ANNIKA Intercollegiate: Players, teams to watch at women's college golf's premier event

Steven Gibbons/USGA

ANNIKA Intercollegiate: Players, teams to watch at women's college golf's premier event

College

ANNIKA Intercollegiate: Players, teams to watch at women's college golf's premier event

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MINNEAPOLIS – Just a few weeks into the 2019-20 college golf season and we’ve already got a preview of what May’s NCAA Championship may look like.

The ANNIKA Intercollegiate presented by 3M, held annually since 2014, boasts what may be the most competitive field in Div. I women’s golf. This year’s loaded field competing at the Royal Golf Club on Sept. 15-18 features last season’s national champion Duke, runner-up Wake Forest and four other teams in the top 10 of Golfweek’s preseason women’s rankings: No. 1 USC, No. 4 Texas, No. 5 UCLA and No. 10 Arizona State.

No. 11 South Carolina, No. 14 Arizona, No. 26 Arkansas, defending ANNIKA champion Alabama, host Minnesota and Virginia round out the 12-team field.

“This event offers a fantastic platform to expand my Foundation’s mission to establish greater playing opportunities for junior and college golfers alike,” said golf legend Annika Sorenstam, the 1991 NCAA Champion and co-Player of the Year. “It’s great to see many of the girls who played in our ANNIKA Invitational junior series return to play with their college teams. We’re excited to work with 3M to make the ANNIKA Intercollegiate a ‘can’t miss’ kick-off to the NCAA golf season.”

Here’s everything you need to know for this year’s event:

Favorites to win

Teams

Duke

Head coach Dan Brooks has been in charge of the program since 1984 and has won seven national titles in the last 20 years. His 136 team victories is the most in NCAA Div. I women’s golf history.

Don’t be surprised if he earns No. 137 on Wednesday.

The Blue Devils return all but one starter from last year’s national champion squad, while adding two highly-touted recruits – Megan Furtney and Erica Shepherd – who won this summer’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball together.

USC

Competing with Duke for the title of “deepest team in America” are the Trojans, who won an astounding seven times last season and return five Golfweek All-Americans.

Yes, you read that right.

Second-year coach Justin Silverstein begins the season with seniors Allisen Corpuz and Aiko Leong, juniors Gabriela Ruffels, Jennifer Chang and Alyaa Abdulghany.

Texas

All five players who competed for the Longhorns at last year’s NCAA Championship are back. After earning the No. 1 seed in match play, Texas suffered a disappointing loss in the quarterfinals, ending an incredibly successful season that featured six wins (tied school record), a third consecutive Big 12 Conference title and the program’s first NCAA Regional title.

“From a talent standpoint we’re the same, but we’re a very motivated team the way the season ended last year,” said head coach Ryan Murphy. “I’m excited to get the season started.”

Individuals

Gabriela Ruffels, junior, USC

The junior had a lights-out summer, winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the prestigious North & South Women’s Amateur.

Emilia Migliaccio, junior, Wake Forest

Inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion Jennifer Kupcho cast a big shadow, but Migliaccio really made a name for herself at the end of last season for the Demon Deacons. Migliaccio finished third (8 under) at the Cougar Classic last week, Wake Forest’s first event of the season. She also won the Pan Am Games in August.

Olivia Mehaffey, senior, Arizona State

The three-time All-American Sun Devil isn’t afraid of staunch competition. Mehaffey earned wins at last season’s Pac-12 Championship and NCAA Norman Regional.

Past champions

2018

Alabama: -28 (836)
Patty Tavatanakit (UCLA): -13 (203)

2017

Arkansas: -16 (848)
Maria Fassi (Arkansas): -10 (206)

2016

USC: -24 (840)
Maria Fassi (Arkansas): -11 (205)

2015

USC: -36 (828)
Karen Chung (USC): -12 (204)

2014

South Carolina: -10 (854)
Justine Dreher (South Carolina): -9 (207)

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