College Women

Women's preview: Big South Conference

Campbell senior Michelle Koh
Campbell senior Michelle Koh ( Courtesy of Campbell University )

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Campbell’s women’s golf team put together a solid campaign during the fall.

The Fighting Camels led the conference in tournament wins (two), top 5s (five), stroke average (300.6) and individual top 10s (11).

But perhaps more impressive is that they did it while battling a slew of injuries.

“We had bronchitis. We had mononucleosis. We had other life situations that forced us to play a lot of people,” Campbell coach John Crooks said.

“And a lot of people responded.”

Six golfers logged at least 10 rounds for the Fighting Camels. Three more played no fewer than three. Not to mention the fact that four freshman and three sophomores saw action for Crooks’ squad.

Senior Michelle Koh led the way with four top 10s and a 75.8 average.

But freshmen Brook Bellomy, who led the team with a 75.5 average, and Lisbeth Brooks, who shot a 67 to help Campbell take third at the Golfweek Program Challenge in September, also shined in the fall.

“We’re very young,” Crooks said. “One of the pleasing points of the fall was that we had to play different lineups just about every week. From a coaches point of view, there’s nothing that helps you get better than competition.”

The success and depth have Crooks excited about the spring, which includes appearances in the Edwin Watts Kiawah Island Classic in February and the Hurricane Invitational in March.

It will also be Campbell’s first spring back in the Big South Conference.

The Fighting Camels were a charter member of the conference in 1983 and were the first Big South squad to advance to the NCAA Regionals. Campbell moved to the Atlantic Sun in 1994 and has finished no worse than third in the A-Sun since 2005.

“I expect to be competitive, but there are some good teams,” said Crooks, who is in his 21st season and has led the Fighting Camels to NCAA Regional appearances in four of the last seven seasons.

“In the spring you would kind of like to have a consistency in your lineup, so these next five weeks of preparation are very important for our team and our progress.”

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Top of the class: Campbell

Best player this fall: Kaitlin Higginbotham, Coastal Carolina

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Past champions

2007: Birmingham-Southern

2008: Charleston Southern

2009: Coastal Carolina

2010: Charleston Southern

2011: Coastal Carolina

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Conference capsules

Campbell (Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: No. 55)

Fighting Camels had strong fall, leading the conference in tournament wins (two), top 5s (five), stroke average (300.6) and individual top 10s (11). Freshman Brooke Bellomy led team with 75.5 stroke average, senior Michelle Koh notched a team-high four top-10 finishes and freshman Lisbeth Brooks shot a conference-low 67 during the fall.

Coastal Carolina (No. 64)

Senior Kaitlin Higginbotham (75.8 stroke average) was highest finisher in all four fall events for the defending conference champion Chanticleers, who notched a fall-best ninth-place finish at Golfweek Conference Challenge in September.

Gardner-Webb (No. 143)

Runnin’ Bulldogs shot 5-under 583 to take a share of third at the Great Smokies Women’s Collegiate in September. Meghan Allum is one of five juniors who played in at least 11 rounds during the fall.

Charleston Southern (No. 155)

Buccaneers had no top 5 finishes in first fall season under head coach Ernie Rose. Junior Amanda D’Ostroph’s 77.2 stroke average led squad.

Winthrop (No. 159)

Aside from a second-place finish at the Winthrop Intercollegiate, Eagles finished no better than 11th in their other three fall events.

Bucknell (No. 170)

Bison recorded just one top 5 in five tournaments after opening fall by winning the Bucknell Women’s Invitational in September. Sophomores Kasha Scott and Lauren Bernard each had two top 10 finishes during the fall.

Presbyterian College (No. 173)

Senior Kasay Holbrook led the conference with a 74.9 stroke average during the fall to go along with three top 3 finishes in four tournaments. The Blue Hose finished fourth as a team (307.6) and shot no worse than 9-over in four fall events.

High Point (No. 180)

Sixth-place finish at season-opening Terrier Intercollegiate was highlight of fall season for Panthers.

Radford (No. 183)

Highlanders notched one top 5 in four fall events. Senior Jade Okamoto and freshman Alexandra Austin finished second and third, respectively, in stroke average among conference golfers during the fall.

Holy Cross (No. 249)

Crusaders finished no better than eighth in four fall tournaments.

Conference championship

Big South Championship, April 9-11, The Patriot GC, Ninety Six, S.C.

Lance Ringler's prediction

Campbell. Coastal Carolina had been comfortable in the top spot of the Big South, being the top team for much of the past three years and winning a pair of Big South titles. But now the Chanticleers and the rest of the league will have to deal with newcomer Campbell.

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Complete coverage

Wondering how your favorite conference is shaping up headed into the spring season? Who is our favorite to pick up the automatic qualifier? Check out our conference-by-conference break down with our complete coverage page here.

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