GREENVILLE, N.C. – Seven events, including the inaugural East Carolina Easter Invitational, highlight the spring 2021 women’s golf schedule second-year head coach CC Buford announced Thursday. The Pirates, who have made 10 NCAA Regional appearances since 2008, posted a 53-41 record a year ago before their season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are very enthusiastic for the opportunity to return to competition this spring and the completion of the schedule brings us another step closer in our pursuit of contending for a championship,” Buford said. “To continue the elevation of this program, I believe it is important to build a schedule where our players are competing against the top programs in the country.

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“This schedule puts us in a position to compete against the defending national champion Duke and runner-up Wake Forest early on and this will give us great insight into where we are. It also allows us to continue to develop as the season progresses into The American Championship and NCAA Tournament – when we want our team at their best.”

The season gets underway with the Pirates participating in the Kiawah Island-Turtle Point (Feb. 21-22). No stranger to this event, Coach Buford spent five seasons practicing and competing at Kiawah Island while at the College of Charleston and the Pirates will open at Turtle Point against nine Power 5 conference opponents, seven of whom are in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

ECU returns to the River Landing Classic (March 8-9) for the first time since the spring of 2018 where it claimed a second place finish. In four previous trips to Wallace, N.C. for the event, the Pirates have finished in the top four each year which included winning the event in 2016 posting a score of 898.

Trips to the Briar’s Creek Invitational (March 15-16) and the Pinetree Collegiate (March 22-23) wrap-up the month of March. It will be the Pirates’ eighth time participating at Briar’s Creek with their best finish coming in 2016 when they finished fourth.

ECU is set to host its lone event April 3-4 when it returns to Ironwood Country Club for the Easter Invitational. In events which the Pirates have hosted since the program began in 2000, they have taken home top team honors 10 times including the 2006 Conference USA Championships, which was also played at Ironwood.

“I think we are most excited about the inaugural ECU Easter Invitational to be hosted at Ironwood Country Club,” Buford added. “We had been looking to bring a tournament back to our practice course at Ironwood and this will present a good test for our team in advance of the 2021 AAC Championship. Ironwood hosted the NCAA East Regional in 2010, so we know this course is demanding at the highest level, and we will be excited to excel on a course that we call home.”

Prior to the AAC Championships (April 18-20), which will be held in Pinehurst, N.C., the Pirates will close out the regular season portion of their schedule participating in the Hoya Invitational (April 12-13) in Beallesville, Md. NCAA regional tournaments will be held May 10-12 followed by the NCAA Championships May 21-26 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“Like so many other programs across the country, we were faced with the challenges and uncertainties of dealing with the pandemic,” Buford said. “I am proud of the commitment our girls made in staying positive and finding creative ways to continue to improve during the time off. We are grateful to our administration and alumni base for the support they have shown us and are eager to compete and perform in a way that will make all of us connected to East Carolina proud.

“We enter 2021 with a team that has experience, which is always important, and new younger talent which will push everyone to be their best. Our older players have experience with many of the courses on our schedule which will certainly be a positive for us.”

The Pirates return four members from last year’s squad which includes Kathryn Carson, Dorthea Forbrigd, Caroline Hermes and Oda Sofie Kilsti.