I hate it when my colleagues in the media make bombastic statements along the lines of "such and such was the greatest game ever played" or "University of X is the best squad every assembled." The problem with such hyperbole is too little perspective and too much self-awareness usually being applied.
With that, however, I'm going to talk out of the other side of my iBook G4 and say I think the last few days have been the most exciting weekend of college golf ... ever. (OK, at least since I started covering the beat in the late 1990s.)
At the women's ACC Championship at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., top-ranked Duke extended its consecutive conference titles streak to 13 â¿¿ albeit barely! A clutch final-hole birdie by Blue Devil Alison Whitaker followed by junior Amanda Blumenherst saving par on the 53rd and 54th holes, and the Dukies beat Virginia by one stroke. Blumenherst's exploits also seal her ACC record third straight individual title when Florida State's Caroline Westrup three-putts the final two holes.
At the men's SEC Championship at Frederica GC in St. Simons Island, Ga., top-ranked Alabama ended 29 years of conference championship futility with a eight-stroke triumph over South Carolina. Michael Thompson's final-round 65 pushed him to the individual title, his first victory in his two years in Tuscaloosa; any whispers that his bid for national player of the year was tarnished because he hadn't won yet can now be silenced.
Most impressive for the Crimson Tide was the eight under they shot the final day on the final four holes, a contrast to a year ago when that same stretch cost the team a potential title. "It feels fantastic," said Alabama coach Jay Seawell shortly after the win. "It feels just like I thought it would. Unbelievable. I'm really proud of the guys. It was a tight day. The last four holes—we've talked about it—last year our last four holes were kind of our demise here. And this year the four holes were the difference. I am proud of them for how they played. Nobody hands you an SEC Championship. You've got to win it and the guys won it today. I'm really proud of them."
At the women's SEC Championship at Tennessee National GC in Loudon, Tenn., Florida earned a ninth conference title but its first since 1995. The Gators left little room for surprises with a tournament best four-under 284 Sunday to cruise to a 17-shot triumph (10-over 874) over Arkansas. Similarly methodical was Lady Razorback senior Stacy Lewis, claiming the individual title with a final-round 72 and a two-under 214. It was her second SEC tourney title and sixth victory of the 2007-08 season (I'm still not sure if she or Blumenherst is POY.)
At the men's ACC Championship at Old North State Club in New London, N.C., Florida State earned its first title since joining the conference in 1992, passing Duke on the last day and handling a two-hour-plus rain delay. Three FSU players—Jonas Blixt, Matt Savage and Drew Kittleson—finished top-10, while Wake Forest's Webb Simpson won the individual title with a ACC record score of 14-under 202.
At the men's Colonial Athletic Association Championship at Golden Horseshoe GC in Williamsburg, Va., Georgia State took care of business by claiming the title by 25 strokes, securing the automatic bid to the NCAA regionals ... the only way it was going to play in the postseason because of the .500 rule. Senior Joel Sjoholm's 12-under 201 (including a 65 in the first round) won him medalist honors by six strokes.
At the women's Ivy League Championship at Atlantic City CC in Northfield, N.J., Harvard won its first conference title while Princeton's Susannah Aboff shot an Ivy League record 65 in the first round and won medalist honors by 11 strokes.
At the U.S. Intercollegiate at Stanford GC in Palo Alto, Calif., the USC men cruised to the team title, the Trojans' third win in fourth events. Sophomore Rory Hie won his second tournament of the season and shot a USC-record 62 for the second time this season.
At the Ping Cougar Classic at Riverside CC in Provo, Utah, Boise State senior Troy Merritt won his fourth straight individual title (eight-under 208) and sixth of the 2007-08 season, best in men's college golf ... as is his 69.2 stroke average.
As I was saying, a pretty impressive three days of golf, don't you think!
OK, updated conference championship summary below.