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Muirfield Village Golf Club

The Loop

Conferences Calls—Women, first edition

April 12, 2006

The college postseason is upon us, and with it we'll get a chance to see schools from across the country try to earn their way into the NCAA regionals by winning their conference championships. In golf, as is the case in most sports, schools that win their conference receive automatic bids to regionals, essentially giving all programs a crack at NCAA glory.

With all that's on the line we'll take a insider look at all the conference championships over the next two-plus weeks, highlighting the team and individual favorites in each. As the schedule plays out, we'll keep you up to speed with updates every few days.

Without further ado, then, and with apologizes to the Atlantic Sun and Big South women's championships, both wrapping up today (for results, click on the links), here's a look at the first wave of conference tournaments.


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__Site:__Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort, No. 8 (par 72, 6.293 yards)

Dates: April 14-16 (for live scoring, check out Golfstat)

Defending champion: Duke; Brittany Lang, Duke

Field: Boston College, No. 1 Duke, Florida State, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), North Carolina, N.C. State, No. 16 Virginia, No. 13 Wake Forest.

Skinny: Is this the year Duke’s streak of consecutive conference championships finally ends or is the top-ranked team in the country a no-brainer to extend its run to 11 straight ACC titles? The Blue Devils have too much talent not to win again, although Virginia and Wake Forest will put some pressure on them. A Durham, N.C., student-athlete also will claim medalist honors; Duke players have won it six of the past seven years. While freshman Amanda Blumenherst will secure conference player of the year honors, look for senior__ Liz Janangelo __ to claim the individual title.

Brief aside: Blumenherst, Janangelo and defending NCAA champion Anna Grzebien were practicing on the Duke University course last Monday when a twosome in a cart caught up with them on the second tee. The players offered to let the twosome play through or asked if they might want to have a friendly match, particularly after recognizing one of the two golfers in the cart—Michael Jordan. The Tar Heel hoops great accepted the Blue Devils challenge, with a good deal of “trash talking” between the two sides occurring throughout the round. On the final hole, Jordan evened things up by winning a press.




Dates: April 14-16 (for live scoring, check out Golfstat)

Defending champion: Auburn; Stacy Lewis, Arkansas

Field: Alabama, No. 9 Arkansas, No. 4 Auburn, No. 15 Florida, No. 6 Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, South Carolina, No. 14 Tennessee, No. 12 Vanderbilt.

Skinny: Auburn pulled out an exciting win over Georgia in a playoff in 2005. Expect another close contest likely decided in the closing hole. Our take is the Bulldogs get their revenge on the Tigers with standout play from freshman Mallory Hetzel, Alina Lee and Taylor Leon. Junior transfer Jenny Suh, won the Southern Conference title a year ago while at Furman, hasn’t finished worse than T-6 all season and has the goods (73.17 average) to win individually over Auburn’s Maria Martinez.



Dates: April 14-16

Defending champion: James Madison; Kiley Bishop, James Madison

Field: Dayton, Georgia State, Hofstra, James Madison, Old Dominion, Richmond, UNC Wilmington, William & Mary, Xavier

Skinny: James Madison has had a lock on the title in the three years since the championship was first held, but the Dukes have had a rough spring (best finish: 7th at USF/Waterlefe) and face tougher competition this year in the form of conference newcomer Georgia State. We’re betting the Panthers take the title in their first year, just beating out a game UNC-Wilmington squad. Seahawk Michelle Jarman will cap off a top-notch senior season by winning the individual title.


Site: Dancing Rabbit GC, The Oaks Course, Philadelphia, Miss.

Dates: April 16-17

Defending champion: Jackson State, Shasta Averyhardt, Jackson State

Field: Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Alcorn State, Arkansas Pine Bluff, Grambling State Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State, Prairie View A&M, Southern, Texas Southern

Skinny: Jackson State remains the cream of the crop in the SWAC and should have no trouble winning another title. Look for sophomore Shasta Averyhardt to make it back-to-back individual titles as well.


Site: Ironwood CC, Greenville, N.C.

Dates: April 16-18

Defending champion: Tulane; Alison Walshe, Tulane

Field: Alabama-Birmingham, Central Florida, East Carolina, Marshall, Memphis, SMU, Southern Miss, Tulsa, UTEP

__Skinny:__Two-time defending champion Tulane was supposed to host the tournament this year—and be the favorite for a three-peat—but when the program was dropped by the school late last fall in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, plans changed. East Carolina stepped in to run the event, and SMU and Tulsa look like the teams to beat. Give the edge to the Mustangs, who claimed five top-five finishes in 2005-06. SMU’s Lacey Jones and Laura Cross, meanwhile, look to be the best bets to finish first individually.