Five things: NCAA Women's West Regional

USC players and coaches celebrate after winning the 2011 Pac-10 Women's Championship.

USC players and coaches celebrate after winning the 2011 Pac-10 Women's Championship.

We’ve previewed two of the regionals already this week, which means just one remains. Today I present five things to keep an eye on from the West Regional, which will be played at Washington National Golf Club in Auburn, Wash., home of the Washington Huskies.

1.) For USC this will be an exhibition. The Ladies of Troy earned the No. 1 overall seed, and rightfully so with their No. 1 overall regular-season finish in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. USC never finished worse than third in nine starts this year, and enters regionals after winning the Pac-10 Conference Championship. This team won’t take this tournament lightly, even though it’s the national championship that really has this team’s attention. This may be the most talented team Andrea Gaston has had while at USC. Don’t get down on the Trojans if they fail to win the regional, because they have already proved they are one of the top three teams to beat at Nationals.

2.) This regional is extremely top heavy. Seven of the top eight teams in the field are all ranked in the top 20 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. UC Davis, the No. 8 seed, comes in to the regional ranked 26th. The top eight teams in the field have combined to win 15 tournaments, with Georgia being the only team to fail to win a tournament this year. Going down the field you can really see the quality from this field: Texas A&M (27), Oklahoma (25), Oregon (33), South Carolina (36), Washington (39), Denver (43) and Tulsa (46). The top eight teams need to play well, because there are plenty of lower seeds that are good enough to play their way in. 

3.) How will Texas A&M handle the pressure? The Aggies will head out west as the nine seed and hopefully will finish in the top eight. After all, the Aggies are hosting this year’s national championship on their home course, the Traditions Club. Aggies players are going to have to play well in a stacked field if they want to play for a national title at home, however. Texas A&M will have the tough task of trying to block out the thought of nationals, or they’ll most likely be volunteering on their own course. It will be interesting to see the Aggies play knowing that they’ll have a home course advantage for this year’s national championship.

4.) Amy Anderson will get her chance to prove she’s a hidden gem. Playing at North Dakota State has its advantages and disadvantages. For one, Anderson, the former U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur champion, is the best player on the course everywhere she goes. Unfortunately, that can be a negative as well because she never sees any tough competition. At the West Regional, Anderson will be playing as an individual and will get to see how she stacks up against several top players from top teams. This year Anderson compiled a head-to-head record of 602-25-5, but only faced two girls ranked in the top 100 (she split 1-1). Currently, Anderson ranks 67th in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings but has a chance to climb if she has a top-10 finish. If the hidden gem from North Dakota can move past regionals, she will have the rare opportunity of trying to win a national championship to go with the USGA trophy she earned just two summers ago.

5.) Which Georgia team shows up to regionals? The Bulldogs may be the No. 4 seed out west and have a ranking of 17 in the country, but don’t be fooled. Despite playing the fourth toughest schedule this year, the team had only three top-5 finishes all year. Georgia was inconsistent this year, and at times looked like a team that was unable to score well for three straight days. Looking at Georgia’s results, the team either has a great first round but fails to back up that play in Rounds 2 and 3, or the team puts itself in a hole in Round 1 and fights back the next two days. You can’t win a regional after only 18 holes, but you sure can blow your chances of making it out of one. Georgia has the talent to win the regional and play exceptionally well. On the flip side, they have showed that they could also be a high seed to falter and cost themselves a trip to nationals as well. 

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