BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - WKU Women's Golf hits the road for the first of ten regular season tournaments this weekend when the Lady Toppers travel to Gadsden, Alabama for the Chris Banister Gamecock Classic hosted by Jacksonville State University at Robert Trent Jones' Silver Lakes Golf Course.
Fourth year head coach Ron Burchett returns five letterwinners from the 2011-2012 squad and welcomes three newcomers for 2012-2013. The Lady Toppers have posted two top-three finishes in their opening tournament of the fall season in two of the last three seasons.
"The team is really competing well (in the qualifying rounds)," said Burchett. "It is good to get out of the gate in a positive way because you can build on that momentum throughout the season."
Sophomore April Butler (Paducah, Kentucky) was the Lady Toppers leader in qualifying heading into the Chris Banister Gamecock Classic and will lead a group of five players participating in the field. Butler's qualifying scores were more than five strokes better than her 2011-2012 average.
"I am still not totally happy with my scores," said Butler. "But it has improved alot since last year. I worked alot over the summer on the short game and getting a better mental attitude, such as bouncing back from a bad hole. That has helped going into qualifying... It has been a long three or four months since (the conference tournament) so I am excited to get back in that type of atmosphere."
Butler will be joined on the course by Dawn Wientjes, Michael Bordeianu, Ellior Haag and Kate Larimore.
Senior Dawn Wientjes (Metropolis, Illinois) played in nine tournaments a year ago, the most among the five returning players, while posting an 80.91 average.
Freshman Michaela Bordeianu and Ellinor Haag are the first international players in the history of the WKU Women's Golf program and will make their tournament debuts this weekend.
Sophomore Kate Larimore (Greensburg, Kentucky) fills in the final slot among the WKU entries.
The Robert Trent Jones' Silver Lakes is part of the award-winning Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and the home of Jacksonville State University Golf. The course is located on the edge of the Talladega National Forest between Anniston and Gadsden, Silver Lakes features 27 holes of championship golf and a nine-hole short course.
"(We are playing) a really nice course. It is tight with alot of elevated greens. So we have to hit some high shots in there to get it to stop close (to the hole). We have some really good ball strikers that are going to this tournament so I am feeling pretty confident."
Last year's rain-shortened event was won by Samford, who shot a 294 in the opening round. Host Jacksonville State was second while Lamar finished third. Both the second and third round were rained-out.
In the Lady Toppers' last appearance in the Chris Banister Gamecock Classic in the fall of 2008, WKU finished with a three-day total of 944 (309-310-325), good for seventh place. JoAnna Smith paced the Lady Toppers at 230 (75-76-79) to finish in a tie for 16th.
For complete coverage of WKU Golf, visit the official website of WKU Athletics at www.wkusports.com.