• Player to watch: Taylor Pendrith, Kent State. Pendrith, the No. 58 golfer in the Golfweek/Sagarin individual rankings, is the reigning MAC Golfer of the Year and individual champ. He’s the leader of the pack in his senior season.
• Freshman to watch: Peyton White, Ohio. White played to two top-10 finishes in four tournaments in the fall, leading his team with a 72.58 scoring average.
• Conference championship: May 3-5, Longaberger CC, Nashport, Ohio
• Past champions (since 2009): Kent State (2009-13)
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(Golfweek/Sagarin rank in parentheses)
Kent State (21): Kent State sits in a class of its own in the MAC after winning the championship the past five years and making a run to the NCAA Championship last year. Four of Kent State’s five contributors from last year’s championship team return, including MAC Golfer of the Year and individual champ Taylor Pendrith. Seniors Pendrith, Kyle Kmiecik and Corey Connors all posted sub-73 scoring averages in the fall, with Connors taking medalist honors at the Gopher Invitational.
Akron (115): Akron kicked off the 2013-14 season with a big win at the Golfweek Program Challenge and finished the fall portion of its schedule with another top 5. Akron boasts a well-rounded team. The Zips’ four top players all posted a sub-75 scoring average, a top-10 finish and a round in the 60s. Six of Akron’s eight golfers on roster are underclassmen, including sophomore Ryan Harris, who shot a team-low 65 at the Pinetree Intercollegiate. Akron may not make a run at Kent State, but could be in store for a solid spring.
Eastern Michigan (118): Eastern Michigan nabbed a pair of top 5s in the fall, led by sophomore Stuart Grehan. Grehan notched two top 5s individually, including a win at the Firestone Invitational. His 72.8 scoring average led the team. Grehan was the only Eagle to post an individual top 10, but two others posted sub-75 scoring averages in the fall.
Ball State (130): Ball State played a tough fall schedule and it saw the results. The team failed to post a top-5 finish in six tournaments. Ball State returns only one contributor from its third-place finish at the MAC Championship last year, but that returner is Tyler Merkel, who finished fourth individually. Merkel posted one top 10 in the fall.
Miami (Ohio) (145): Miami finished its fall slate with a fourth-place finish at the Georgetown Intercollegiate, its only top 5 of the fall. Sophomore Jack Sparling led the team with a 73 scoring average, one top-10 finish and a low round of 68. The Redhawaks have six underclassmen on roster this year.
Toledo (171): Toledo returns all five of its contributors from a runner-up finish at the 2012-13 MAC Championship. But that returning experience did not show in the fall, as the team posted only one top 5 in six tournaments. Chris Selfridge led the team with a 73 scoring average and two top-10 finishes. Selfridge was runner up at the MAC Championship last year.
Bowling Green (181): Bowling Green took three top-5 finishes in the fall on the wings of strong performances from two freshmen and a senior. Senior Chris Melvin led the pack with a 72.6 scoring average and seven rounds under par in five tournaments. Freshmen Jose Narro and Brett Rinker made huge contributions; each player posted a sub-74 scoring average and two top 10s. Bowling Green will look to use its mix of young talent and experience to improve on its 5th-place finish at last year’s MAC Championship.
Ohio (194): The Bobcats top showing this fall came at the Cobra Puma Invitational, where they finished 6th out of 13 teams. Freshman Peyton White provided the bright spot for Ohio this fall, playing to a sub-73 scoring average and earning two MAC Golfer of the Week honors.
Northern Illinois (274): Northern Illinois finished near the bottom of the pack in each of its five tournaments this fall. Only two golfers posted a top-50 individual finish and the low round for an NIU golfer was 73.
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LANCE RINGLER’S TAKE
Same story in the MAC. Kent State is clearly at the top of the class and will again enter the postseason with the goal of reaching the top eight at the NCAA Championship. Herb Page has guided Kent State to four consecutive NCAA Championship appearances and one trip to the final eight and match play in 2012.