Entering the event with a Top 10 finish in all seven tournaments this season, the Lady Bulldogs have posted back-to-back sub-900 54-hole cards for the first time since the fall of 2005 and have never posted three straight sub-900 tallies. The Lady Dogs are also sporting a 299.86 scoring average, a school record through seven events.
“We are playing very well right now,” third-year MSU head coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. “The girls have really honed in on their process and routine on the course and you can see the results. As well as we are playing though, we still have not reached our maximum potential which makes me excited to see what this team will accomplish growing and moving forward.”
The Briar’s Creek Invitational is a two-day, 54-hole event hosted by the College of Charleston. State has already played the 36-18 format twice this season at the Johnie Imes Invitational (906, 7th) and the Westbrook Invitational (903, 4th). Just a season ago MSU posted a fourth-place, 891 card at the two-day John Kirk/Panther Invitational, its best card under Brown-Lemm.
Ally McDonald headlines MSU’s lineup after earning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors following her fourth-place, 4-over-par 214 in the SunTrust Gator Invitational. It was her third Top 5 finish in the sophomore’s last four events. McDonald’s 72.13 scoring average ranks fourth in the SEC and 13th nationally, while on pace to break the Lady Bulldogs’ all-time single-season average by nearly two strokes.
Freshman Gabi Oubre’ also hopes to keep her hot streak going as she posted her first-career Top 25 finish in the SunTrust Gator Invitational. Carrying the team’s second-best spring scoring average (76.00), the Mobile, Ala., native has posted a 74 or better in three of her previous five rounds.
“Ally and Gabi really stood out in the Gator,” Brown-Lemm said. “That is a pretty tough course and an even tougher field. Ally was her typical self and proved she is one of the top players in the nation and Gabi finally hit a bit of a groove. She is one of the most talented players on our roster and is finally starting to gain confidence to compete with some really good players.”
Rica Tse’s 75.61 season stroke average is only second to McDonald on the MSU squad and is on pace to be State’s eighth-lowest season scoring clip. The sophomore from Auckland, New Zealand, owns a Top 10 and four Top 25’s this season.
Fellow sophomore Elena Warren has turned in the three of the best five tournaments of her career this spring. After narrowly missing a Top 25 finish in the Westbrook Invitational with a career second-best 227, the Austin, Texas, native notched a 233 in the JMU/Eagle Landing Invitational, the fifth-best card in her career. In last weekend’s SunTrust Gator Invitational, Warren turned in a career-best 223, again missing the Top 25 by a single stroke.
The eldest member of the Maroon and White lineup, Mary Langdon Gallagher, is also in the middle of her best semester yet. Her 76.67 average clip is 2.60 strokes better than her career average and is just one event removed from tying a season-best 228 in the JMU/Eagle Landing Invitational.
“I have as much confidence in this lineup top to bottom as I’ve had in any lineup in a while,” Brown-Lemm said. “Rica struggled a bit with her swing in Gainesville but got that fixed in practice. She’s back in her groove and in control of her swing. Elena has been playing very well this spring. It’s exciting to see her finally have confidence in herself on the course and expect to finish in the Top 25 every event. Mary Langdon is also playing well. She just has so much experience on the college level that we know she will manage her game and play like the leader she is.”
The Lady Bulldogs will battle a host of Top 50 teams including No. 23 Notre Dame, No. 27 Penn State, No. 35 Campbell, No. 40 UCF, No. 45 East Carolina and No. 46 Wisconsin. Other teams include Augusta State, Coastal Carolina, College of Charleston, Furman, Georgetown, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Maryland and South Florida.
“I like the opportunities a field like this gives us,” Brown-Lemm said. “If we play the way we have the last couple of weeks, we can knock off a couple of Top 25 teams. I’m excited to see where we end up on the leaderboard if we post the numbers I know we are capable of.”
The Briar’s Creek Invitational tees off Monday with an 8:15 a.m. CST shotgun. Live stats and post-round results will be available through Hailstate.com