Rebels finish 14th in Birmingham
Rebels sit in 14th after 36 holes
Ole Miss in 14th after rain soaked first round
Rebels look to continue momentum in Birmingham
Backstrom, Redding, Schiavone Earn Highest Academic Honor at University
When head coach Michele Drinkard took over the Ole Miss program in the summer of 2007, she was charged with the task of rebuilding a program that had not seen much success since its last NCAA appearance in 2004. The Rebels had been a program with tournament titles and four previous NCAA Regional appearances. But the four seasons prior to Drinkard's arrival saw the team struggle to last place finishes in the SEC and no NCAA appearances. It didn't take her long to ignite a fire under the program.
ON THE RISE
In Drinkard's sixth season as head coach of the Rebels, she helped lead them to their eighth postseason appearence at the East Regional in Auburn, Ala. This was the Rebels fifth straight postseason appearence.
In the 2011-12 season, the Rebels boasted an individual winner, as Natalie Gleadall captured the Cougar Classic, and qualified for the NCAA East Regional. Four members of the team were named NGCA All-American Scholar-Athletes, and the Rebels tied with South Carolina for the most selections in the SEC.
The Rise of the program continued in 2010, with the team's second straight NCAA appearance. The Rebels went into the final day of play at the regional with a chance to advance to the NCAA Finals for the first time ever.
Individually, Sara Grantham earned All-SEC second team honors, becoming the second player under Drinkard to earn All-conference honors. Ole Miss continued its academic prowess under Drinkard, as four players earned NGCA All-American Scholar accolades. The Rebels tied with South Carolina for the most selections in the SEC.
In 2009, Drinkard led the Rebels to their best finish in the SEC (7th) since 1999 and the program's first tournament title (Johnie Imes) since 2004.
The Rebels earned additional top-five finishes at the Mercedes Benz, The Derby, the Kiawah Island Intercollegiate and the Rebel Intercollegiate. The team's 881 total at the Mercedes Benz is the lowest three-round total in school history.
Dori Carter became the first player in the history of the program to earn All-SEC first team honors multiple times and also earned All-America honors for the second year in a row. Carter became the first individual winner since 1999, when she captured the Rebel Intercollegiate.
REBUILDING A PROGRAM
Drinkard has worked tirelessly to put the Rebels back in contention in the SEC and for postseason play, and in her first season the team took small steps in that direction.
Dori Carter became the first All-American in the history of the program, as well as the first All-SEC first team honoree since 1999. Carter participated in the NCAA East Regional and ended the year ranked No. 24 in the nation.
The Rebels lowered their stroke average from the 2007 season by more than two strokes , and earned top-five finishes at the Suntrust Lady Gator Invitational and the Crimson Tide Classic. In fact, the team's total of 892 at the Lady Gator equaled the program's second lowest 54-hole total in school history.
SUCCESS OFF THE COURSE
While at Birmingham Southern, Drinkard coached the Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2006 and three of her players earned NGCA All-American Scholar honors.
PLAYERS ACHIEVE SUCCESS AFTER OLE MISS
In 2013 ex Rebel Haley Millsap became just the third woman's golfer from Ole Miss to earn her LPGA tour card, the second under coach Drinkard. Millsap, who was a member of the woman's golf team from 2009 to 2012, recorded eight top-20, and two top-10 finishes while at Ole Miss.
Natalie Gleadall, the last Rebel to receive an individual tournament title, joined fellow Ole Miss alumni Nikki Hadd-Gray on the Symetra Tour in 2013. Gleadall, who played for the Rebels from 2010 to 2012, posted five top 5 finishes in her career in Oxford, including the individual title at the Cougar Classic during the 2010-2011 season.
COACHING CAREER TAKES OFF
"I am extremely excited to be a part of the Ole Miss family," said Drinkard, upon her hiring. "It's a school with a great academic and athletics tradition. I am looking forward to bringing the women's golf program to national prominence."
The two-time Big South Coach of the Year directed the Panthers to their most successful season ever in 2006 as the team claimed the Big South Conference Championship and a trip to the NCAA Central Regional, both firsts for the program. Drinkard coached the Big South Player of the Year and four members were named to the All-Big South team.
Drinkard's efforts saw the Birmingham Southern women's golf program vault into national prominence, as Golf Digest tabbed BSC as the No. 42 program in the nation in its September 2006 Golf First list, which recognizes programs for facilities and competition for those junior golfers wishing to play professionally.
A TOP INSTRUCTOR
The Cullman, Ala., native has also served as the Director of the USGA-LPGA Girl's Golf Club in Birmingham which is one of the largest programs in the country with 100 girls ranging from 8 to 17 years of age.
A golf standout for the University of Alabama, Drinkard was the Girl's Alabama State High School Champion in 1980 and 1981 representing Cullman High School. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Alabama in 1986.
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