Editor’s note: Over the next month, Golfweek.com will be previewing every conference that has an automatic bid into the NCAA Regionals. For all of the men’s conference capsules, click here.
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It’s called the Atlantic 10 Conference. It is comprised of 16 schools. Of those, 13 have golf programs that compete nationally. Could get a bit confusing.
One thing that isn’t so confusing, however, is that when the time comes for the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship in April, Charlotte will be the team to beat – again.
The 49ers won six consecutive conference titles, from 2006 to ’11. The string was snapped last season when Charlotte and Xavier tied for second, two shots behind surprise winner George Washington. Still, it would be good to remember that the championship was shortened to 36 holes due to weather. A full 54 holes and who knows?
Two newcomers enter the Atlantic 10 fray this season in Virginia Commonwealth and Butler, with VCU having the potential to make some noise.
Still, it’s Charlotte’s ballgame. Under the direction of second-year coach Ryan Cabbage, the 49ers appear primed to regain that conference trophy.
The Atlantic 10 is not the most potent conference around, top to bottom. Charlotte, at No. 67 in the final fall Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, is the only team within the top 70. Just three others are among the top 155: Richmond (128), VCU (130) and Xavier (155). The other nine rank from Nos. 205 to 281.
The 49ers enter the spring season following a solid fall campaign during which they posted four top-10s in five starts, including a pair of third places: at the Tar Heel and Rod Myers.
Though there are no so-called superstars, the lineup appears to be steady and consistent.
Freshman Dan Hendry led the team in the fall with two top-25 showings in three starts, including a T-4 at the Tar Heel. He enters the spring with a team-best Golfweek/Sagarin ranking of No. 233.
Junior Joe Toland had three top-25s in five starts, highlighted by a T-12 at the Tar Heel and T-7 at the Pacific, while junior Franco Castro also had a trio of top-15s, including a T-10 at the Rod Myers and T-3 at Pacific.
Freshman Daniel Brantley notched three top-25s in four starts, while sophomore Raoul Menard had a T-10 at Pacific to top his five starts. Senior Braeden Cryderman tied for third at the Rod Myers in his lone start, and freshman Thomas Rowland cracked the lineup twice and contributed.
A young team, for sure, but look for the 49ers to not only be the leading contender for the conference title, but also to make their way into the NCAA post-season for the ninth year in a row.
But you can bet that the talented likes of Richmond, VCU and Xavier will have a say come conference tournament time.
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Where it stands now
Top of the class: Charlotte
Best player this fall: Daniel Walker, Richmond
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2012: George Washington
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