During the month of January, Golfweek will preview the spring season for each conference. Check out all of the previews here.
Today, we look at the Big South Conference:
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5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Top of the class: Campbell
• Player to watch: Tahnia Ravnjak, Campbell. Ravnjak fired 69 and 66 in the final two rounds of the Golfweek Program Challenge, respectively, en route to medalist honors.
• Freshman to watch: Sarah Bae, High Point. The rookie nabbed four top-10 finishes to lead High Point in the fall.
• Conference championship: April 13-15, The Patriot GC, Ninety Six, S.C.
• Past champions (since 2009): Coastal Carolina (2013), Campbell (2012), Coastal Carolina (2011), Charleston Southern (2010), Coastal Carolina (2009)
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(Golfweek/Sagarin rank in parentheses)
- Campbell (59): The Fighting Camels made a big statement in the fall, winning three of their six tournaments and taking a runner-up finish at the Starmount Classic. Campbell, which finished second at the Big South Championship last season, had five golfers play all six tournaments this fall. Two women finished a fall tournament in at least at tie for first – sophomore Tahnia Ravnjak at the Golfweek Program Challenge and Kaylin Yost at the Fighting Camel Fall Classic. Campbell returns four players from last year’s all-conference team. The Fighting Camels impressed in the fall, but can they top the reigning champs?
- Coastal Carolina (90): Last year’s Big South Conference champions lost both of their all-conference selections, including player of the year Brittany Henderson. They responded with two top-five finishes in the fall out of five chances, with their highest finish coming at the Wendy’s Fall Invitational (2). Coastal Carolina’s two All-Freshman Team selections from last year – Lena Schaeffner and Marissa Hinchman – led the team in terms of scoring average at 74.4 and 74.6, respectively, in the fall.
- High Point (104): High Point nabbed top-5 finishes in four of its five tournaments this fall, including wins at its first two tournaments. High Point’s jump from finishing sixth in the Big South Conference Championship last year to one of the league’s contenders this spring can be partially attributed to the play of freshman Sarah Bae. She led the team with a 73.38 stroke average, four rounds under par and four top-10 finishes. Bae was the only Panther to finish a tournament under par – which she did twice – and shoot a round in the 60s this fall. Three other Panthers checked in with multiple top-10 finishes this fall, Danielle Fuss, Casey Ward and Grier Bennett.
- Winthrop (131): Winthrop capped off the fall with a second-place finish at its own tournament. Senior Meagan Wallace played to three top-10 finishes in the fall, as the team looks to improve upon its eighth-place finish at the Big South Conference Championship last year.
- Gardner-Webb (158): Gardner-Webb is as youthful as it gets, with six underclassmen on a seven-player roster. Only one contributor returns from the team’s fourth-place finish at the Big South Championship last year, sophomore Mary Katherine Donovan. The Runnin’ Bulldogs pulled out three top-five finishes as a team in the fall. Freshman Taylor Dodson led the team with a 76.71 stroke average and posted three top-five finishes individually.
- Longwood (159): Longwood ended its 2012-13 season with a third place finish at the Big South Championship. But it did not get off to a great start in the fall, failing to earn a top-five finish as a team in four tournaments. But the Lancers returns their top player in terms of scoring average, Amanda Steinhagen. The senior played to a 74.55 average in the fall, shooting a low round of 68 and earning two top-10 finishes on the way.
- Radford (174): Radford brings back its two top players – Alexandra Austin and Kirsty Condon – from the 2012-13 season, a year in which it finishes near the bottom of the pack in the Big South Conference. Austin led the team in the fall with a 76.29 scoring average and three top-10 finishes. The team nabbed one top-5 finish in tournaments with more than 10 teams this fall.
- Charleston Southern (182): Charleston Southern escaped the bottom half of the standings in one tournament this fall – a T-3 finish at the Wendy’s Invitational. None of Charleston Southern’s golfers posted a scoring average less than 77 in the fall. And only Shelby Thompson posted a top-10 finish individually in five tournaments.
- Presbyterian College (220): Presbyterian has a young bunch on its hands with seven underclassmen on the roster. The team finished near the bottom of the pack in each of its five fall tournaments. The Blue Hose also finished last at last year’s Big South Conference Championship.
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Lance Ringler weighs in on the conference title race
With three of the best players in the league in Kaylin Yost, Tahnia Ravnjak and Lisbeth Brooks, Campbell is the favorite. The Camels only competition this year is Coastal Carolina, but expect Campbell to win its second league title in the past three years.