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Women’s preview: Big 12 Conference

Martha Richards has been waiting for a season like this. Since coming to Texas from Vanderbilt five years ago, she knew there would come a time when all the pieces would click. What resulted is a Texas squad that Richards calls her best yet.

“I do think that this is my strongest team mostly because we’re older,” Richards said. “We’re a similar makeup to last year’s team mostly because we didn’t graduate anybody.”

The results certainly back up Richards’ claim. Texas won twice in the fall, and claims Golfweek’s highest-ranked individual in senior Nicole Vandermade. Reigning Big 12 individual champion Madison Pressel completes the Longhorns’ two-headed monster.

“They’re both very talented, very competitive, but they’re also very different so they both bring really nice things to our team,” Richards said.

In the past, Haley Stephens had been a model of consistency for Texas, but struggled with her game in the fall. Add junior Desiree Dubreuil, who Richards calls “a shot in the arm” for Texas and freshman Bertine Strauss, who missed the final event because of pneumonia, and Texas looks extremely deep.

Not only is Texas stronger, but those around the Longhorns are, too. The Big 12, which sent only one team to the NCAA Championship in 2011 (Texas A&M) claims six teams in the top 30 in Golfweek’s rankings. Texas checks in at No. 10.

Richards noted that there are a lot of those teams Texas has yet to see. Still, it’s something to think about as Texas prepares to defend its Big 12 title.

“I feel good about where our conference is, I feel like we’re kind of back on the rise,” Richards said. “We’re showing that we can be a really good golf conference.”

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Top of the class: Oklahoma State

Best player this fall: Nicole Vandermade, Texas

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Past champions

2007: Texas A&M

2008: Oklahoma State

2009: Oklahoma State

2010: Texas A&M

2011: Texas

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Conference capsules

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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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Going social with Golfweek

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