As the college golf season gets ready to resume, Golfweek will preview each automatic-qualifier conference in Division I, offering picks to win, midseason All-Conference teams and more.
For all of our conference previews, click here.
First up: American Athletic Conference
• • •
Conference championship: April 23-25, Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead), Palm Harbor, Fla.
Defending champion: South Florida
Team rankings: UCF (56), Houston (58), East Carolina (74), South Florida (75), Cincinnati (83), SMU (82), Memphis (120), Connecticut (167), Temple (207)
Midseason All-Conference team: Timothy Conover, East Carolina (135); Austin Squires, Cincinnati (138); Papito Gonzalez, Houston (150); Juuso Kahlos, UCF (206); Manuel Elvira, UCF (238)
What to expect: One could argue that as many as six teams could win the AAC title this spring. UCF is the top-ranked team in the conference, but also played the third easiest fall schedule among AAC teams, according to the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Still, the Knights have some nice young talent in freshman Bobby Bai, and sophomores Donnie Trosper and Kyler Tate (a Florida transfer) to go along with Kahlos and Elvira (brother of European pro Nacho Elvira). Houston annually has one of the biggest rosters in Division I golf, so it’s no surprise the Cougars have a deep team, which is led by juniors Papito Gonzalez and Michael Perras. South Florida is the defending champion, and will look to get back on track after a disappointing fall.
Pick to win: UCF
• • •
Conference championship: April 16-18, Hammock Beach Resort, Palm Coast, Fla.
Defending champion: Houston
Team rankings: UCF (24), SMU (34), East Carolina (45), Houston (56), Tulane (76), Memphis (91), Cincinnati (112), Tulsa (117), South Florida (160)
Midseason All-Conference team: Lindsey McCurdy, SMU (42); Maria Balcazar, UCF (50); Lisa Pettersson, East Carolina (57); Ashley Holder, UCF (60); Kenzie Wright, SMU (100)
What to expect: SMU boasts the top player in the conference in McCurdy, a senior, but UCF proved to be a little deeper in the fall with all five players ranked 377th or better. The Knights challenged themselves with the 17th toughest schedule in the country. Don’t count out East Carolina or defending champ Houston, either.
Pick to win: UCF