GREENVILLE, S.C. – Furman, which is ranked 26th in this week's GolfStat ratings, will begin its quest to defend the league title Sunday at the 2019 Southern Conference Women's Golf Championship at the par-72, 6,105 yard Moss Creek Golf Club's South Course on Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Furman, which captured its 17th Southern Conference Championship and fourth-straight title in 2018, won nine straight SoCon titles from 1994-2002. Last season the Paladins scored a 34-stroke win over runner-up Chattanooga, and placed five players on the All-Southern Conference Team.
The Paladins have produced a league-best 16 individual medalists at past tournaments, including junior Natalie Srinivasan, who won the tournament in 2017 and went on to claim SoCon Freshman of the Year honors, and Reona Hirai, who captured the championship last season. Furman has won four out of the last five freshman of the year awards, with Taylor Totland winning in 2014, Alice Chen in 2015, current senior Haylee Harford claiming the award in 2016, and Srinivasan earning the honor in 2017.
"We are very excited to play in the SoCon Championship this week," said Paladin head coach Jeff Hull, who was chosen the 2017 and 2018 SoCon Coach of the Year. "The team has had a great year playing against the best competition in the country, so I feel like we are ready to defend our title. This will be Haylee and Jacqueline's last SoCon Championship, so we want to send them off with another ring."
Furman's lineup for the 2019 championships will include Harford, Srinivasan, senior Jacqueline Bendrick, sophomore Madison Moosa, and freshman Sarah-Eve Rhéaume. The Paladins, who won the Lady Paladin Invitational in September, boast the best scoring average in the SoCon this season with a team stroke average of 294.3.
Harford, who captured her third-consecutive all-conference award in 2018, ranks 39th nationally with a SoCon and Paladin-best 72.5 stroke average over 23 rounds. She finished in a tie for seventh at the Augusta National Women's Amateur last weekend and has been named to the 2019 Arnold Palmer Cup Team. Harford recorded three top-8 finishes in four fall tournaments and won individual medalist honors with a score of nine-under at the Lady Paladin Invitational in September.
A member of the WGCA All-American second team 2017, Harford was selected to the Golfweek All-America third team as a sophomore then earned All-American honorable mention accolades from the publication as a junior. She finished the 2017-18 season ranked 53rd nationally after placing second in the SoCon with a 73.03 stroke average over 36 rounds. Harford finished among the top 10 individuals in five tournaments and among the top 20 in seven of 11 tournaments last season.
Srinivasan, who finished in a tie for 17th at last week's Augusta National Women's Amateur, ranks 56th nationally and is second in the league and on the Paladin team with a 72.7 stroke average over 23 rounds. She tied for third at both the Cougar Classic and the Lady Paladin Invitational in the fall and tied for fourth at the Briar's Creek Invitational in March.
Srinivasan, who competed in the 2017 U.S. Women's Open, earned a WGCA All-America honorable mention citation and claimed Golfweek third team All-America honors during her sophomore campaign in 2017-18. She tied the Furman low-round record at the time with a 65 in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA Tallahassee Regional, where she went on to finish third. The 2018 Southern Conference Player of the Year, Srinivasan concluded the season ranked 26th nationally after leading Furman with a 72.36 stroke average over 36 rounds last year, the second-best single season stroke average ever for a Paladin women's golfer.
Bendrick, who hails from Mercer Island, Wash., captured her first all-conference citation in 2018 after scoring five top-10 finishes, including a career-best seventh-place finish at the Clemson Invitational and a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Tallahassee Regional. The winner of the 2018 WGCA Division I Kim Moore Spirit Award and a 2018 Academic All-District selection, she ranks third on the Paladin team and fifth in the SoCon with a 74.0 stroke average over 23 round this season. Bendrick won the league's 2018 Pinnacle Award, which is given annually to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA on the championship-winning team.
A native of Charlotte, N.C., Moosa is fourth among the Paladin competitors and 13th in the SoCon with a 75.5 stroke average over 18 rounds. She tied for 12th at the Lady Paladin Invitational and finished in a tie for 26th at the Briar's Creek Invitational. Rhéaume, who hails from Lac-Delage, Canada, entered the Furman lineup this spring and holds a 76.2 stroke average over six rounds.
The SoCon has four teams ranked among the top 100 in Golfstat's most recent ranking. Furman is the top-ranked league team this season, checking into the Golfstat ratings at No. 26 nationally, while Mercer enters the championship at No. 63. ETSU is rated 73rd, and Chattanooga is 91st.
The winner of the SoCon Championship will earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The NCAA field will be announced live on the Golf Channel at 5:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 24.
Furman will tee off of No. 1 Sunday beginning at 8:50 a.m. in the first round of the 54-hole tournament. The Paladins will play in a group with Mercer and ETSU. Admission to the tournament is free and fans are welcome. Live scoring for the tournament will be available at http://www.FurmanPaladins.com or at http://www.golfstat.com.
Julie Paré, Furman Sports Information