Swanson favored in women's HOF Jun 9, 2012  (7 years ago)

By Randy King
Jun 9, 2012, 19:58

The rising senior at South Carolina has won the women's title two years in a row.

It doesn't take a guru or soothsayer to decipher the odds-on favorites for the 34th Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame women's championship that starts today at Hidden Valley.

There's only one undisputable answer: Meredith Swanson and Roanoke Country Club.

Swanson, who played on the University of South Carolina club that won a regional and finished fifth in the recent NCAA Championship in Franklin, Tenn., will shoot for her third straight and sixth title overall in the 36-hole event.

Thanks in large part to Swanson, RCC has captured the team crown in six of the past seven years, including the past three straight.

Swanson, who in 2004 became the youngest player ever to capture the title at age 13, loves playing the event so much that she made the long haul home Thursday from Columbia, S.C., for the weekend.

"My game is pretty good coming off nationals," said Swanson, who will be a 21-year-old senior next fall at South Carolina. "I've been in Columbia ever since nationals since I'm taking a few summer classes, which also means I'm practicing a lot. Once I'm done here Sunday, it's back down to Columbia for a midterm exam."

First, she wants to ace yet another HOF test. She won the title last year by six shots over Troutville's Lyndsey Hunnell. The rising 16-year-old junior at Lord Botetourt High School put a brief scare into Swanson, closing to within one shot of the lead early in the final round.

Earlier this week, Hunnell was one of four players selected to play on the VSGA Girls Poindexter Cup Team that will face Maryland in the annual matches July 7-8 at Turf Valley Golf Course in Ellicott City, Md.

"It would be awesome to win this one day," said Hunnell, who has playing some of her best golf recently.

Of course, Hunnell, who now plays for Ashley Plantation, won't be the only prime challenger that could end Swanson's HOF dominance. Ever heard of Dot Bolling? Proving she's not done at 66, Bolling even surprised herself when she won her seventh VSGA major title eight days ago in the Women's Senior Stroke Play. Bolling won the crown for a record-matching fourth time when she birdied the first hole of a three-way playoff with Northern Virginia competitors Mimi Hoffman and Shelley Savage.

"Dot is a great player and is definitely capable," said Swanson, who needs three more HOF titles to match Bolling's all-time record of eight. "You always have to keep your eye on her. I heard that she won again and that's awesome."

When asked if she thought she may still be winning tournaments at 66, Swanson laughed and responded: "I would hope so, but I don't even know if I will even be playing then. I will probably be tired of it by then."

Other possible contenders in the 36-hole event that concludes Sunday at Ashley Plantation include: former James Madison player Meg Wise (Hidden Valley), who was fourth last year; 2011 fifth-place finisher Sara Moir (RCC), who plans to play college golf at Washington and Lee this fall; 2002 champion Valeta Pittman of RCC; and 1989 champion and reigning City-County champion Sara Cole (Hanging Rock). Ole Monterey's Sue Smith and Blacksburg's Carin Wollmann also pose threats. Teens Meagan Board and Kristin Hearp of RCC also have exhibited flashes of brilliance in recent months in the junior ranks.

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