Tiger Golf Teams Taking Aim at SEC Titles

Auburn, Ala.--Although both teams are ranked in the Top 10 nationally, Auburn golf coaches Kim Evans and Mike Griffin know that the success of their seasons will be determined by performances in the conference, NCAA regional and NCAA national championship tournaments.

Rounds one of their most important events start on Friday with the men's team traveling east to the Atlantic coast to play in the SEC Men's Golf Championship at the par 70, 6,898-yard Sea Island Golf Club course in Sea Island, Ga., while the women's team travels west to Mississippi to the par 72, 7,210-yard Tunica National Golf Course.

"I think getting off to a good start in round one will help us," says Evans, whose team is ranked as high as third nationally this week. "We were a little shaky at Georgia and Wake (Forest). When you are playing against great teams, it is hard to make up a lot of ground if you get off to a slow start."

Evans says her young team will look to All-SEC redshirt senior Diana Ramage to be the leader in Tunica. "If she can settle in and post that score that will really help us," says Evans. "The main thing for us is consistency and take some pressure off ourselves. Hopefully, we will keep the ball in the fairway and make some putts."

Coach Kim Evans

Even though Auburn is the highest ranked team in the SEC this week, Evans notes that the event is wide open with Georgia ranked fourth, Tennessee eighth, Florida 11th, LSU 12th and Arkansas 18th.

Ramage, a preseason All-American from Fayetteville, Ga., says her Tigers are looking forward to the event. "I haven't played the course, but I have heard it is long and requires you to make a lot of shots. I like to play a hard golf course because our team has always been good ball strikers. It sets us apart from the teams who are always hitting it short and straight. I like courses where you really have to make shots."

Diana Ramage putts for the Tigers.

While the women's team is playing 54 holes on the banks of the Mississippi river, the men will return to a course where they have played well over the years in the salt marshes along the Georgia coast.

"We are excited about playing at Sea Island," says Griffin, whose team is ranked sixth nationally this week after winning its own Billy Hitchcock Invitational last weekend at the Auburn University Club course. "The course is tight and it is important to hit the ball straight and keep it in the fairway, which is similar to the Auburn University Club. That tournament win should help us going into the SEC Championship."

Georgia, at third, is the top-ranked team competing at Sea Island. Florida is sixth, Tennessee is 15th, Kentucky is 17th, South Carolina 18th and Alabama is 25th.

Senior All-American Lee Williams will be counted on to lead the Auburn charge. The Alexander City native says the Tigers go into the competition playing good golf.

"Winning the Hitchcock on a course that is much tougher than the Saugahatchee course (former home of the Hitchcock) should give us a lot of momentum going into the conference championship," Williams says. "I think our team is playing really well."

Coach Mike Griffin

Griffin will take a veteran group to Sea Island with senior Tyler McKeever from Auburn, junior Stuart Moore from Gainesville, Ga., senior Matthew Myers from Auburn and senior Will Claxton from Swainsboro, Ga., in the lineup. The top four scores are counted for each of the three rounds at the event that runs through Sunday.

Last year Georgia won the event at Sea Island with a total of 843, one shot ahead of Florida and 16 ahead of third place Auburn.

Joining Ramage in the lineup for the women's team will be junior Maria Martinez from Maracaibo, Venezuela, sophomore Nicole Hage from Coral Springs, Fla., freshman Margaret Shirley from Roswell, Ga., and sophomore Jessica Lovell from Hoover. Last year the Tigers finished at 881 to tie host LSU for second place at the SEC Tournament, six shots off the pace set by Vanderbilt.

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