The Tigers, who finished third at the NCAA East Regional earlier this month, took second place in October at the NCAA preview event on the same course. The Tigers were just one stroke off the pace in that event so Coach Kim Evans says her team feels comfortable playing on the course.
The Auburn lineup features senior Candace Schepperle, junior Cydney Clanton, sophomores Haley Wilson and Patricia Sanz along with freshman Carlie Yadloczky, Auburn's top finisher at the regional. She finished in second place at the event.
Clanton leads the Tigers in scoring average at 71.64 and the 2010 U.S. Curtis Cup team member won the NCAA Preview with three straight rounds of 70 on the par 72, 6,368 yards course designed by Pete Dye. "Cydney has put together an incredible year," Clanton says. "It is a huge honor for her to represent the United States."
Cydney Clanton will be a key player for the Tigers.
Evans says the Grand National Course designed by Robert Trent Jones, one of Auburn's home courses, gives the Tigers a similar look to the Country Club of Landfall course, but notes the greens in North Carolina are much faster.
"What I liked about the course in the fall is it is a balanced course," Evans says. "We have a couple of girls who hit it a long way and we have a couple of girls who play great target golf and then you get someone like Candace who is kind of a mixture of everything. I like to think it sets up well for all five of our players."
Evans says the Tigers had one of their best efforts in their previous trip to the course with Clanton winning the individual title. "That is her home state and she feels real comfortable there," the coach says. "When you have one in the hunt to win it individually, it usually puts your team in good position as well. We like the course and the experience there."
The event will be the final one for four-time All-SEC player Schepperle from Hoover. "You hear of gym rats, she's a range rat," Evans says. "It doesn't matter what day of the week or what the time it is, you can find Candace practicing somewhere. She has led by example."
Evans says she likes the way Yadloczky is playing coming into the tournament and notes the freshman is a good athlete who has the potential to shoot low rounds.
Auburn will be making its 15th appearance in the NCAA Championships. UCLA goes into the tournament ranked number one nationally. Evans says it is tough to predict a favorite because there is a lot of parity around the country this season in women's college golf.
Most collegiate events are 54 holes. Evans says that she believes the fact the nationals are contested over 72 holes is a good thing for her Tigers. "I think we have a tough team, I think we can weather storms," she says. "I think we can weather four days in a row. I like this team. It is a good, sturdy team and it gives us one more day to perform."