Women’s Conference Challenge preview

Women’s Conference Challenge preview

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Women’s Conference Challenge preview

The Golfweek Women’s Conference Challenge tees off Sept. 25-27. The 54-hole event will be played at Red Sky Golf Club in Wolcott, Colo. Fifteen teams in the field finished the 2009-10 season ranked in the top 75 of the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. Check out the re-cap of Pepperdine’s win in 2009.

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Campbell

Conference: Atlantic Sun

Coach: John Crooks

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 50

The scoop: The Camels finished third at the Atlantic Sun Championship at the end of last spring, and finished in the top 3 eight times during regular-season play. Only one senior exited the lineup after last spring, so expect this team to have lost little over the summer months.

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Virginia

Conference: Atlantic Coast

Coach: Kim Lewellen

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 11

The scoop: Virginia will return all five players from its national championship squad, including Golfweek honorable-mention All-American Calle Nielson (also the reigning NCAA West Regional champion), Lauren Greenlief and Brittany Altomare. Look for the Cavaliers to build on their eighth-place finish at the Fall Preview, and come out firing at Red Sky Golf Club.

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Minnesota

Conference: Big Ten

Coach: John Harris/Katie Brenny

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 57

The scoop: The Gophers are under the new leadership of director of golf John Harris and associate head coach Katie Brenny. After being left out of regional action last season – a move by the selection committee that raised a few eyebrows – Minnesota has something to gun for this year. Senior Teresa Puga, who qualified for regionals as an individual, likely will continue to lead the charge. Puga finished T-21 as the team finished solo seventh at last week’s Cougar Classic. As for this team’s potential? Take a hint from its opening-round 1-over 289, which put the Gophers in second place after Round 1.

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Texas A&M

Conference: Big 12

Coach: Trelle McCombs

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 23

The scoop: Despite hosting the season-opening Fall Preview, the Aggies, ranked No. 26 in Golfweek’s preseason rankings, struggled to 16th out of 18 teams. It’s a surprising finish for a team that showed spots of brilliance during the 2010 postseason. Texas A&M took a big hit from the loss of Aussie Julia Boland, and will need some help from the four freshmen on the roster. Senior Sarah Zwartynski, who helped the Aggies blow away the field with a final-round rally to win the 2010 Big 12 Championship, will be a big factor in the team’s success if she can channel her rock-solid game from last spring.

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Sacramento State

Conference: Big Sky

Coach: David Sutherland

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 111

The scoop: Senior Samantha Saffold and junior Julie Shutler bring experience to this otherwise young squad. Though the Hornets were winless last season, the team did earn four top-5 finishes, including a second place at the Big Sky Championship, missing the league’s automatic qualifying bid into regional play by just two shots.

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Coastal Carolina

Conference: Big South

Coach: Katie Quinney

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 60

The scoop: The Chanticleers might have found a secret weapon in Courtney Boe. The freshman won her first college tournament, the Jacksonville Labor Day Shootout, after going 3 over in 27 holes at the TPC Sawgrass Player’s Stadium course. Coastal Carolina claimed two other players in the top 10, helping the team to an 8-shot win over Florida. The question is, can they bring that game to Vail?

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UC Davis

Conference: Big West

Coach: Anne Walker

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 31

The scoop: UC Davis is returning a tough cast of players from a dominant 2009-10 season. Amy Simanton, Big West Freshman of the Year, enters her sophomore season fresh off qualifying into the LPGA Safeway Classic in August, while senior duo Alice Kim, Big West Golfer of the Year, and Chelsea Stelzmiller each bring three years of experience. After ending the spring with a 19-shot routing at the Big West Championship – the Aggies’ fourth win of the season – the team opened its season at the Topy Cup, finishing fourth at the Japan event.

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Tulane

Conference: Conference USA

Coach: John Thomas Horton

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 27

The scoop: Ranked No. 22 in Golfweek’s preseason rankings, Tulane showed that it can be a contender this year by finishing in the top half of a loaded Fall Preview field. Senior Janine Fellows is the go-to player for the Green Wave. Fellows finished her junior campaign ranked No. 60 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, and also qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open this summer.

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Harvard

Conference: Ivy League

Coach: Kevin Rhoads

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 68

The scoop: Like Minnesota, Harvard also came up just short of NCAA postseason action last spring after stumbling in the final round of the Ivy League Championship and dropping from first to third. Still, the Crimson Tide recorded four wins in regular-season play last year, and also welcomes Bonnie Hu to the roster, named one of Golfweek’s freshmen to watch.

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Missouri State

Conference: Missouri Valley

Coach: Kevin Kane

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 95

The scoop: The Bears earned two wins during the 2009-10 season, and remains a young team with no seniors. Missouri State returned four of its top five scorers, including Catherine Dolan, who maintained a 76.97 scoring average last season and likely will lead the squad again this year. The junior finished second in Missouri State’s season-opening Redbird Invitational.

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UNLV

Conference: Mountain West

Coach: Amy Bush

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 38

The scoop: In its first outing under new head coach Amy Bush, the Rebels finished eighth at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational. Therese Koelbaek – who ended last season ranked No. 55 by Golfweek – Alejandra Guacaneme, and Kristen Schelling are the players that need to play well for this team to shine.

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Arizona

Conference: Pac 10

Coach: Laura Ianello

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 4

The scoop: Get ready for the Wildcats’ debut on home soil. Arizona won the Topy Cup on Sept. 11 in Tokyo, Japan, earning its third victory in four events dating back to last season. With former assistant coach, and Arizona alumna, Laura Ianello in the lead and all five of last season’s starters returning, Arizona could be tough this year. The team enters Golfweek’s Conference Challenge with the highest preseason ranking of any team in the field at No. 5.

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Tennessee

Conference: SEC

Coach: Judi Pavon

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 12

The scoop: The college season is only a couple weeks old, but the biggest surprise yet could be Tennessee’s last-place finish at the NCAA Fall Preview. The Lady Vols, who fell just two shots short of an NCAA East Regional title last spring, were ranked No. 17 in Golfweek’s preseason rankings. They returned four of last year’s top five players, including preseason third-team selection Nathalie Mansson. With so much familiarity from last year’s squad, a rebound isn’t out of the question at next week’s event. Remember that runner-up at regionals? Well, it came on the heels of a ninth-place finish at the SEC Championship. Enough said.

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Chattanooga

Conference: Southern

Coach: Colette Murray

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 44

The scoop: It’s hard telling where the season might have taken Chattanooga last fall had it made it to the postseason with a full lineup. The Mocs won their maiden Southern Conference Championship, then promptly lost sophomore Moa Duf to her native Sweden just before the NCAA East Regional. With a full roster in place for the start of a new season, Chattanooga finished second at their season-opening Labor Day Shootout. Don’t forget that the Mocs placed third at last year’s Golfweek Conference Challenge.

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Central Arkansas

Conference: Southland

Coach: Ryke Dismuke

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 87

The scoop: Central Arkansas lost just one player from last year’s team, which ended the season with a third-place finish at the Southland Championship. Rebecca Sorensen, who won medalist honors at that event, leaves big shoes to fill, but sophomore Julia Roth looks up to the challenge after a T-11 finish at the Chip-N-Club Invitational.

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San Jose State

Conference: Western Athletic

Coach: John Dormann

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 39

The scoop: The season is looking bright for this team full of California kids. The Spartans return lone international player Madeleine Ziegert, co-medalist at last spring’s NCAA West Regional. Jennifer Brumbaugh scored under par for the first time in her career at the season-opening Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic. Look out for San Jose State.

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Pepperdine

Conference: West Coast

Coach: Laurie Gibbs

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 9

The scoop: There are two ways of looking at this year’s Pepperdine squad. The Waves lost strong players in Lisa McCloskey (to USC) and Jessica Wallace (to Colorado), but gained Danielle Kang, the U.S. Women’s Amateur champion who started a semester early in Malibu and booked instant success. Kang can’t single-handedly pull off a title defense at the Conference Challenge for Pepperdine, which came in at No. 14 in Golfweek’s preseason rankings, but she’s sure not a bad weapon to have in your corner. If returners Taylore Karle and Kaitlin Drolson play to their potential, Kang won’t have to worry about that.

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Denver

Conference: Sun Belt

Coach: Sammie Chergo

2009-10 final Golfweek rank: 16

The scoop: Two big names exited the Pioneer line-up last spring in USGA superstar Kimberly Kim and Canadian national wonder Stephanie Sherlock. The team didn’t miss a beat in their season debut, however, finishing T-4 at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational. Another reason to keep an eye on this team? The home-state advantage.

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