Staff picks: NCAA Women’s Championship

The NCAA Women’s Championship kicks off Tuesday, and Golfweek’s esteemed panel of experts has weighed in on the year’s biggest tournament. Whether you agree with their choices is up for debate. Click here to weigh in for yourself.

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Beth Ann Baldry

Winner: UCLA … Bruins aren’t feeling the same amount of pressure as the red-hot Trojans or the history-chasing Blue Devils. And they’ve got just as much talent.

Sleeper: Florida. Nothing phases this team. Not even Duke.

Dark horse: Oklahoma State… Jaclyn Sweeney might carry the Cowgirls to their sixth top-5 finish in NCAA competition.

Surprise story: UNLV. Riding high off their regional performance, Rebels have played six tournament rounds on this course.

Individual winner: Stacy Lewis. Arkansas senior is about as competitive as they come. Lewis is the underdog in this match, and she likes it that way.

Player to keep an eye on: Maria Hernandez. Purdue’s finest isn’t as well-known as those ranked above her, but she can more than hold her own.

Lance Ringler

Winner: With five players that will all earn some sort of All-American status, USC is your pick.

Sleeper: There was no way you could choose Arizona State as a sleeper when the season started, but the Sun Devils could be the team that sneaks into contention this week.

Surprise story: Mic Potter has guided Alabama to three consecutive finals – that’s exactly how long he has been at the helm for the Crimson Tide program. Alabama is ranked No. 12 and could turn a few heads.

Dark horse: The list of legitimate contenders this year is deeper than we have ever seen at the women’s championship. After of course USC, UCLA, Duke, Florida and Arizona State, Denver and Oklahoma State are two teams that could play the dark horse role and get into the mix.

Individual winner: Amanda, Stacy, Stacy, Amanda … Let’s go with Tiffany Joh. Joh tied for sixth here at the Fall Preview and has been playing well, but not great. Expect greatnees this week on the biggest stage.

Player to keep an eye on: Auburn freshman Cydney Clanton is a player that you don’t hear many people speaking of. She has recorded seven top 10s in 11 starts and is coming off a tie for 4th at the East Regional. She is ranked No. 13 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.

Asher Wildman

Winner: I’ve been picking them all year long so why stop now? USC.

Sleeper: Purdue. The talent is there and they came real close last year. With the wind blowing, they’ll be prepared.

Surprise story: UNLV. Who would have thought it? They look relaxed, focused and are accustomed to playing on the West Coast.

Dark horse: Call me crazy but I’m going with Denver. I don’t think they will be intimidated. The course is on the West Coast, and they really are that good!

Individual winner: Stacy Lewis. This is where she settles the player of the year debate with Amanda Blumenherst.

Player to keep an eye on: Pernilla Lindberg. Ringler is in town and she knows what her lucky charm is, or shall I say who.

Jay Coffin

Winner: No East Coast bias here, it’ll be UCLA. I’ve picked them early and often. They’ll get it done late.

Sleeper: Purdue did finish second last year, don't be surprised with a similar finish this year.

Surprise story: Third-year program UC Davis took down storied programs Ohio State and Stanford in a playoff at the West Regional to advance. If that's not a surprise I don't know what is.

Dark horse: There won’t be one, it’s a three-horse race.

Individual winner: Maria Jose Uribe. The fiery UCLA freshman took down Amanda Blumenherst in the championship of the U.S. Women's Amateur, no reason she can't do it in an equally as big stroke play event.

Player to keep an eye on: Dewi Schreefel. The 2006 NCAA individual champ won the Preview here in September and tied for sixth last week at the West Regional. She'll be ready to step up for USC in what will be her final college event.

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