February 28, 2011

Golf Hosts American Bank Islander Classic

CORPUS CHRISTI -

The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi golf team opens its Spring 2011 campaign on Monday, Feb. 28, with the American Bank Islander Classic at the Corpus Christi Country Club. Sixteen teams will participate in the competition, including six foes from the Southland Conference.

The squads tee off at 8 a.m. with a shotgun start at the par-72, 6,073-yard course. The Classic will be 54 holes, with all teams playing two rounds on Monday and one round on Tuesday. With her team fighting through several injuries and some personal issues, Head Coach Carol Blackmar sees the event as a good starting point for her club in 2011.

"Our goal is to take each tournament and get better and better," she said, "and if we can get rid of the physical problems we have and the off-course distractions we've had, we should be a pretty strong team by the time April comes and we host our conference tournament. It's going to be a slow build right now. I don't expect us as a team to shoot incredibly low, but we will build and develop toward April."

For the Islanders, longtime number one Ryann White has been passed this week for the top spot by Florida International transfer Nikki Dunn, though Blackmar sees the duo more as 1A and 1B for her team.

"Ryann is going to play in the number two spot for this tournament," she said. "Ryann and Nikki Dunn have been battling it out and Nikki won this round. Ryann had the lower stroke average last year, but Nikki's had a 67 and a 71 in qualifying. It will be interesting to see how Ryann responds to that since she's been number one for so long."

The rest of the Islanders lineup will be Katie Belser at the three, with Cristina Reynoso and Cecilia Jeon rounding out the lineup. Nicole Shea will be participating as an individual at the event, while Lindsay Biehler will miss the Classic due to an injury.

"Number three will be Katie Belser, and this will be her last year because of her academic career," Blackmar said. "She walked on to our team last year and this is her second Islander Classic. She's been steady, but she's had a tough fall off the course, and she's looking forward to going out there and playing for us. Cristina struggled a bit in the fall, but she's gotten through that freshman adjustment period. Lindsay Biehler has been steady in our top five, but she's out with an injury. Cecilia Jeon is struggling with injuries, but she'll be our number five."

This will be the first of four pre-conference tournaments for the Islanders this season, with the campaign culminating at the Southland Conference Golf Championship from Monday, April 18, through Wednesday, April 20. The Islanders will serve as the Championship host at the Corpus Christi Country Club.