CSU set for spring opener at Edwin Watts/Kiawah Island Spring Classic

CSU set for spring opener at Edwin Watts/Kiawah Island Spring Classic

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern tees off its spring season Sunday-Tuesday at the Edwin Watts/Kiawah Island Spring Classic. Play in the 43-team tournament, billed as the largest in the country, begins Sunday morning at Kiawah's Osprey Point and Oak Point courses. CSU is slated to start its first round Sunday at 10:54 a.m.

CSU Lineup: No. 1 Hayley McNeill, No. 2 Shelby Thompson, No. 3 Emelie Flink, No. 4 Hannah Barger, No. 5 Natthakan Teeratrakul

Field: Bethune-Cookman, Boston University, Bucknell, Charleston Southern, Chattanooga, The Citadel, Coastal Carolina, College of Charleston, Delaware, East Tennessee State, Elon, Fairleigh Dickinson, Georgia Southern, High Point, Hampton, Hofstra, Indiana State, Jacksonville, Jacksonville State, James Madison, Lipscomb, Longwood, Loyola Chicago, Marshall, Murray State, North Florida, UNC Asheville, UNCG, Omaha, Oral Roberts, Presbyterian, Richmond, Samford, SCAD, South Alabama, Southern Miss, St. John's, Stetson, Tennessee Tech, Towson, USC Upstate, William & Mary and Wofford

Course: Osprey Point – Kiawah Island Golf Resort – Kiawah Island, S.C. – Par 72 – 5,964 yards

Oak Point – Kiawah Island Golf Resort – Kiawah Island, S.C. – Par 72 – 5,941 yards

Live Scoring: www.Golfstat.com

Tee Times: Sunday's First Round – Tee times off No. 1 and No. 10 from 9:15 a.m. - Noon

Monday's Second Round – Tee times off No. 1 and No. 10 from 9:15 a.m. - Noon

Tuesday's Final Round – 8:45 a.m. Shotgun Start (Top-22 teams at Osprey Point; 23-43 in Flight Championship at Oak Point

Following an excellent fall campaign, head coach Matt Cram-Smith is eager to see his veteran squad set its sights on continued improvement building toward the Big South Conference Championship, April 17-19.

"I'm just really looking for the girls to play closer to their potential," Cram-Smith said. "Three good days is our main goal. There's some really good teams in the field and I'll be eager to see how we stack up against them."

CSU highlighted its fall slate with a third-place finish in its home event, a title they challenge for into the final back nine. The Bucs also recorded top-ten showings at the East Carolina Lady Pirate Invitational (7th) and the Pinehurst Challenge Invitational.

"The Big South (Championship), it's a little bit of ways away but every tournament in the spring is important to keep that ranking up," Cram-Smith said. "Time flies. Before you know it, we'll be to conference. Getting the mental game better, improving the short game will be big for us. We've got so much talent that if we're not competing for the conference championship, then we're doing something wrong. That's our goal. Hopefully we can create some momentum throughout the spring."

Hayley McNeill earned the No. 1 spot in the Bucs' rotation thanks to a stellar run through qualifying rounds. McNeill, a junior, is the first player in Cram-Smith's tenure to finish under par through qualifying.

"She's making some putts and has been hitting it really well," Cram-Smith said. "She's putting the ball in the fairway and getting herself in good spots which takes the stress level down a little bit. It all comes down to putting with her, and she's playing great right now."

Shelby Thompson posted three top-ten finishes and two top-five's in the fall, and is ready to cement her place as one of the Big South's top players.

"I've seen a lot of fight from her in qualifying," Cram-Smith said. "She got off to a really bad start in qualifying but bounced back with a 74. In the past, she would have turned that round into a higher number but she's grown in her ability to manage the round. She's been working really hard on her swing. Shelby's putting in the hours and showing a lot of maturity."

A deep Bucs' lineup will also be playing in familiar territory, as they held qualifying rounds on both Osprey and Oak Point. The event is the first of five leading up to the conference championship. CSU will next take part in the University of North Florida Collegiate, March 6-7.