Who are Sunday's big winners in college golf?
A quick look at some of the more high profile conference championships that concluded earlier this evening:
The Georgia Tech men winning at Old North State Club? Predictable. Four of the last five years the Yellow Jackets had captured at least a share of the ACC title on the New London, N.C., course so a 20-stroke victory over Duke, with individuals placing one (Paul Haley), two (Kyle Scott) and T-3 (J.T. Griffin) was something you could have foreseen three days earlier.
The Texas women winning at The Club at Old Hawthorne? Intriguing. The Longhorns have ducked in and out of Golf World/NGCA top 25 all season and have seemed on the verge of finally winning their first tournament under fourth-year coach Martha Richards for a while now, so a Big 12 Championship offered a bit of dramatic flare to the storyline.
The Michigan State women winning at Lake Shore CC? Surprising. No disrespect to the Spartans, but they had just three top-five finishes all season, making them true underdogs in the quest to keep Purdue, the defending NCAA champs, from taking a fourth-straight Big Ten title. Yet sure enough, MSU came in five shots lower over 72 holes, claiming the school's ninth conference crown. *****
I had technical glitches that prevented me from posting a Podcast on Friday with Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler, but had you heard it you would have learned that Heppler believes the GC of Georgia, one of the Yellow Jacket's home courses back in Atlanta, is the reason perhaps behind the school's success at Old North State Club. The similarities in course set-up (firm and fast with slick greens) gives his guys the chance to simulate the championship's conditions in the weeks proceeding the league tournament. He also had a good vibe about Haley, Scott and Griffin entering the tournament, which proved to be correct.
Even so, Heppler noted Sunday evening after his team had shot a 33-under 831, an ACC tournament record, "That's some of the best golf we've ever played. … I couldn't be more thrilled for these guys and how they played this weekend. For those three seniors to finish 1-2-3 and graduate in 10 days, that's as good as it gets."
Here is how the conference championship season has played out thus far and what's ahead in the coming days.