Women’s spring preview: Big 12 Conference
Sunday, January 5, 2014
During the month of January, Golfweek will preview the spring season for each conference. Check out all of the previews here.
Today, we look at the Big 12:
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5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Top of the class: Oklahoma
• Player to watch: Julie Yang, Oklahoma State
• Freshman to watch: Alexandra Kaui, Oklahoma
• Conference championship: April 25-27, University of Texas GC, Austin
• Past champions (since 2009): Oklahoma (2012), Texas (2011), Texas A&M (2010), Oklahoma State (2009)
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(Golfweek/Sagarin rank in parentheses)
- Oklahoma (No. 8): More broken records in Norman this fall, including four at the Alamo Invitational, which the Sooners won by eight shots. Oklahoma is solid top to bottom, and has benefited greatly from the addition of freshman Alexandra Kaui. Also don’t forget former NCAA championship Chirapat Jao-Javanil (2011), a senior this year.
- Oklahoma State (No. 11): The Cowgirls were in the mix week in, week out. Started the season with a third-place finish at the Dale McNamara Fall Preview and a runner-up at the Windy City. Finally broke through with a victory at the Schooner Classic. Freshman Casie Cathrea and sophomore Julie Yang delivered.
- Iowa State (No. 19): The Cyclones quietly put together a very solid fall, with finishes of third, sixth and fourth. Iowa State stumbled a bit with a 14th-place finish at the Landfall Tradition, but the team can overcome that and get back on the right track this spring.
- Kansas (No. 34): A different player went low for Kansas in each start this fall. Kansas won its own Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational and had runner-up finishes at the Cardinal Cup and Diane Thomason Invitational.
- TCU (No. 43): The Horned Frogs have gems in Sanna Nuutinen, a focused and talented senior from Finland, and sophomore Kortnie Maxoutopoulis, a transfer from Rutgers. The spring should look a lot more like the third-place finish TCU garnered at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. After that, the Frogs stumbled to a pair of 11th-place finishes in their next three starts.
- Texas Tech (No. 53): The Raiders suffered a big loss with the graduation of Kim Kaufman and Gabby Dominguez. The Dick McGuire was a tough start (Tech finished 11th) but the team rebounded well to win the Challenge at Onion Creek and end the season with a runner-up finish at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown.
- Baylor (No. 60): The loss of Lauren Taylor to the pros hurt, but Baylor never finished in top half of field. Head coach Jay Goble has added two players for the spring, Louise Gateau-Chovelon and Allison Kuntz, which should give this roster a spark.
- Texas (No. 64): The Longhorns played a tough fall schedule, but were never a factor. Texas posted finishes of 14th, 13th, 13th, 14th. Natalie Karcher and Bertine Strauss were low scorers, but Julia Beck and Tezira Abe are capable of going lower in the spring.
- Kansas State (No. 88): It was an up-and-down season for Kansas State, with a top-10 finish a the Ptarmigan Ram and a runner-up at the Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational to start the season. The team finished 15th of 17 in Las Vegas, however, so the key for the spring is consistency.
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Lance Ringler weighs in on the conference title race
There has not been a dominant team at the Big 12 Conference Championship in recent years – four different winners since 2009. There are several teams that could be in the hunt heading into the final day, but right now I will go with the experienced Sooners. Oklahoma has the best lineup in the league with all five players ranked inside of the top 102 of the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.