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Women’s preview: West Coast Conference

Editor’s note: College golf is dormant in January, so let Golfweek’s annual conference preview series serve as a bridge to the spring season. Here you’ll find fall highlights and spring predictions for each conference with an automatic qualifying spot in the postseason. The series (read all stories here) runs from Jan. 12 to Feb. 11.

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West Coast Conference

Conference championship: April 13-15, Saticoy Country Club, Ventura, Calif.

Defending champion: Pepperdine

Conference members (Golfweek ranking in parentheses): Pepperdine (12), Gonzaga (41), San Francisco (72), BYU (83), Santa Clara (108)

Conference favorite: Pepperdine is the obvious choice. The Waves own 16 conference titles, and are on a 13-year winning streak. In the fall, Pepperdine won once (the Golfweek Conference Challenge) as two freshmen adjusted to the roster in place of Grace Na and Liv Cheng, who graduated in 2014.

Could challenge: Gonzaga. A tough fall schedule yielded two top 5s, and the Bulldogs never finished worse than seventh. The most impressive finish was fourth at the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational, traditionally loaded with Pac-12 teams. The spring season doesn’t get any easier, with stops at the Peg Barnard Invitational hosted by Stanford and a trip to Maui for the Anuenue Spring Break Classic.

Sleeper: BYU. The team was third at the Hobble Creek Fall Classic and second at the Cougar Cup, two finishes it should be proud of. Lea Garner is a strong leader, and BYU should lean on her as the conference championship approaches.

Midseason All-Conference team: Marissa Chow, Pepperdine (junior); Tatiana Wijaya, Pepperdine (freshman); Alina Ching, Pepperdine (senior); Lea Garner, BYU (junior); Raychelle Santos, Gonzaga (junior)

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