It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Much to Andy Williams’ chagrin, no, I’m not talking about Christmas. I’m talking about college golf’s conference championship season.
While most of the tournaments are either just now getting underway or are set to begin this weekend, a handful of teams have already punched their ticket to the postseason’s regional play. Thirty-one men’s and 27 women’s college golf programs will earn automatic regional qualifications by winning their respective conference tournaments.
So far, the biggest story comes from our friends at Sam Houston State.
The Bearkats won the Southland Conference title on Wednesday, April 17, earning their first-ever NCAA postseason berth in program history.
And speaking of the NCAA Championships, this year’s event in Fayetteville, Ark., will be fan-friendly thanks to Tyson Foods. Tickets for the 2019 NCAA Golf Championships will be provided on a complementary basis for all attendees over the two-week event hosted by the University of Arkansas from May 17-29 at Blessings Golf Club.
But wait! There’s more.
The women’s Division I individual champion will receive a sponsor exemption to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G. The winner will get to test her abilities against the LPGA’s best June 27-30 at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark.
Golfweek takes a loop around the country to update you on all the latest news in the college game.
Only one conference championship has been decided on the men’s side, with Prairie View A&M defending its title to win consecutive SWAC titles. The Panthers’ Laurence Crea claimed the individual title at 2-over par. You can see the full results page here.
Golfweek would also like to congratulate Oklahoma State’s Viktor Hovland, who was the low amateur last week at the Masters. The reigning U.S. Amateur champion and nation’s No. 1 player shot 72-71-71-71 at Augusta National en route to a 3-under, T-32 finish.
And speaking of Hovland, the junior was one of 10 semifinalists named for the prestigious Ben Hogan Award, given annually to the best male college golfer.
On a somber note, former University of Notre Dame men’s golf coach Noel O’Sullivan died Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at the age of 87.
Before becoming a coach, O’Sullivan served in the Army during the Korean War, then earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Notre Dame. O’Sullivan then became an assistant professor in 1964 while also working in the guidance department. He took over the men’s golf program in 1973 and led the Fighting Irish to 11 tournament victories in 15 years.
Fourteen women’s programs have already qualified for NCAA regional play by winning their conference tournaments. You can see the full results page here.
Arizona State’s Olivia Mehaffey defeated Stanford’s Albane Valenzuela in a playoff to win the Pac-12 individual title while USC ran away with the team title, defeating runner-up Arizona by 11 strokes. The Trojans had four players finish inside the top ten en route to their seventh conference title.
At Hilton Head’s Moss Creek Golf Club, Furman got one for the thumb with their fifth consecutive SoCon. Meanwhile in Florida, Houston dominated the field for its third American Athletic conference title in the last four years, besting runner-up Central Florida by 30 shots.