BRYAN -- No. 16-ranked Texas A&M and senior Ashley Knoll will defend their titles at the 14th Annual Texas A&M "Mo"Morial Invitational Friday through Sunday at Traditions Golf Club.
The tournament will consist of 18 holes each day for a total of 54 holes.
Plays starts at 8 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Admission is free.
A&M captured its record fifth "Mo"morial title -- but its first since 1998
-- by defeating Arkansas last year in a playoff. Knoll won individual honors
with a tournament-record total of 74-70-74=218.
This year's 15-team field is the strongest in tournament history, with seven
teams ranked among Golf World's top 25. Challenging the Aggies will be No. 2
Arizona State, No. 8 Southern California, No. 9 Oklahoma State, No. 14 UCLA,
No. 17 Denver, No. 24 South Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa State, Kansas
State, Texas-El Paso, Missouri, Tulsa and Princeton.
"This is a great opportunity for us to show the college golf world the
great facilities and golf course we have at Texas A&M," A&M Coach Jeanne
Sutherland said. "It is also a great opportunity for us to show the
Bryan/College Station community the level of competition we see week in and
Southern California, the NCAA runner-up last year, is familiar with the
Traditions course after winning the NCAA Central Regional here last May.
UCLA, Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma State also played in the regional.
Top challengers to Knoll's crown include defending NCAA champion Dewi
Schreefel of Southern California, Arizona State's Anna Nordqvist, Jennifer
Osborn and Azahara Munoz. Nordqvist is No. 4 in Golfweek's latest rankings,
while Osborn is 6th, Knoll is 7th and Munoz is 10th.
Other top 100 players in the field are Southern Cal's Paola Moreno (16),
Oklahoma State's Pernilla Lindberg (17), UCLA's Tiffany Joh (26), Denver's
Stephanie Sherlock (28), UCLA's Hannah Jun (29), Oklahoma State's Sarah
Bradley (44), Oklahoma State's Karin Kinnerud (45), Southern Cal's Catalina
Marin (54), South Carolina's Jenna Pearson (68), Arizona State's Juliana
Murcia (72), UCLA's Ryann O¹Toole (90), Denver's Emily Hoeper (96) and
UCLA's Sydnee Michaels (98).
Joining Knoll in the A&M lineup are freshmen Danielle McVeigh and Ashley
Freeman, sophomore Lauren Johnson and senior Christa Spedding. Seniors
Miranda Orr and Janet DeGroat will compete as individuals.
"The team has improved each week we have played this spring," Sutherland
said. "Our focus has improved and we are playing within our game instead of
forcing shots. Traditions is a tough course that will often lead players to
force shots or focus on what they don't want to do, so this is a perfect
test for us and the things we have been working on."
The Aggies opened the spring with a tie for sixth at the Northrop Grumman
Challenge in Los Angeles, then won the title at the Central District
Invitational in Florida. Spedding was the runner-up in the Los Angeles event
and Knoll captured her record sixth career title in Florida.
"I have been very pleased with our upperclassmen the past two events,"
Sutherland said. "Christa and Ashley took turns leading the team in scoring
and I would love to see both of them have a great tournament in their last
home event. Lauren Johnson has been very steady for us this spring and has
made some big steps with her game. I think she will continue to improve
with each event.
"Our two freshmen are also playing better each week," Sutherland added.
"Danielle McVeigh has had two good tournaments to start the spring
Season and is beginning to understand the importance of her putter and
the extra time she has worked on her putting has really paid off. Ashley
Freeman is settling into this level of play and is a competitor."
The "Mo"morial is named in honor of former A&M standout Monica Welsh
(1978-82), who died in an automobile accident in 1992.