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Greensboro hosts heated conference title showdown

Ranked 12th in country, experienced Virginia heads south to test mettle against fellow ACC teams on demanding Sedgefield course

The Virginia women's golf team competes this weekend in the 2010 ACC Championship at the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. Hoping to improve upon last year's fifth-place finishing, the team is looking to bring home the championship this year.

With the golf season beginning in September and ending in May, the No. 13 Cavaliers have been taking swings at making it to the top of the conference for some time now. Thus far, the team has been relatively successful, with four top-10 finishes this season, including a first-place finish at the one-day Tri-Match at Ironwood April 10.

Junior Calle Nielson has been one of the strongest golfers for Virginia with a second- and first-place finish on the season. At the ACC Tournament last season, she placed seventh and had the highest 54-hole score among the Cavaliers.

"She brings a lot of experience to the team," Virginia coach Kim Lewellen said about Nielson's play this season. "When she goes out there and plays, you know she will consistently produce a good score."

The younger players of the team also have contributed throughout the season, with freshman Brittany Altomare most notably scoring a second- and third-place finish for the team during her first season.

But for all of the talent the underclassmen may bring, they still are at a disadvantage when it comes to the distinct setup of the ACC Championship course, which is played on a par-71 rather than the typical par-72. Consequently, the dynamics of the course add to the level of difficulty.

"It is a round top course," Lewellen said, "which usually means the greens can be slightly challenging ... I think it really brings out who is playing well at the time."

For a team that consists mostly of freshmen and sophomores, having a player that has played in the ACC Championship on the same course before can help the younger players.

"The golf course is a tough golf course," Nielson said. "I think it will not only benefit me but also the other players. Having seen the course before really helps a lot, and knowing what it's like playing on a round top course will allow me and the rest of the team to do well."

The championship begins today and will run through Sunday in Greensboro, N.C.