Defending NCAA champion Alabama, Pac-12 champion USC and ACC champion Duke earned the three top seeds when the NCAA Division I women’s golf committee announced the 72 teams and 18 individuals to play in the three regional tournaments May 9-11.
The top eight teams from each regional, and the two individuals with the lowest scores not on those teams, advance to the NCAA Championship at the University of Georgia GC in Athens, Ga., May 21-24.
Led by reigning NCAA champion Thomas Pieters, Illinois won its fifth-straight Big Ten men's title, outpacing Minnesota by nine strokes at French Lick (Ind.) Resort's Pete Dye course. The Fighting Illini became only the third program in the 94-year history of the Big Ten tournament to win five straight titles, joining Michigan (1932-36) and Ohio State (1976-80, 1982-87) as the only programs to "five-peat."
Pieters won the medalist honors with a four-under 284 total, beating teammate Brian Campbell and Minnesota's Erik Van Rooyan by five strokes.
Other conference titles of note that were decided this weekend:
* Northwestern and Purdue shared the women's Big Ten title, each shooting 20-over 884 on the Donald Ross Course at French Lick. It's the sixth Big Ten crown for the Boilermakers but the first for the Wildcats. Purdue's Paula Reto was the individual champion with a four-under 212.
* Duke claimed the ACC men's title, ending Georgia Tech's four-year run at Old North State Club in New London, N.C. The Blue Devils shot a closing four-under 284 for a 25-under 839 total to pass Florida State in the final round. Virginia Tech tied with FSU for second, three strokes back of Duke, with Georgia Tech finishing fourth. Yellow Jacket sophomore Anders Albertson was the medalist with a 15-under 201 total.
Here is a look at the conference championships through this weekend:
The conference championship season started in earnest this past weekend, with several marquee conferences holding their annual events. I wrote for Golf World Monday this morning about the ACC Women's Championship and about how Duke's win was a blast from the past and maybe a harbinger of things to come.
Below is a chart for the entire schedule of the men's and women's D-I championships that will take place in the coming weeks.
(Related: Why the conference championship is so intriguing?)
Alabama kept its place at No. 2. The Crimson Tide earned the other four first-place votes after claiming the title at the Aggie Invitational, their fifth team title of the 2012-13 season.
Rounding out the top five are New Mexico, Texas and UCLA.
The votes were already in, and USC had comfortable maintained its spot atop the latest Golf World/WGCA Division I coaches' poll—unbeknownst however to the women of Troy.
Yet as if there was going to be any confusion, the Trojans' 21-stroke victory over Arizona Tuesday at the San Diego State Farms Invitational only reaffirmed the voters' belief. It was USC's third win in a row and the fourth in the last five starts.
Junior Sophia Popov claimed medalist honors, winning her fifth career tournament to tie the school's all-time career victory mark with Irene Cho and Mikaela Parmlid. Four other USC golfers also posted top-10 individual finishes: Annie Park (third), Doris Chen (T-4), Kyung Kim (T-4) and Rachel Morris (T-10).
This is the first year that USC has three or more consecutive wins since the team closed out the 2008 season with four straight titles, including the NCAA championship. No doubt the folks in Los Angeles are hoping for a similar result come next month.
Here's a look at the overall top 25: