The Daily Gamecock

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Dambaugh leads gamecocks to SEC women's golf championship weekend

South Carolina’s No. 2 women’s golf team travels to compete in the SEC Championships this weekend with its first tee off early Friday.

As the SEC continues to make progress as a women’s golf conference, South Carolina’s women’s golf team makes headway as a top contender.

Heading into the postseason, the team will make an appearance at the conference championships at the Greystone Golf and Country Club in Hoover, Alabama, where they'll tee off against four of the nation's top 10 teams and eight of the top 25 individuals.

In the Golfstat Relative Rankings released this week, South Carolina ranked as No.2 with a winning percent of 76.7 percent behind only the Southern California Trojans with a winning percent of 70.3 percent.

Already having played every SEC team in the regular season, the Gamecocks seem relaxed as they prepare for the upcoming weekend. Head coach Kalen Anderson knows her team is ready for the competition ahead and knows her team will perform the way they have all season.

“You just have to keep doing your thing out there," Anderson said. "You can't treat this tournament any more special than the rest."

The Gamecocks have been on top of their game this year, never falling below top five and taking the top spot in the fall’s Golfstat and Golfweek/Sagarin rankings for the first time in school history. And the team has had its share of tough competition this year with the sixth toughest schedule, according to the Golfstat, and faced a highly competitive field last weekend at the PING/ASU Invitational.

The team tied for fourth, with sophomore and SEC golfer of the week Katelyn Dambaugh placing fifth and senior Justine Dreher tying for tenth. The tournament featured five of the top ten teams and fifteen top individuals.

Dreher has seniority this week as she enters her fourth SEC tournament at the No. 2 slot in the lineup behind Dambuagh at top spot and followed by junior Sarah Schmelzel, sophomore Jia Xin Yang and junior Mary Fran Hillow, respectively.

“Justine has been such a leader for our program on and off the golf course,” Anderson said. “This is the time of year where she usually shines. She needs to keep doing her job, and she is going to be a great confidence and comfort for the rest of the team.”

After coming in as runner up at last years’ SEC, 11 strokes behind Vanderbilt, South Carolina heads into tomorrow prepared for anything, including an unfortunate weather forecast.

After the SEC Championship, all that’s left for the Gamecocks is to await selection on April 27 for the NCAA Regionals.

“We have to be very patient ... Adversity is something we’ve had to deal with all year long, and we’ve trained for it,” Anderson said. “Everybody has to play in, and I think we have a tough group that deals with adversity well.”