News & ToursApril 27, 2007

Conference call, April 27

Finally ... a couple of conference championships hold to form, with the winners being expected. The Arizona State women, ranked No. 1 in the latest Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll, cruised to an 18-stroke victory over UCLA at the Pac-10 Championship Wednesday. (It still blows me away that it has been 11 years since the Sun Devils last won their conference crown.) If not for some impressive play on the 18th hole at Seattle's Broadmoor GC from UCLA sophomore Tiffany Joh, who made a 21-foot birdie on the final hole to force a playoff with ASU's Anna Nordqvist for the individual title, then made a 15-footer for birdie to claim the crown, the ladies from Tempe would have walked away with all the big hardware (Melissa Luellen was named conference coach of the year; Nordqvist was named player and freshman of the year).

Defending NCAA men's champion Oklahoma State showed it isn't going to be the after thought the Cowboys seemed close to becoming earlier this spring. It wasn't just the seven-stroke margin of victory OSU had at the Big 12 Championship over Texas A&M. It was the fact that Pablo Martin jumped back into the college winner's circle with a three-shot individual triumph and that the enigmatic Ryan Posey, talented enough to qualify for the U.S. Open last year yet never really having the All-American career everyone figured he would going into college, finished second and looks like he's on his game as the senior's college years wind down.

At the men's Pac-10 Championship, Southern California earned its conference-best 18th league title with a dominating performance at Eugene (Ore.) CC, shooting a 51-under 1,389 and beating cross-town rival UCLA by 36 strokes. Yes, the Bruins and Stanford, who finished fourth, had gotten more ink this year, but the Trojans are hardly a surprise winner. It was their third tournament victory of the season and their 10th top-five finish in 11 starts. Jamie Lovemark, meanwhile, had to have locked up freshman of the year honors (baring a rookie takes the NCAA title) with a notable 19-under 269 showing, six strokes lower than runner-up Niklas Lemke of Arizona State. Lovemark, who didn't make a bogey until the 59th hole of the tournament, became the first USC player to win medalist honors since Sam Randolph in 1983.

With that, here is a look at what's in store this weekend. (Remember that NCAA women's Division I regional selections will be made Monday):

Conference_chart_427

__WOMEN

MID-AMERICAN

Field: __Ball State, Bowling Green State, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Kent State, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan  __ __

__2006 champions: __Kent State, by 60 strokes over Toledo; Tara Delaney, Kent State*

  • competing in 2007

__Skinny:__Hard to pick against the Golden Flashes, who are going for their ninth straight Mid-American conference title. Kent also historically captures medalist honors, and Delaney (one win, three top-10s in 2006-07) looks primed to repeat individually.


__MAAC __

Field:Fairfield, Siena

__ 2006 champions: __Siena, by 84 strokes over Fairfield;Bridget Erwin, Siena (playoff)*

*competing in 2007

__Skinny:__Only two choices here, and really there's just one; Siena should once again have no trouble walking away with the title.

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__

__

BIG TEN __

__Field:__Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

__2006 champions: __Purdue, by 11 strokes over Ohio State; Alice Kim, Northwestern*

  • competing in 2007

__ Skinny:__ The way the Boilermakers have been playing of late—three wins in their last four starts—it's going to be tough to keep them from claiming a second straight title, particular with the championship being a 72-hole event. The only real challenger might be Michigan State, who will need to take advantage of local knowledge playing at their home course to claim an upset win. As for medalist, Purdue sophomore Maria Hernandez is similarly on a torrid streak, winning three of her last four starts and coming in second in the other event after losing in a playoff.


__

__NORTHEAST

__Field:__Central Connecticut State, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU-Brooklyn, Monmouth, Mount St. Mary's, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis (Pa.), Wagner

__ 2006 champions: __St. Francis (Pa.), by two strokes over LIU-Brooklyn; Samantha Milosh, St. Francis (Pa.)*

  • competing in 2007

__Skinny:__There's no clear-cut front-runner as more than a half-dozen schools are bunched within 25 spots on the Golfstat ranking. Giving an edge to experience, we see the RedFlash of St. Francis bringing home the hardware again.



__

__

__MEN

MOUNTAIN WEST__

__Field:__Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, TCU, UNLV, Utah, Wyoming

__2006 champions: __New Mexico, by five strokes over UNLV; Jay Choi, New Mexico

__ Skinny: __Looks like New Mexico's run of four straight conference titles ends this year as the team championship moves to a new venue (been played at the Crosswater Club the past four years) and will come down to a duel between UNLV and BYU. We'll give the edge to the Rebels. Don't fret, Lobo fans. Senior Charlie Beljan will claim medalist honors ... provided his back doesn't start to act up on him.

__ __

BIG TEN

__Field:__Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

__ 2006 champions: __Northwestern, by nine strokes over Minnesota; __Chris Wilson, __Northwestern*

  • competing in 2007

Skinny: Ohio State's Scarlet Course isn't going to be yielding many birdies, at least if the stats from last week's Lady Buckeye Invitational are an indication. No Big Ten squad stands about the crowd here, but I'm going to go with Minnesota as my choice. The Golden Gophers haven't won this year and are inconsistent, but with Bronson La'Cassie leading the way, they have talent. Plus, this is the venue when the school had its greatest golfing victory—the 2002 NCAA Championship. I like LaCassie taking the individual title, with Michigan State's Matt Harmon more than likely to give him a run for his money and Wilson having a decent shot at repeating, thanks to his Columbus roots.

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[__

MAAC__

](http://maacsports.com/index.php?s=1177379145-300983011&change_well_id=2&url_article_id=3551)

__Field:Canisius, __Fairfield, Iona, Loyola (Md.), Manhattan, Niagara, Rider, St. Peter's, Siena

__2006 champions: Siena, by 15 strokes over Loyola (Md.); Kyle Underwood, __Iona*

  • competing in 2007

__ Skinny: After getting beaten out a year ago when trying for their fourth straight MAAC title, Loyola will be back on top this year. The Greyhounds are the clear No. 1 seed, having won three tournaments this season, and claimed the conference crown the last two times the event was played at the Magnolia Course. Don't be surprised if a Loyola upperclassmen (the school starts a senior, Will Shriver, and three juniors, Matt Bassler__, Nick Brassill and Chris Derby) wins medalist honors; the individual winner earns the MacLeod Award, named after former Iona golfer Charles "Scott" McLeod who passed away in 1985 after a life-long fight with kidney-related ailments.____

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