New test lies ahead of Eagles at inaugural Battle at Hilton Head

New test lies ahead of Eagles at inaugural Battle at Hilton Head

VIDEO: Suzanne Strudwick Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – With a program-record four-straight top three finishes on its resume this season, Carson-Newman hits the road to the Palmetto State for the first-ever Battle at Hilton Head on Monday and Tuesday from the Palmetto Dunes Resort.

The Eagles tied for second at the Spring Kickoff Intercollegiate nearly two weeks ago, sitting 20 shots out of first. Their finish was spearheaded by solid outings from Rachel Watts (Newport, Tenn.) and Maeve Cummins (Waringstown, Northern Ireland). They were the only two Eagles to finish in the top 10 of the field.

"Maeve and Rachel really differentiated themselves," Carson-Newman coach Suzanne Strudwick said. "We've got a little different lineup -- some in, some out – and that's a testament to our team, that we do have depth. I'm confident in the change, we'll be just as competitive as we were with the previous team.

"But we need to do that now, to give everybody a go in competition because if there are definite changes in the lineup, we need to be ready and they need to have played enough heading into conference."

Cummins moves up to the top spot this week for Carson-Newman after serving as the second-seed in the spring-opener. The freshman used a five-over 149 at the Kickoff to boost her season scoring average to 76.7, taking part in all 11 of the team's rounds this season.

Watts moves down to the No. 2 slot for the Eagles after leading the way in the last event. She recorded the lowest round of her career with a 70 in the first round of action at the Kickoff. Her opening round paired with a 77 in the final round also gave her a career-low 36-hole score of 147.

Matilda Frövenholt (Öjersjö, Sweden) will make her spring debut for the Orange and Blue in the tournament. This will be her first travel team appearance since the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate in March 2018.

In her last appearance with the team, Frövenholt fired off a 158 as an individual at the Jekyll-O-Lantern Intercollegiate. The sophomore holds a 78.0 scoring average heading into this week.

After a 23-over performance to start the second half of the season, Reagan Kinnie (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) will be looking to make an improvement in her fourth-event with the main travel team. Through 10 rounds of action, she possesses a 77.1 scoring average. She will hold down the fourth-spot for C-N.

Rounding out the team is Taylor Hayes (Lake Ozark, Mo.). She faced the most struggles in a single round of play in her entire career at the Kickoff. The senior shot an 88 on the final day of the event, marking a career-high round score.

Allie Fletcher (Cumming, Ga.) will make the trip as an individual, marking her first event appearance since the season-opener at the UINDY Fall Invitational. In that tournament, the junior finished at 21-over with a 237 total through three rounds.

This is the inaugural year for the event that is co-hosted by Barton and Lincoln Memorial, marking the third-straight event for the Eagles that is put on by the Railsplitters. The tournament also marks C-N's first event in Hilton Head since the fall of 2013. For this team, the par 72, 5,934 yard course it faces will present a new challenge.

"Palmetto Dunes, the Robert Trent Jones layout, is brand new for us," Strudwick said. "I've never played it although I've visited Hilton Head quite a few times. It's a championship-quality golf course. It's a seaside course so Maeve, our girl from Ireland, should feel right at home."

Aside from LMU and Carson-Newman four other conference teams will be present at the event, joined by Anderson, Tusculum, Queens and Lenoir-Rhyne. In total, 21 teams will be appearing in the event.

"It's very important (to play all of these SAC teams early in the spring) because not only for us to just show either what we need to work on and where we are but also kind of signals to the other teams, hey, we're this much ahead of you or we're right there and we need to do a little bit of work," Strudwick said. "I love it. I think for the girls coming in, this is going to be the largest field they're going to play against all year."

Three of Golfstat's top 25 teams appear in the lineup with No. 16 Florida Tech, No. 22 Anderson and No. 24 Lenoir-Rhyne. Florida Tech also landed at No. 15 in the latest Women's Golf Coaches Association polls along with No. 24 Missouri-St. Louis and No. 25 Lenoir-Rhyne.

Each day of the tournament will consist of a single round of action kicked off by a shotgun start. Hole-by-hole live scoring available through BirdieFire.