Longhorns head to Arizona looking to return to the top

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This weekend’s task at the PING/ASU Invitational would appear to be the Longhorns’ hardest of the spring, but it may be just what No. 31 Texas is looking for before the Big 12 Tournament next month.

The field features 17 teams, all ranked in the top 50, including No. 1 UCLA and four other top 10 teams, yet Texas has reason to keep its head up in Tempe, Ariz. this weekend.

In last year’s event, Texas powered its way to a top five finish, including two individual top 10 finishes from then-sophomore Madison Pressel and then-junior Nicole Vandermade. Pressel held a share of the lead after the first two rounds before finishing fourth overall.

“There’s a couple players that feel they may have left some shots out there last year,” head coach Martha Richards said. “This is a chance to go out there and see if we can be better.”

Following Pressel’s top five finish at the PING/ASU Invitational in 2011, she kept the momentum going, leading Texas to its third Big 12 Championship in school history and winning her first collegiate individual victory. Texas hopes memories of last year’s success can fuel them to a strong finish in 2012.

This spring has not been kind to Texas, which was once ranked in the top 10 nationally. After a sixth-place finish in their opening tournament in Florida, Texas has had to play through rain, shine, lightning and even hail in back-to-back tournaments, leaving putts and unfinished business on the course.

The Longhorns have been led by four different players this season, flexing their depth and experience, yet at the same time exposing their inconsistencies.

“If we just get a little better each day, it’s going to start showing up in the scores,” Richards said. “You just never know when it’s all going to click.”

Texas is looking to send off rival Texas A&M to the SEC with a bitter taste in its mouth.

After Texas defeated the Aggies by a mere three strokes for the team title in the 2011 Big 12 Championship and won the individual and team title at the Aggies’ own tournament in College Station in November, Texas A&M bounced back, besting Texas by 21 strokes in San Diego just two weeks ago. Round four’s bout this weekend should give either team some key momentum heading into next month’s final showdown.

Printed on Friday, March 30, 2012 as: Longhorns head to Arizona looking for turnaround event