Preview: Golfweek Women's Conference Challenge

UCLA's head coach Carrie Forsyth

UCLA's head coach Carrie Forsyth

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 

Tee times

Click here for Round 1 pairings and tee times for the Golfweek Conference Challenge

A look at the 18 teams participating in this year’s Golfweek Conference Challenge, which begins Monday at Red Sky Golf Club’s Fazio Course in Wolcott, Colo.

• • •

UCLA

Conference: Pac-12

Coach: Carrie Forsyth

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 1

The scoop: Golfweek’s preseason No. 2 team plays for the first time at Red Sky. The Bruins finished with a share of the NCAA West Regional title last spring, played at Colorado National Golf Club in Erie, Colo., so they know mountain golf. UCLA only has four players this week as senior Tiffany Lua sits out with a wrist injury and sophomore Erynne Lee is in Antalya, Turkey representing the United States at the Women’s World Team Amateur.

• • •

UC Davis

Conference: Big West

Coach: Anna Temple

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 31

The scoop: The Aggies fought mightily for this title last year, eventually falling five shots short of Oklahoma. UC Davis has a new coach this season in Temple, but returns a tough senior duo in Demi Runas and Amy Simanton.

• • •

Oklahoma

Conference: Big 12

Coach: Veronique Drouin-Luttrell

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 25

The scoop: Oklahoma opens its season at the Conference Challenge for the second consecutive year. After winning last year’s event, the Sooners went on to win twice more, including at the Big 12 Conference Championship. Junior Chirapat Jao-Javanil also claimed the individual title last fall before winning the NCAA Championship. Oklahoma was No. 13 in Golfweek’s preseason rankings.

• • •

Florida State

Conference: ACC

Coach: Amy Bond

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 29

The scoop: The Seminole roster is a story of senior Jessica Negron and the youngsters. Negron, who has six top-10 career individual finishes and was T-7 at last spring’s ACC Championship, will be joined in Vail by freshman Olivia Hullert, sophomores Laure Castelain and Carlton Kuhlo and senior Mary Beth Ramsay, who has made eight career starts with Florida State. The Conference Challenge is Florida State’s season opener.

• • •

San Diego State

Conference: Mountain West

Coach: Leslie Spalding

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 48

The scoop: The Aztecs finished a disappointing 13th at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational on Sept. 18, but can play better than that. Senior Christine Wong is the star of Spalding’s roster. She finished her junior season ranked No. 63 in Golfweek’s rankings, but started slow last week. Underclassmen Emma Henrickson and Kristina Lynn can be good role players.

• • •

Mississippi

Conference: SEC

Coach: Michele Drinkard

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 38

The scoop: Returns for the second year to Red Sky. Since last year’s tournament, the Rebels have lost long-hitting Natalie Gleadall, but a long hitter like senior Ericka Schneider, can fare well on the Fazio course. Alison Hovatter and Haley Sanders also are key.

• • •

Tulsa

Conference: Conference USA

Coach: Randy Keck

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 37

The scoop: Another team that contended in last year’s down-to-the-wire finish. Senior Kristina Merkle finished T-2 individually, and will be a big factor again this year. Tulsa finished ninth at its home opener, the Dale McNamara Invitational, on Sept. 18 before heading west.

• • •

Pepperdine

Conference: West Coast Conference

Coach: Laurie Gibbs

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 26

The scoop: A deep and capable roster, led by junior Grace Na, who finished T-2 at this event last year. Freshman Marissa Chow was impressive in her first start with the Wave, too, finishing T-13 at the Branch Law. At No. 19 in Golfweek’s preseason rankings, Pepperdine carries the third-best ranking in the field (behind UCLA and Oklahoma).

• • •

Denver

Conference: Sun Belt

Coach: Sammi Chergo

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 44

The scoop: Something like a home team. Returners Kelly Drack and Rachel Watton lead a squad that also could get some help from freshman Elyse Smidinger, one of the top junior golfers on the East Coast. Transitioning to high-altitude golf won’t be an issue for the Pioneers.

• • •

Texas-San Antonio

Conference: Southland

Coach: Carrie Parnaby

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 51

The scoop: The Roadrunners won four times last season, and can improve this season from last fall’s 12th-place finish at Red Sky. Fabiola Arriaga returns as last year’s leader in scoring with help from Taylor Newlin and Paola Valerio.

• • •

Campbell

Conference: Big South

Coach: John Crooks

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 52

The scoop: The only team in the field that also played in Golfweek’s Program Challenge earlier this month. The Camels handily won that event, and if that team shows up in Colorado, it will fare fine again.

• • •

Georgia State

Conference: Colonial

Coach: Cathy Mant

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 82

The scoop: This season will be about finding a player to step into the hole left by Charlotte Lorentzen, who graduated in May with the lowest career scoring average in school history. Top returners on Georgia State’s roster include Lauren Court and Laura Sanchez.

• • •

East Tennessee State

Conference: Atlantic Sun

Coach: Stefanie Shelton

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 68

The scoop: Finished in the top half of the field at the Cardinal Cup to open the season. Senior Chloe Garner and junior Lourdes Lopez were a solid leading tandem at that event. Freshman Vivienne Chin makes her second start with the team this week. She can be a consistent fourth score.

• • •

South Florida

Conference: Big East

Coach: Marci Kornegay

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 53

The scoop: A team on the rise with a talented under-the-radar player in Christina Miller. The junior won twice last fall. Shena Yang and Amy West are two more reliable returners from the team that won last year’s Big East Championship.

• • •

Nebraska

Conference: Big 10

Coach: Robin Krapfl

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 67

The scoop: Lost a top scorer at the end of last season in Madeleine Sheils, but Steffi Neisen, who was second in stroke play at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, is capable of picking up that position. She’s one of two upperclassmen in Nebraska’s lineup this week. The other is junior Katelyn Wright.

• • •

San Jose State

Conference: Big 10

Coach: John Dormann

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 58

The scoop: Look for big things from freshman Cha Cha Willhoite, who finished fifth at the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic on Sept. 11 to start her Spartan career. San Jose State finished fourth at that tournament with help from a 16th-place finish by Megan Osland, who also is in the lineup at Red Sky.

• • •

Furman

Conference: Southern Conference

Coach: Kelley Hester

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 88

The scoop: The Paladins can count on senior Laura Wearn for leadership. Under new head coach Kelley Hester, Furman will be looking to build on its season-opening 23rd-place finish at the Cougar Classic.

• • •

Missouri State

Conference: Missouri Valley

Coach: Kevin Kane

2011-12 final Golfweek rank: 98

The scoop: Returning for the second time in three years. A young team will try to recover from the graduation of Catherine Dolan, one of the most talented mid-major players in the country.

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