March 18, 2016
By Chris Masters
Dates: March 20-22, 2016
Format: 54 holes (18 holes Sunday-Tuesday)
Tee Times: 9:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. CT each day (split-tee starts on Sunday-Monday; shotgun start Tuesday)
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Course (Par/Yardage): University Club (par 72/6,237 yards)
Tournament Field (in order of latest Golfstat ranking): Duke (3), Arkansas (4), Tennessee (18), Houston (25), Notre Dame (29), North Carolina State (33), North Carolina (41), Tulane (45), LSU (50), Oklahoma (52), Auburn (56), Wake Forest (58), Mississippi State (61), Denver (71), UNCW (74), Kentucky (82) and Ole Miss (110).
Notre Dame Lineup (2015-16 stroke average): Talia Campbell (72.65), Emma Albrecht (73.15), Maddie Rose Hamilton (74.35), Isabella DiLisio (72.90), Jordan Ferreira (74.80)
Live Scoring: Golfstat.com
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- For the better part of the past decade, the University of Notre Dame women's golf team has maintained one of the highest combined grade-point averages of any Fighting Irish program, so it's no surprise the Notre Dame players are familiar with taking tests.
However, the midterm the Fighting Irish will face this weekend will be one they take with their clubs, as Notre Dame travels to the Louisiana bayou for the LSU Tiger Classic, which tees off Sunday at the University Club (par 72/6,237 yards) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The Fighting Irish are set to play the third of four regular-season tournaments this spring, all of which are designed to prepare them for postseason competition, which is now less than a month away. Notre Dame also will be tested in three unique ways as it prepares for the LSU Tiger Classic.
From the outset, this will be the second tournament in less than 10 days for the Fighting Irish, following on the heels of a fourth-place finish at the Clover Cup on March 13 in Mesa, Arizona. It's the third time this year that Notre Dame has played two tournaments in a 10-day period -- the Fighting Irish placed fifth at Oklahoma's Schooner Fall Classic on Sept. 19-21 (after winning Michigan State's Mary Fossum Invitational a week earlier) and took second at the UNCW Landfall Tradition on Oct. 23-25 (following a seventh-place outing at the Louisville Cardinal Cup only days prior as part of the team's two-event fall break trip).
Notre Dame has the added challenge of extensive travel in a brief time span. The Fighting Irish made the 1,800-mile return trip to South Bend from the dry desert climate of Arizona on Monday (following an unexpected flight cancellation on Sunday), then hopped back on a plane Friday for the 1,000-mile journey south to the storm-drenched wetlands of southeastern Louisiana, not far from both the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain.
Perhaps the biggest test for Notre Dame will be the competition in the LSU Tiger Classic, which features a 17-team field that includes four Golfstat Top 25 teams (led by No. 3 Duke and No. 4 Arkansas) and nine top-50 teams (notably the No. 29 Fighting Irish).
What's more, Notre Dame will have a chance to evaluate its progress against four other Atlantic Coast Conference teams that will compete this weekend at LSU. In addition to Duke, No. 33 N.C. State, No. 41 North Carolina and No. 58 Wake Forest will join the Fighting Irish in carrying the ACC banner onto the University Club course, which will be one of four NCAA regional sites this May.
"This event will be a good measure of where are right now as a team and what we need to do moving forward to get better heading into a busy month," Notre Dame head coach Susan Holt said. "The takeaway from the Clover Cup is that we need to capitalize on more of our scoring opportunities. We are not converting enough of our good shots into birdies. We had more big numbers at the Clover Cup than any other event this year, so we need to manage the courses better moving forward.
"With the events remaining, we need to be ready to post low rounds every day to contend," she added. "We have not done that yet this spring. If we don't do it, we open ourselves up for some teams to beat us that should not."
One Fighting Irish player who has been posted low rounds not only this season but throughout her career is senior captain Talia Campbell (Dallas, Texas/Ursuline Academy), who once again leads off the Notre Dame lineup this weekend. She is coming off a ninth-place finish at the Clover Cup (her fourth top-10 outing of the year) and sports a career-low (and team-best) 72.65 stroke average this season. Campbell has been particularly sharp this spring with a 71.67 average and a pair of ninth-place showings while carding four of six rounds at par or lower.
Consistency has been the hallmark for freshman Emma Albrecht (Ormond Beach, Fla./Father Lopez) this season. The Fighting Irish rookie has seen all 14 of her rounds as a starter count to the team score and she has lowered her career 54-hole scoring mark in each of her last four tournaments. Albrecht now stands third on the team with a 73.15 stroke average and she is second on the squad with six rounds under par.
Albrecht's classmate, Maddie Rose Hamilton (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) is beginning to show the on-course strength that earned her an invitation to the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Wyndham Cup last summer. Hamilton owns a 74.35 stroke average this season and has finished in the top 20 four times, including two of her last three tournaments. She's coming off a 17th-place tie at the Clover Cup, where she closed with a final-round 69, including birdies on her last two holes.
The third member of Notre Dame's third-ranked freshman class is Isabella DiLisio (Hatfield, Pa./Mount Saint Joseph Academy), who is second on the team with a 72.90 stroke average this year and a team-high eight rounds under par. However, DiLisio will be seeking to rebound from a tough 32nd-place tie at the Clover Cup, where she opened well with a 71, but battled a nagging back injury during her final two rounds (79-76).
Junior Jordan Ferreira (University Place, Wash./Bellarmine Prep) shared 32nd place with DiLisio out in Arizona in her return to the lineup after a one-tournament absence (she competed as an individual at the Westbrook Spring Invitational). Ferreira has compiled a 74.80 stroke average this season and has three top-25 showings to her credit, including a career high-tying 10th-place finish at Nebraska's Chip-N Club Invitational back in October.
"I've been really pleased with Talia's steady play so far this spring, while Emma has been really solid posting some low rounds and Maddie has shot some low rounds, which is great to see as well," Holt said. "Isabella and Jordan are capable of going low and I look for them to put themselves in position to post some low rounds, too."
LSU will provide live scoring of the Tiger Classic through the Golfstat web site (Golfstat.com), with in-progress updates also provided through the Fighting Irish women's golf Twitter feed (@NDwomensGolf).
For more information on the Notre Dame women's golf program, visit the women's golf page of the official Fighting Irish athletics web site (UND.com/ndwomensgolf), sign up to follow the Notre Dame women's golf Twitter feed (@NDwomensGolf) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
Chris Masters, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2001 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women's golf and women's basketball programs. A native of San Francisco, California, Masters is a 1996 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, earned his master's degree from Kansas State University in 1998, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).