and execute to the best of our ability."

Potter said he expects low scores in the tournament. "The course is in perfect condition," he said. "Lies in the fairway allow the women to spin the ball and the greens are manageable. They could have the greens where it would be nearly impossible to score well."

Junior Camilla Lennarth and senior Helena Blomberg led the Tide at last week's Ping/ASU invitational, both recording 2-over-par totals to finish tied for 24th. Lennarth leads UA with a 72.86 stroke average and finished last year's SEC Championship tied for 13th at 7-over-par. Blomberg enters the week averaging 76.21 strokes per round.

Freshman Jennifer Kirby will be participating in her first SEC Championship. The Paris, Ontario, Canada native and Team Canada member finished tied for second place at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic two weeks ago and is second on the squad with a 73.18 scoring average. "Jennifer is probably playing the best right now for us," Potter said.

Sophomore Brooke Pancake ranks third on the team with a 74.14 stroke average and is not far removed from her best finish of the year, a tie for ninth at last month's Tiger/Wave Golf Classic. Pancake was the Tide's top finisher at last year's SEC Championship, placing 10th at 5-over-par en route to being named to the SEC All-Freshman team.

Senior Rhea Nair rounds out Alabama's lineup and enters the tournament averaging 76.74 strokes per round. Nair finished tied for 23rd last year.

All five of Bama's participants have shot in the 60s at NorthRiver with Nair having had the best round, a 64. Still, Potter said, "It's not a great course for all of our players."

Potter said playing at NorthRiver can be an advantage. l"It's a hilly course," he said. "There are places you don't want to have the ball and we know where they are. And we know the greens."

The Crimson Tide will tee off on number 1 Friday at 9:20 a.m. alongside Auburn and Arkansas. Live scoring for the three-day, 54-hole event will be available on Stay tuned to for a complete recap of the action following each day's round.

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