Alabama races to NCAA Fall Preview title

(left to right) Camilla Lennarth, Jennifer Kirby and Brooke Pancake led Alabama to victory Sept. 15 at the NCAA Fall Preview.

(left to right) Camilla Lennarth, Jennifer Kirby and Brooke Pancake led Alabama to victory Sept. 15 at the NCAA Fall Preview.

Women's Rankings »

RankNameSchoolRating
1Alison LeeUCLA  69.68 
2Annie ParkUSC  69.98 
3Gaby LopezArkansas  70.08 
4Yu LiuDuke  70.13 
5Stephanie MeadowAlabama  70.15 

Women's Team Rankings »

RankNameRatingEvents
1Southern California 70.56  10 
2UCLA 70.68 
3Duke 70.79 
4Stanford 71.56  10 
5Arkansas 71.66 

Mic Potter hopes the NCAA doesn’t get any ideas from looking at the low scores coming out of the Fall Preview. The Alabama coach likes the way Traditions Golf Club was set up, and why wouldn’t he? The Tide rolled to a one-shot victory over LSU on Wednesday, finishing at a school-record 15-under 849 at the site of the 2011 NCAA Championship.

“In my opinion, golf tournaments are a lot more fun like this than when they are battling it out for pars,” said Potter, whose team was No. 4 in Golfweek’s preseason rankings

Golfstat had the Tide leading by two shots when Brooke Pancake reached the final hole. Actually, they led by one stroke, and both Pancake and Tessa Teachman faced 20-footers for birdie. A pair of two-putts later, ’Bama had the trophy. The 15-under 849 total broke a school record for relation to par, and also set the 54-hole course record at Traditions Golf Club, shattering the previous mark by 34 shots.

It was barely enough to top LSU. The spring season, remember, also ended with a one-shot victory, with Purdue shocking USC at the NCAA Championship. The Boilermakers’ success has rubbed off on other programs looking to knock off Pac-10 powerhouses.

“Purdue’s victory had a lot to do with us getting over that (mental) hurdle,” Potter said.

Alabama won the SEC Championship last April, finished third at NCAAs and returned its top three players from last season. Those three – Camilla Lennarth (T-4), Pancake (T-4) and Jennifer Kirby (T-9) – finished inside the top 10 at the Fall Preview. Lennarth and Pancake each shot school-record 65s during the event. Kirby posted four birdies on the back nine to shoot 66. 

With little wind and greens rolling at a “fair speed,” conditions at Traditions Golf Club couldn’t have been much easier. Potter said the design of the course put a premium on distance control with approach shots, a strength of his squad. 

The Tide enjoy unprecedented depth this season. Their No. 5 player this week, Courtney Harter, finished 5 over for the tournament. Harter is the only member of the team who owns a college title.

“The key to winning in college golf is more depth,” said Potter, who noted that the 65s Pancake and Lennarth posted would’ve meant nothing if their teammates hadn’t backed it up.

Southern Cal finished a distant third at 8 under. Defending NCAA champion Purdue, the top-ranked team in Golfweek’s preseason rankings, tied for 10th after having no players crack the top 25. Maude-Aimee LeBlanc, No. 4 in Golfweek’s preseason rankings, shot rounds of 82-75-71 and tied for 67th.

UCLA, which finished the 2009-10 season No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, was seventh. Stephanie Kono tied for 13th after rounds of 70-70-73.

LSU’s Megan McChrystal notched her fourth career individual title with a 10-under 206 total, two shots ahead of Vanderbilt’s Marina Alex. McChrystal was a second-team selection for Golfweek’s preseason rankings.

Arizona State has only three players on its current roster, two of whom, Carlota Ciganda (T-19) and Guilia Molinaro (T-50), competed as individuals at the Fall Preview.

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