Alabama, Meadow top NCAA Championships picks
The 72-hole NCAA Women’s Championship begins May 21 at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens, Ga. Golfweek writers made their picks for the individual and team winners.
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Beth Ann Baldry
Team: We’re in the South, which means a hot team like Alabama feels right at home in nearby Athens, Ga. The Tide have won seven titles this season, including the NCAA East Regional and the SEC Championship. With junior Stephanie Meadow playing some of the best golf of her young career, Team 'Bama should be brimming with confidence.
If they couldn’t return to Nashville, site of their first NCAA crown, head coach Mic Potter said the University of Georgia’s course is the next best place. Expect familiarity to play a key role during the next four days.
Individual winner: Georgia’s Emilie Burger will be flying solo this week on her home course, making this a bittersweet experience for the senior from Hoschton, Ga. No one in the field, however, has as much local knowledge as Burger.
She’s ranked 16th by Golfweek and has two victories this season. She finished 10th at the Fall Preview, held on UGA’s course.
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Team: It’s hard to go with anyone but Alabama. The defending national champion is in a comfortable environment in Athens, Ga., and brings momentum to the season finale. The Crimson Tide’s margin of victory might even be in the double digits.
Individual winner: Stephanie Meadow is peaking at the right time. The Alabama junior will be hard to beat in a 72-hole event.
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Team: USC is a postseason team, and one that came so close to winning it all last year. The Trojans could seek a bit of revenge this week, and there’s not a weak spot on this roster. The biggest competition is going to come from Alabama, and I’m predicting another very close final round – hopefully just as exciting as last year.
Individual winner: No player is more consistent than Stephanie Meadow right now, even top-ranked Annie Park from USC. There’s a lot to be said for experience at the 72-hole national championship, which is where Meadow will have the edge on Park this week.