Women’s Spring Preview: SEC
During the month of January, Golfweek will preview the spring season for each conference. Today, we look at the Southeastern Conference:
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5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Top of the class: Arkansas
• Player to watch: Stephanie Meadow, Alabama
• Freshman to watch: Simin Feng, Vanderbilt
• Conference championship: April 18-20, Greystone G&CC (Founder’s Course), Hoover, Ala.
• Past champions (since 2009): Alabama (2013), Auburn (2012), Auburn (2011), Alabama (2010), Auburn (2009)
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(Golfweek/Sagarin rank in parentheses)
• Arkansas (No. 9): The Razorbacks can contend more often if all contribute. The highlight of the season was a win at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate. Emily Tubert is a great leader for this team, but Regina Plasencia has come on strong in her sophomore season, too.
• Alabama (No. 10): The Crimson Tide hit a rough patch mid-season, but earned a redeeming victory at Landfall. Strong trio of scorers on this team includes Stephanie Meadow, Emma Talley and Janie Jackson.
• South Carolina (No. 14): On the cusp of a great fall, and South Carolina can build on that in the spring. The Gamecocks are deep though young. Two top 5s, and a lot of SEC competition awaiting for the spring.
• Vanderbilt (No. 15): Disappointing finishes at Fall Preview and Stanford, but a T-3 at Mason Rudolph and runner-up at the Tar Heel went a long way toward canceling those out. The Commodores have a solid core in place that includes freshman Simin Feng.
• Kentucky (No. 17): Started the season with a bang by winning the “Mo”Morial. Freshman Haley Mills took the individual title there, too. It showed that Kentucky could contend.
• Florida (No. 18): It was a mediocre fall for the Gators, except for a Cougar Classic win. To find the same amount of success as last season, Florida needs more help from Camilla Hedberg.
• LSU (No. 22): Gave Schooner and Alamo titles a run. The Tigers also took home two individual medals – Lindsay Gahm at The Alamo Invitational and Madelene Sagstrom in the Schooner Fall Classic. A tough squad.
• Mississippi State (No. 25): Blowout Old Waverly win was fall highlight. Mississippi State was a factor in two of its other three starts. This team has done an excellent job of carrying momentum from last postseason into this year. Standout Ally McDonald is a big reason for that.
• Auburn (No. 29): The Tigers never really contended during the fall but consistently lined up against the nation’s top teams. What Auburn needs most is a consistent low score (or pair of scores) to lead the charge.
• Texas A&M (No. 36): A pair of top 5s (“Mo”Morial and Alamo Invitational) were Texas A&M’s best finishes of the season. Katerina Ruzickova led the Aggies in scoring, but she needs some backup.
• Georgia (No. 44): Finished in top half of field only once. Georgia’s young team must grow up fast to compete with tough SEC competition in the spring.
• Tennessee (No. 66): Feeling the loss of Erica Popson, who graduated last spring. Best finish was fourth at the Mercedes-Benz.
• Ole Miss (No. 68): Alison Hovatter and Abby Newton led the team, but Ole Miss never finished in the top half of the field. Must work on going low in the spring.
• Missouri (No. 83): Turned season around with a victory at the Pat Bradley Invitational. It proves Mizzou can contend in the spring.
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A bit of a surprise to see any team other than Alabama not at the top of the league at any point in the season. No. 9 Arkansas has been a surprise and has the honor of being the top team heading into the spring season, but Alabama is only one spot back. In all, nine teams in the SEC stand among the top 30 of the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, which makes this league very interesting. If Missouri can get things turned around a bit, we could see all 14 teams in the postseason. Still, expect Alabama to rise to the top come championship season.