2013 preview: 5 key questions for college women
As the spring season approaches, we take a look at some key questions facing women's college golf:
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1. Can UCLA right the ship?
After a seven-win season in 2011-12, UCLA never finished higher than eighth in the fall of 2012. With the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship in October and Tiffany Lua sidelined with an injury, there were too many moving pieces for UCLA in the fall. There’s an excellent possibility the Bruins will redeem themselves in the spring, especially if Lua is healthy. Which leads to the next question: Can UCLA win the ’ship?
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2. Can Washington maintain Golfweek’s top ranking?
Washington was the surprise team of the fall, winning twice and finishing second twice after failing to advance to the NCAA Championship in the spring. The Huskies squad is competitive, and there was a different lineup almost every time the team teed it up. It’s an excellent sign that the fall wasn’t a fluke. Anything could happen in the spring, but chances are good Washington will be a factor in the postseason.
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3. Will another first-time team win the NCAA Championship?
Two of the past three NCAA team champions have won the national title for the first time in the history of their respective programs. It’s not out of the question to think that might happen again, especially after a look at the rankings. Washington is the No. 1 team for the first time in veteran coach Mary Lou Mulflur’s 30-year career, and Oklahoma maintains the No. 2 spot. That’s the highest ranking the Sooners ever have attained. All signs point toward an interesting postseason.
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4. Who will be named 2013 Player of the Year?
Duke's Lindy Duncan took that honor in 2012, based largely on a spring season that included three victories. Duncan enters the spring at No. 8 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings after three top-10s in four fall starts. She’s not out of the running. Texas Tech's Kimberly Kaufman is No. 1 after earning her first collegiate victory, at the Landfall Tradition. She’s a consistent player who doesn’t make many mistakes, so it could be hard to knock her off her perch in the spring. Other strong candidates include Washington’s SooBin Kim (No. 2) and USC’s Kyung Kim (No. 7). Those two players won two of the biggest tournaments on the West Coast in the fall. SooBin Kim claimed the Edean Ihlanfeldt title while Kyung Kim won the Stanford Intercollegiate.
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5. Can Clemson make an impact in its first season of competition?
The long-awaited moment has arrived for head coach J.T. Horton and his new Clemson women’s program. The Tigers begin competition in the fall after having signed four new players in the past fall, all in the top 50 in the Golfweek Junior Rankings. It will be interesting to see how quickly this team becomes a factor in the ACC, and in women’s golf in general.