Conference Championship previews, Part I
With conference championship season beginning in earnest, I'm going to depart from the typical "This Week's Syllabus" format. Instead, I'll be previewing the various postseason tournaments over the course of the next several days.
To start, here is schedule for the entire conference championship season, which I'll run regularly and include updates with conference winners. (Congrats to the Stetson women, who came back from 12 strokes off the lead entering the final round and shot a championship record two-under 286 to win the Atlantic Sun crown, and the Charleston Southern women, who shot a championship record 17-over 881 in winning the Big South title. Both earned berths into the NCAA Division I women's regionals.)
Now here are some more indepth previews of the conference clashes that start now and Sunday. (Teams in italic in the men's events DO NOT currently meet the ".500 rule" requirement to receive at-large berths to NCAA regionals.)
(For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
The Homestead (Cascades Course), Hot Springs, Va.
Field (Golfstat ranking): Delaware (189), Drexel (241), George Mason (203), Georgia State (131), Hofstra (283), James Madison (153), Old Dominion (106), Towson (139), UNC Wilmington (68), VCU (69), William & Mary (166)
Defending champion: VCU (+13/877) in a playoff over Georgia State; Georgia State's Allen John (-5/211) by two strokes over Old Dominion's Eric Onesi
__Skinny:__UNC Wilmington has two wins this season, but a 17th place finish in its last start. My guess is the former is more what we'll see at The Homestead, not the later and coach Matt Clark gets his first CAA title with the Seahawks.
(For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Sea Island GC, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Field (Golfstat ranking): Alabama (26), Arkansas (29), Auburn (39), Florida (16), Georgia (18), Kentucky (107), LSU (28), Mississippi (40), Mississippi State (N/A), South Carolina (12), Tennessee (25), Vanderbilt (59)
Defending champion: Georgia (-15/849) by 13 strokes over Arkansas; Florida's Billy Horschel (-10/206) by two strokes over Mississippi State's Carlos Sainz, Jr.
Skinny: Can't remember an SEC race that's this wide open. Tons of good (but no great) teams in the mix. For some reason I feel like Florida rights the ship after a rocky few weeks and claims their first conference title since 2003. My dark horse (if you can really call them that) is LSU, which hasn't won SECs since 1987.
Black Horse, Seaside, Calif.
Field (Golfstat ranking): BYU (87), Colorado State (66), New Mexico (21), San Diego State (45), TCU (22), UNLV (37), Wyoming (143)
Defending champion: New Mexico (+39/903) by 14 strokes over TCU; Wyoming's Jonelle Martinez (+5/221) by two strokes over New Mexico's Brittany Choi
Skinny: The Lobos, two-time defending champs, have the best Golfstat ranking in the field, but I think TCU and San Diego State come into the event with the most momentum. The Horned Frogs have two seconds and a fourth in their last three starts; the Lady Aztecs have won their last two starts. Interestingly, only New Mexico, TCU and UNLV have won the MWC title in its 10-year history.
Sedgefield CC, Greensboro, N.C.
Field (Golfstat ranking): Boston College (NA), Duke (3), Florida State (23), Maryland (57), Miami (Fla.) (100), North Carolina (26), N.C. State (55), Virginia (13), Wake Forest (9)
Defending champion: Wake Forest (+17/869) by 24 strokes over North Carolina; Wake Forest's Natalie Sheary (+1/214) in a playoff over Duke's Amanda Blumenherst
Skinny: The Demon Deacons ended Duke's run of 13 straight conference titles last year. Blue Devils' coach Dan Brooks won't say it, but revenge can be an awful swell motivational tool.
](http://www.caasports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=8500&ATCLID=1420118)[#image: /photos/55ad728db01eefe207f692a8]|||CAA Championship 2010.jpg|||
The Homestead (Old Course), Hot Springs, Va.
Field (Golfstat ranking):____ Dayton (190), Georgia State (43), Hofstra (232), James Madison (82), Old Dominion (168), Richmond (152), Towson (209), UNC Wilmington (89), William & Mary (106), Xavier (103)
Defending champion: Georgia State (+50/890) by one stroke over UNC Wilmington; UNC Wilmington's Carmen Perez-Narbon (+9/219) by one stroke over UNC Wilmington's Ashley Tait
Skinny: Last year's squeeker is this year's cake walk; the Panthers are the class of the field and should win easily.
](http://www.secsports.com/championships/golf/default.aspx)[#image: /photos/55ad728dadd713143b424018]|||SEC men's championship logo 2009.jpg|||
North River Yacht Club, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Field (Golfstat ranking):____ Alabama (6), Arkansas (35), Auburn (4), Florida (19), Georgia (15), Kentucky (78), LSU (17), Mississippi (52), Mississippi State (129), South Carolina (30), Tennessee (16), Vanderbilt (20)
__Defending champion:__Auburn (+18/870) by eight strokes over Alabama and Arkansas; Georgia's Marta Silva Zamora (-3/210) by four strokes over South Carolina's Benedicte Toumpsin
Skinny: The conference is fairly balanced this year, so a fair number of teams could have a good week and take home top honors. Got to like the Crimson Tide, however, playing near home and having among the best seasons in school history.