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.
Mountain West Conference
Conference championship: April 20-22, Mission Hills CC (Dinah Shore Course), Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Defending champion: New Mexico
Teams (with Golfweek ranking): UNLV (21), San Diego State (24), San Jose State (49), Fresno State (75), Boise State (81), Colorado State (97), Nevada (116), New Mexico (130), Wyoming (182)
Conference favorite: UNLV has the uncontested best player in the league in Dana Finkelstein, who could end the spring season as this year’s best player in college golf. The Rebels will always be able to count on a low score from Finkelstein, but it’s the back of the lineup that will truly determine UNLV’s level of success.
Could challenge: San Diego State. The Aztecs get a boost from their two top-100 players Emma Henrikson and Sirene Blair. In fact, they boosted the team to a two-victory fall (Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic, Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown). The competition between San Diego State and UNLV should make the conference championship quite exciting.
Sleeper: San Jose State. The Spartans played a tough schedule in the fall, with notable starts at the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational (eighth) and the Stanford Intercollegiate (11th). A season-opening victory at the Wyoming Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate was good for morale.
Midseason All-Conference team: Dana Finkelstein, UNLV (senior); Emma Henrikson, San Diego State (junior); Sirene Blair, San Diego State (sophomore); Madchen Ly, Fresno State (senior); Megan Osland, San Jose State (senior)