Top women’s golf teams converge on Athens for Liz Murphey Classic

By Ethan Burch

The 42nd Annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic is tees off 8 a.m. today at the University of Georgia Golf Course.

The Georgia’s women’s golf team is the first to take the course, pairing with No. 1 Southern California in the tournament’s first group.

There is one qualifying round of stroke play today and according to the tournament’s format, the top eight teams are placed in the “Red” bracket while the remaining eight are placed in the “Black” bracket.

There are two rounds of match play Saturday, followed by one final round Sunday.

Among the field, which includes six top-25 teams and eight top-25 individuals, are Southeastern Conference teams such as No. 7 Alabama, No. 4 Arkansas, Auburn, host Georgia, Mississippi State and Texas A&M. Non-conference competitors include Daytona State, Denver, Georgetown, Indiana, No. 24 Iowa State, No. 22 Michigan State, N.C. State, No. 17 Northwestern, top-ranked Southern California and Troy.

The top-25 individuals competing are No. 3 Kyung Kim of Southern California, No. 4 Stephanie Meadow of Alabama, No. 5 Sophia Popov of Southern California, No. 6 Annie Park of Southern California, No. 10 Gaby Lopez of Arkansas, No. 11 Tonje Daffinrud of Denver, No. 19 Katerina Ruzickova of Texas A&M and No. 24 Marijosse Navarro of Texas A&M.

The course is par 72 ranging for 6,335 yards.

North Carolina won last year’s tourney with an overall team score of 876. Texas A&M’s Mary Michael Maggio earned medalist honors with a three-round score of 213.

The Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic is considered one of the oldest events in women’s intercollegiate sports. LPGA Hall of Famers such as Beth Daniel, Betsy King and Julie Inkster all participated in the tournament, which began in 1973.

The tournament was originally the Georgia Invitational, then became known as the Women’s Southern Intercollegiate Championships from 1977 to 1994.

The tournament was renamed in honor of Liz Murphey in 1995 following a career as a UGA Hall of Fame golf coach and long-time senior woman administrator.

Murphey aided in building the Georgia women’s sports program while holding the SWA position from 1978 to 1996. She was the first National Golf Coaches Association National Coach of the Year in 1984, adding to a long list of honors including 21 team and 18 individual titles from 1978 to 1986.

Murphey died in 2005 following a short illness.

During the last four decades Georgia has won 13 team titles and produced 11 medalists.

Georgia’s Reilley Rankin set the individual tournament-record of 11-under in 1998 with an overall 208. The course was played as a par-73 at that time.

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