Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Despite an interesting fall season in college golf – pour one out for Spikemark – we made it to the spring season.

North Carolina and Wake Forest are the top-ranked teams in professor Mark Broadie’s Division I men’s and women’s golf rankings, respectively. Arkansas freshman Maria Jose Marin is the top-ranked female while Georgia Tech senior Christo Lamprecht is the new top-ranked make following the turning professional of Alabama sophomore Nick Dunlap.

As expected, the Vanderbilt men had a strong fall, as did a deep Auburn team. Stanford hasn’t gone anywhere on the women’s side and is one of three Pac-12 squads in the top five.

Surprises included Washington, Ole Miss and East Tennessee State on the men’s side, and on the women’s side, UCLA and Florida. All of those teams enter the spring with top-10 rankings.

Disappointing falls were had by the Stanford men, who were without star Michael Thorbjornsen because of a back injury, and Baylor women, who are No. 62 in the country despite a preseason top-15 ranking. But Thorbjornsen is back, Arizona State has added top junior Wenyi Ding and Auburn will welcome past ANWA winner Anna Davis a semester early. And those are just a few of the many storylines.

Here’s everything you need to know in the Power 5 conferences, and about the top mid-majors, heading into the second half of the 2023-24 campaign:

The Williams Cup Day 2

WILMINGTON, NC – OCTOBER 22: David Ford of the University of North Carolina hits a tee shot on the 14th hole during the second round of the The Williams Cup presented by STITCH Golf NCAA men’s golf tournament at Eagle Point Golf Club on October 22, 2022 in Wilmington, North Carolina. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

ACC

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Championship info: April 19-22, Charlotte Country Club, Charlotte, North Carolina

Recent champions: Georgia Tech (2023), Wake Forest (2022), Clemson (2021), Georgia Tech (2019), Georgia Tech (2018), Duke (2017), Clemson (2016), Georgia Tech (2015), Georgia Tech (2014)

Team rankings: North Carolina (1), Georgia Tech (10), Florida State (11), Virginia (12), Duke (23), Notre Dame (39), Wake Forest (42), Louisville (45), North Carolina State (62), Virginia Tech (83), Clemson (99), Boston College (131)

Midseason All-Conference team: Christo Lamprecht, Georgia Tech (2); David Ford, North Carolina (3); Maxwell Ford, North Carolina (4); Sebastian Moss, Louisville (12); Kale Fontenot, Georgia Tech (22); Gray Albright, Florida State (36)

What to watch: No. 1 rankings aren’t foreign to North Carolina, but neither is peaking at the right team. The Tar Heels have zero ACC titles and no trips to the NCAA final to show for their recent uber-talented squads. Could this year be different? North Carolina brought in Georgia transfer Maxwell Ford to pair with his twin brother, David. The two combined for six top-10s, including David’s win at the Williams Cup, in the fall. Really the only concern is the fifth spot, which senior Peter Fountain has struggled to nail down; he’s ranked outside the top 200 in the rankings. But considering the Tar Heels had just three losses throughout a difficult fall slate, they’ll be in the mix as long as their top four, which also includes Austin Greaser and Dylan Menante, are healthy. … Georgia Tech hung onto a top-10 national ranking despite losing two key players from last year’s national runner-up team. Lamprecht has been a force, winning arguably the two toughest events of the fall, Olympia Fields and the Hogan. Fontenot, a freshman, might be over-ranked, but his East Lake triumph shows he can contribute some low rounds for the Jackets. … We barely got a good look at a full-strength Florida State, which had senior Fredrik Kjettrup out for the first three events while Walker Cupper Jack Bigham also missed significant time. When the Seminoles had perfect attendance from its key players, however, they were impressive, winning stroke-play titles at the Stephens Cup and East Lake Cup while winning the overall crown at Stephens. If Cole Anderson snaps out of his funk, this is a top-5 team nationally and potentially the ACC champ. … A couple of top-10s from Ben James were nice, but the sophomore will need to contribute more – and be like the guy who won the South Beach Amateur during the winter break – if Virginia wants to get back to NCAA match play. A fall-capping win at the Golf Club of Georgia was a nice confidence booster heading into the break. … Duke was solid in the fall, not finishing outside the top five in five events and winning its home tournament, the Rod Myers. There is great balance in the starting lineup, as expected, but getting just one top-10 out of the duo of Kelly Chinn and Bryan Kim isn’t going to cut it once we get to crunch time. … Notre Dame came out hot in the fall with a win at the Folds of Honor, and though the Irish cooled off, Jacob Modleski’s Jones Cup win in January could signal a huge spring for the freshman. If that happens, Notre Dame can make it to La Costa. … It’s a similar story for Wake Forest, which again finds itself battling the .500 rule. Michael Brennan had a win in the fall, but he wasn’t better than T-38 in his other three starts. If he can’t solve his inconsistency, the Demon Deacons are in trouble. … Louisville’s trend of having a potential first-team All-American on the roster continues as Moss won twice and added two other top-10s in the fall. The Cardinals’ depth, however, will likely keep them out of match play at ACCs and the NCAA Championship field.

Pick to win: North Carolina

The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican - Round One

BELLEAIR, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 09: Amateur Rachel Kuehn of the United States watches her shot from the seventh tee during the first round of The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican at Pelican Golf Club on November 09, 2023 in Belleair, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

WOMEN

Championship info: April 18-21, Porters Neck Country Club, Wilmington, North Carolina

Recent champions: Clemson (2023), Wake Forest (2022), Duke (2021), Wake Forest (2019), Duke (2018), Duke (2017), Virginia (2016), Virginia (2015), Duke (2014)

Team rankings: Wake Forest (1), Clemson (15), Duke (16), Virginia (23), North Carolina (28), Florida State (31), Virginia Tech (37), Louisville (47), Miami (48), Notre Dame (73), Boston College (84)

Midseason All-Conference Team: Amanda Sambach, Virginia (6); Carolina Chacarra, Wake Forest (9); Lottie Woad, Florida State (10); Savannah Grewal, Clemson (16); Sara Byrne, Miami (22)

What to watch: The reigning NCAA champs may have lost graduates Emilia Migliaccio and Lauren Walsh, but freshman Macy Pate’s four finishes of T-12 or better have kept the Deacs atop the women’s game. Returning starters Rachel Kuehn, Carolina Chacarra and Mimi Rhodes join Pate in the top 40 of the individual rankings; Chacarra is ninth thanks to five top-15s. As a team, Wake has been super consistent, winning twice and losing to just six teams all fall. … Clemson closed the fall with a co-win at the Landfall Tradition, but the Tigers now must figure out how to maintain their ranking after losing their best player, Grewal, to the pros. Top-70 players Annabelle Pancake and Chloe Holder remain, so all is not lost, but it’s unlikely Clemson repeats as ACC champ. … Duke had an up-and-down fall, tying Clemson for win at Landfall and placing fourth at Windy City but also beating just three teams at Annika and finishing last at the seven-team Stephens Cup. Phoebe Brinker, who was among four co-winners at the Annika, was a bright spot, as was senior transfer Emma McMyler. … Virginia seemed to have its final-round problems, which plagued the Cavaliers last season, behind them. But then they shot 11 over and dropped from the lead to fifth on the final day of the Stanford Intercollegiate. Still, this team is battle-tested by a tough schedule, and if they beef up the Nos. 4 and 5 spots, they’ll be fine, especially if Sambach – first at Glass City, runner-up at Stanford – continues playing like a potential Annika Award winner. … Getting a win on Golf Channel at St. Andrews was a big step for North Carolina, which has some decent depth behind fifth-year senior Kayla Smith. This squad could get better as the spring progresses. … Don’t sleep on Florida State despite a fall in which the Seminoles didn’t finish better than seventh. Woad continues to dazzle, senior Charlotte Heath is way better than the No. 109 player in the country and head coach Amy Bond finally has Augusta transfer Mirabel Ting (six top-10s last spring) eligible.

Pick to win: Wake Forest

World Amateur Team Golf Championships - Eisenhower Trophy - Day One

PARIS, FRANCE – AUGUST 31: Herman Wibe Sekne of Norway plays his tee shot on the 17th hole during Day One of the 2022 World Amateur Team Golf Championships – Eisenhower Trophy competition at Le Golf National on August 31, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Big Ten

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Championship info: April 26-28, Scioto Golf Club, Columbus, Ohio

Recent champions: Illinois (2023), Illinois (2022), Illinois (2021), Illinois (2019), Illinois (2018), Illinois (2017), Illinois (2016), Illinois (2015), Minnesota (2014)

Team rankings: Illinois (20), Ohio State (27), Purdue (29), Northwestern (32), Indiana (44), Michigan (70), Rutgers (77), Michigan State (86), Minnesota (91), Nebraska (92), Wisconsin (110), Penn State (111), Iowa (135), Maryland (212)

Midseason All-Conference Team: Max Herendeen, Illinois (16); Herman Wibe Sekne, Purdue (27); Timmy Crawford, Illinois (52); Jackson Buchanan, Illinois (54); Ethan Tseng, Northwestern (65)

What to watch: While other teams continue to close the gap between them and Illinois, the Fighting Illini have not let up on their stranglehold of the Big Ten crown – even after losing All-Americans Adrien Dumont de Chassart and Tommy Kuhl. Now winners of eight straight, Mike Small’s team is poised to add a ninth this spring. The Illini were 10th at Olympia Fields, so they are still behind the elite crop of teams in the country, but they won against a strong field at Sahalee and posted two other top-3s. … Ohio State has the veterans to give Illinois a run, though it’s a matter of what squad shows up. Seniors Maxwell Moldovan and Neal Shipley combined for four top-11s in the fall, but the entire Buckeyes lineup fell flat in a sixth-place showing at Cal Poly. That was a sour way to end the fall. … next great Norwegian could be Sekne, who led Purdue, which has no other top-350 players, to two wins in the fall while winning once and posting two other top-5s individually. … Northwestern climbed eight spots on the final day at Cal Poly to finish T-2 with UCLA, so its ranking could’ve been much worse. Tseng won at Notre Dame and was T-18 or better in four or five starts; he just needs more help if the Wildcats are going to make it back to nationals for the first time since 2018. … Indiana was busy in the fall, playing six times with three top-3s but also three finishes of eighth or worse. After the Hoosiers, there’s a significant drop-off in the Big Ten.

Pick to win: Ohio State

2023 World Amateur Team Championships - Espirito Santo Trophy

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 25: Monet Chun of Canada is checking the eight green during the 2023 World Amateur Team Championships – Espirito Santo Trophy at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on October 25, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Martin Dokoupil/Getty Images)

WOMEN

Championship info: April 19-21, Bulle Rock Golf Course, Havre de Grace, Maryland

Recent champions: Michigan (2022), Michigan State (2021), Ohio State (2019), Michigan State (2018), Michigan State (2017), Northwestern/Ohio State (2016), Northwestern/Ohio State (2015), Michigan State/Ohio State (2014)

Team rankings: Northwestern (14), Purdue (22), Michigan State (29), Michigan (34), Maryland (40), Ohio State (44), Minnesota (50), Nebraska (61), Indiana (68), Illinois (71), Wisconsin (75), Iowa (92), Penn State (108), Rutgers (113)

Midseason All-Conference team: Lauren Nguyen, Northwestern (20); Monet Chun, Michigan (30); Isabel Sy, Illinois (41); Katie Lu, Michigan State (47); Isabella McCauley, Minnesota (69)

What to watch: After a slow start to the fall in which Northwestern placed 12th at New Mexico’s event, the Wildcats went second-third-second the rest of the semester. A big reason for the turnaround was junior Lauren Nguyen, who won Windy City and added top-10s at Medinah and Stanford. … Purdue’s fall start was the complete opposite of Northwestern’s – two wins, which the Boilermakers followed with a third at the Schooner and disappointing 13th at Landfall. Fifth-year senior Kan Bunnabodee’s play mimicked her team’s results – back-to-back top-4s out of the gates but a T-44 to close the fall. … The emotions of last season are no longer fresh for Michigan State, which was consistent in the fall following an 11th-place showing at the Cougar – second, third, fourth, sixth. Hopefully, there’s no trend there, and the Spartans can repeat what they did last spring, when they won a regional to qualify for nationals for the second time in three years. They won’t be having to replace anyone midseason this time like they did a year ago when Valery Plata turned pro. … Maryland got a huge rankings boost from its T-3 at the Mercedes-Benz, though the rest of the fall showed the Terps need more behind fifth-year senior Patrice Mackova (three top-15s) and sophomore Nicha Kanpai (two top-10s). … Ohio State was eighth or worse in two of its three fall events. The talent is there, the Buckeyes just haven’t tapped into all of it, especially fifth-year senior Caley McGinty, who has a couple top-10s but is ranked outside the top 100.

Pick to win: Michigan State

Alfred Dunhill Championship - Day Four

MALELANE, SOUTH AFRICA – DECEMBER 10: Christiaan Maas of South Africa looks on while walking on the 1st green on Day Four of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club on December 10, 2023 in Malelane, South Africa. (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Big 12

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Championship info: April 22-24, Whispering Pines Golf Club, Trinity, Texas

Recent champions: Oklahoma (2023), Oklahoma (2022), Oklahoma State (2021), Oklahoma State (2019), Oklahoma (2018), Texas (2017), Texas (2016), Texas (2015), Texas (2014)

Team rankings: Texas (13), Oklahoma (15), Texas Tech (21), Baylor (24), Oklahoma State (41), TCU (49), BYU (52), Cincinnati (56), Iowa State (69), Houston (72), Kansas State (75), Kansas (87), West Virginia (94), UCF (157)

Midseason All-Conference Team: Christiaan Maas, Texas (11); Jacob Sosa, Texas (20); Gustav Frimodt, TCU (23); Johnny Keefer, Baylor (33); Luke Kluver, Oklahoma (37)

What to watch: The additions of four new teams add to the Big 12’s depth, but it did little change the list of likely contenders once we get to April. The rankings say Texas was the conference’s best team in the fall, and the Longhorns certainly are young and talented behind the sophomore Mass. But Texas also played six counting matches in the rankings and were sixth of worse in 54-hole stroke-play events. … The eye test probably favors Oklahoma, which benefitted from the resurgence of Kluver, who went undefeated at the Big 12 Match Play and then won the Ka’anapali Classic to lead the Sooners to the team title. There are several players vying for playing time, so it’s likely that head coach Ryan Hybl will be ironing out his postseason starting five well into the spring. Oklahoma, in its last season in the conference, is trying to join Oklahoma State and Texas as the only programs to three-peat at Big 12s. … A 13th-place finish at the Hogan showed that the Red Raiders have a lot of work to do to replace the loss of Ludvig Åberg. Walker Cupper Calum Scott is No. 43 in the rankings, but only he and Tyran Snyders are ranked in the top 200. Yet, a top-25 national ranking indicates maybe the Red Raiders aren’t as far away as we think. If Jack Wall can rebound and Baard Skogen can get healthier, noise can be made in May. … Baylor bounced back last year after missing regionals in 2022 by advancing to the NCAA Championship. Even though the Bears finished last among 30 teams at Grayhawk, it was still a sign that a turnaround was taking place. Now, head coach Mike McGraw has his team coming off a fall in which Baylor cracked the top 25 in the rankings and posted two top-3s and a runner-up at the Big 12 Match Play, where it went 4-1. … This winter’s rankings corrections saw Oklahoma State shoot up about 15 spots. However, the Cowboys are 12-31-1, star player Jonas Baumgartner is ranked outside the top 150 and Bo Jin continues to be a non-factor. The positive, however, is this team is very young; watch out for Preston Stout this spring in particular. … TCU, at 22-27, is also paying attention to the .500 rule in Bill Alcorn’s first season as head coach. Frimodt is a star, but the loss of Jacob Skov Olesen to Arkansas hurts. A runner-up at Valero to kick off the fall was promising, but the Horned Frogs need to generate something outside of Frimodt to be contenders in the Big 12. … BYU and Cincinnati, led by standouts Zac Jones and Connor McNeely, respectively, are likely regional teams.

Pick to win: Oklahoma

Molly Smith Qualifies For Massachusetts Amateur Championship

Tyngsborough, MA – July 1: Molly Smith is the first woman to qualify for the Massachusetts Amateur. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Boston Globe via Getty Images

WOMEN

Championship info: April 18-20, Houston Oaks, Hockley, Texas

Recent champions: Oklahoma State (2023), Texas (2022), Oklahoma State (2021), Texas (2019), Texas (2018), Texas (2017), Oklahoma State (2016), Baylor (2015), Oklahoma (2014)

Team rankings: Texas (8), UCF (13), Houston (27), Oklahoma State (38), Kansas (46), Iowa State (51), Texas Tech (52), Oklahoma (56), Kansas State (58), Baylor (62), TCU (79), BYU (91), Cincinnati (155)

Midseason All-Conference Team: Molly Smith, UCF (14); Lauren Kim, Texas (21); Farah O’Keefe, Texas (23); Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, Oklahoma State (28); Bohyun Park, Texas (48)

What to watch: The addition of four teams has added a couple of contenders in the Big 12 in UCF and Houston. The Knights enjoyed one of their best seasons in program history last year yet fell short of a third NCAA Championship appearance – and first since 2019. Smith and Oregon transfer Brittany Shin have bolstered UCF’s depth, with the freshman Smith (one win, three other top-13s) putting together a stellar first semester. Sandwich Sisutham could have four top-10s if not for a final-round DQ at the Mercedes-Benz, where UCF still managed to win for one of two fall team triumphs. The Cougars haven’t gone anywhere now a couple years removed from head coach Gerrod Chadwell’s departure for Texas A&M. Houston won its fall opener, the Sam Golden, and its star sophomore Moa Svedenskiold had three top-10s in the fall. … Texas, though, remains the conference favorite. The Longhorns have made match play at national in three of the past four championships, including last year when Texas finished second in stroke play. Much of that squad returned this season, though it’s been two freshmen who have led the way so far – Kim (Stephens Cup winner) and O’Keefe (two top-5s). As a team, Texas was probably one poor final round at Stanford away from being ranked in the top five. … Oklahoma State surprised many by upsetting Texas and Baylor at last year’s Big 12 Championship, and as long as Hinson-Tolchard (two top-10s in fall) is still around, there’s a chance for a repeat. It’s just no finishes better than fifth in the fall is concerning. … Now in her third season, Kansas head coach Lindsay Kuhle is continuing to build a Big 12 contender. After a T-8 regional finish last year, the Jayhawks were runner-up to Pepperdine at New Mexico’s event to open the fall. Throw out a 13th at the Mercedes-Benz is this team could make a run at nationals this spring. … Iowa State got four T-14s from its star player, Karisa Chul-Ak-Sorn, but it still couldn’t finish better than ninth in four fall tournaments. Even with most of last year’s roster back, there are some serious depth concerns. … While Iowa State’s fall performance was surprising, nothing could’ve predicted this from Baylor – 12th, 14th and 12th before finally winning the Rainbow Wahine in Hawaii, with the latter being the weakest field the Beard saw in the fall by far.

Pick to win: UCF

The Walker Cup - Day Two

ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND – SEPTEMBER 3: Preston Summerhays of the United States celebrates during the Sunday Singles on Day Two of the Walker Cup at St Andrews Old Course on September 3, 2023 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by Oisin Keniry/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Pac-12

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Championship info: April 26-28, Desert Forest Golf Club, Carefree, Arizona

Recent champions: Stanford (2023), Washington (2022), Arizona (2021), Stanford (2019), USC (2018), Oregon (2017), Stanford (2016), Stanford (2015), Stanford (2014)

Team rankings: Washington (4), Arizona State (6), Arizona (16), Oregon (17), Cal (18), UCLA (31), Oregon State (46), Stanford (59), Washington State (63), USC (80), Colorado (102), Utah (104)

Midseason All-Conference Team: Luke Powell, UCLA (8); Preston Summerhays, Arizona State (9); Petr Hruby, Washington (18); Taehoon Song, Washington (19); Tiger Christensen (26)

What to watch: Washington used a dominating performance at the Husky Invitational, where it won by 26 shots over Oklahoma, to solidify a top-4 ranking after the fall. Fourth or better in its other three starts helped, too, so don’t overlook head coach Alan Murray’s bunch, which has all five starters ranked No. 114 or better. … One of the more shocking stats in college golf is for as much as Arizona State has been a national factor in recent decades, the Sun Devils haven’t won a Pac-12 title since 2008 under Randy Lein. That drought has to end sometime, so why not this year? Arizona State didn’t win in the fall, but it did finish fourth or better in its four stroke-play events, all with great fields. Summerhays won Sahalee to kick off a strong fall while Luke Potter, Josele Ballester and Ryggs Johnston were all top-75 individuals. This team gets even better this spring with the arrival of No. 13-ranked amateur Wenyi Ding, who just won the team’s first qualifier of the semester. … If you ask Oregon head coach Casey Martin, he’d likely say his Ducks underperformed. Oregon was no better than fourth in four fall starts, yet the good news is it was no worse than sixth. Once Owen Avrit shakes off a poor fall (No. 200 in rankings with no top-10s), we should see the Ducks start contending for wins. … We saw this coming with Cal, which added one of the top recruiting classes in the country in the fall, including AJGA player of the year Eric Lee. The Bears won twice in the fall while Lee won once among three top-15s. Junior Tony Chen also won, at Cal Poly, and Sampson Zheng is still around, too. The only concern is the strength of schedule, though trips to Cabo and Pasatiempo will give Cal an elite stage to prove just how good it is. … UCLA might be back, folks. The Bruins haven’t qualified for regionals since 2019, but this year will surely change that. Freshman Luke Powell beat Nick Dunlap to win the Hamptons Intercollegiate and Omar Morales shared medalist honors at Golf Club of Georgia. That’s a strong one-two punch, though head coach Armen Kirakossian would still love a lot more consistency at the back end of his lineup. … With much of the Pac-12 departing soon, that leaves Oregon State as probably the top golf program staying put. The Beavers won their home event but were most impressive in finishing third at the Husky. That said, without an All-American type player, Oregon State’s postseason potential is limited. … Stanford was 5-26-1, so it is well behind the eight-ball as it starts the spring. Though with a massive field at The Goodwin, the Cardinal should have no trouble making up ground in that aspect. Plus, this team will be loads better in the spring with the return of PGA Tour U No. 1 Michael Thorbjornsen from a back injury. There’s also hope that Barclay Brown can turns things around from his fall slump and Jake Beber-Frankel could be a wild-card after getting back into the fold following a lengthy absence due to a neurological issue. Stanford is arguably the clubhouse leader to have the biggest progression from fall to spring.

Pick to win: Arizona State

NCAA Women’s Golf Division One Championships

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA – MAY 22: Megha Ganne of the Stanford Cardinal plays a tee shot on the first hole during the NCAA women’s Golf Championships at Grayhawk Golf Club on May 22, 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

WOMEN

Championship info: April 21-23, Palouse Ridge Golf Club, Pullman, Washington

Recent champions: USC (2023), Oregon (2022), USC (2021), USC (2019), UCLA (2018), UCLA (2017), USC (2016), Arizona (2015), Stanford (2014)

Team rankings: Stanford (2), UCLA (4), USC (5), Oregon (7), Cal (18), Arizona State (24), Arizona (26), Oregon State (42), Washington (49), Colorado (66), Washington State (98)

Midseason All-Conference Team: Megha Ganne, Stanford (3); Paula Martin Sampedro, Stanford (8); Catherine Park, USC (11); Kelly Xu, Stanford (17); Amari Avery, USC (27)

What to watch: Rose who? Of course, we kid, but Stanford really hasn’t skipped much of a beat since Zhang turned pro at the end of last season. Ganne won the fall-opening Carmel Cup to lead the Cardinal to the team win. And though Rachel Heck (No. 258 in rankings) continues to search for her freshman-year form, others have stepped up – Sampedro didn’t finish worse than seventh and went 3-0 in match play in the fall while Xu had four top-15s, including a third at Stanford’s home event. This isn’t the type of team that is going to go undefeated in the spring, but they’ll win plenty (twice in the fall) and be in the mix at La Costa. … UCLA is right back in the national conversation under first-year head coach Alicia Um Holmes. The Bruins won an elite Windy City event and has all five starters ranked No. 108 or better. … Speaking of the Windy City, that was USC’s worst showing (ninth), but other than that the Trojans have looked like the team that finished runner-up to Wake last May at Grayhawk. They swept the titles at Stanford (Park won individually) and they’ve done it all without much contribution from the No. 5 spot. … Oregon opened its fall second-first-third before placing 11th of 19 teams at Stanford. That event was significant because the Ducks were without two players because of LPGA Q-School, Briana Chacon and Minori Nagano. Chacon has decided to turn professional, leaving a big hole in Oregon’s lineup. They’ll be fine – freshman Kiara Romero, one of four medalists at the Annika, is a stud – but there might not be the top-to-bottom firepower to win a natty. … The feel-good story of the fall was Cal, which won twice and was T-3 with Stanford at the Cardinal’s home event as Bears longtime head coach Nancy McDaniel continues to battle cancer. … Other than senior Ashley Menne (No. 51), Arizona State hasn’t gotten any consistency from the rest of its young squad. … It’s a similar story for the other Arizona team, the Wildcats, who have fifth-year senior Gile Bite Starkute (No. 39) as their only top-100 player.

Pick to win: Stanford

2023 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship

SCOTTSDALE, AZ – MAY 26: Gordon Sargent of the Vanderbilt Commodores hits his approach shot during the Division I Men’s Golf Championship held at Grayhawk Golf Club on May 26, 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

NCAA Photos via Getty Images

SEC

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Championship info: April 24-28, Sea Island Golf Club (Seaside), St. Simons Island, Georgia

Recent champions: Florida (2023), Vanderbilt (2022), Vanderbilt (2021), Arkansas (2019), Auburn (2018), Vanderbilt (2017), Georgia (2016), LSU (2015), Alabama (2014)

Team rankings: Auburn (2), Vanderbilt (3), Ole Miss (5), Tennessee (7), Arkansas (8), Alabama (14), Mississippi State (19), Texas A&M (25), Florida (26), LSU (30), Missouri (35), Georgia (43), South Carolina (55), Kentucky (60)

Midseason All-Conference team: Nick Dunlap, Alabama (1); Gordon Sargent, Vanderbilt (5); Michael La Sasso, Ole Miss (6); Alex Goff, Kentucky (10); Jackson Koivun, Auburn (13)

What to watch: Since falling to Arkansas in the 2019 SEC final, Auburn hasn’t made the eight-team match play portion at SECs in three straight tries. However, the Tigers, at last in the past two seasons, have bounced back for top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championship. This year’s squad is likely capable of better. The triumvirate of J.M. Butler, Brendan Valdes and true freshman Jackson Koivun, maybe the most talented newcomer in the country, combined for 10 top-10s in the fall while Auburn won three times and flexed its depth by finishing first and second in two overlapping tournaments to cap the fall. … Auburn beat Vanderbilt twice at the SEC Fall Preview, including a 3-2 match-play win, but the Commodores are probably still the favorites to win a third SEC title in four years. Other than its losses to Auburn, Vandy had a perfect fall, including knocking off North Carolina at St. Andrews. Junior Gordon Sargent was his usual self with a pair of top-5s in three fall starts. Fellow junior Jackson Van Paris notched his first college win, on the Old Course. But the biggest occurrence last semester was senior Cole Sherwood rebounding from a down season by winning the Hogan individual title among his two top-5s in four starts. … Adding N.C. State transfer Michael La Sasso has Ole Miss back among the top teams in the conference. La Sasso had two top-3s in the fall with a worst finish of T-11. Stud sophomore Cameron Tankersley also had a sub-70 scoring average in the fall. … Tennessee has shockingly been shut out of the NCAA Championship in each of the past two seasons, and it might not get any easier for the Vols. … One could argue that Arkansas head coach Brad McMakin is the current frontrunner for coach of the year in the SEC. The Razorbacks lost a ton of talent and experience from last year’s squad, most notably Latin America Amateur champ Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira, but won once and had two other top-3s as a team in the fall. Transfers Jacob Skov Olesen (TCU) and John Driscoll (Northwestern) have combined to count in 20 of 21 rounds while John Daly II has four top-20s in as many starts. If Arkansas can shore up the back end of its lineup, it can win its first SEC title since 2019. … Alabama got off to a slow start in the fall, finishing fifth at Olympia Fields and then eighth at the SEC Fall Preview, but it finished strong, winning back-to-back events, including the Steelwood Collegiate without U.S. Amateur champion Nick Dunlap. Speaking of Dunlap’s absence, the Tide will need to get used to that as the 20-year-old became the PGA Tour’s first amateur winner since 1991 by winning The American Express and decided to turn professional. Dunlap had a win, nothing worse than T-8 and lipped out a putt for the first 59 in college golf history, but now Alabama head coach Jay Seawell will begin the basically impossible task of trying to replace him. … Led by Hunter Logan’s win in Knoxville and two other top-10s, Mississippi State was a top-20 team in the fall despite no wins and a pair of ninth-place finishes. … Life after Sam Bennett hasn’t been easy so far for a young Texas A&M squad, which was sixth or worse in its toughest three fall events. However, watch out for freshman Aaron Pounds this spring after he struggled in the fall coming off a hand injury. … Defending NCAA champion Florida had a rough fall after losing three All-Americans to the pros. The Gators won Georgetown’s event, but in its tougher tournaments, Florida fell flat – ninth at Olympia Fields, seventh at SEC Fall Preview. Fifth-year senior John DuBois has been a non-factor (75.1 stroke average), though Luke Poulter (three top-25s) broke out in the fall and along with recent Patriot All-America champ Ian Gilligan gives the Gators hope that the spring could be a different story. … LSU is a major unknown following a fall in which the Tigers’ longtime head coach, Chuck Winstead, resigned.

Pick to win: Vanderbilt

2023 World Amateur Team Championships - Espirito Santo Trophy

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 25: Ingrid Lindblad of Sweden tees off at the ninth hole during the 2023 World Amateur Team Championships – Espirito Santo Trophy at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on October 25, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Martin Dokoupil/Getty Images)

WOMEN

Championship info: April 12-16, Pelican Golf Club, Belleair, Florida

Recent champions: Texas A&M (2023), LSU (2022), Auburn (2021), Ole Miss (2019), Arkansas (2018), Florida (2017), Alabama (2016), Texas A&M (2015), Vanderbilt (2014)

Team rankings: Arkansas (3), South Carolina (6), Ole Miss (9), Florida (10), LSU (11), Texas A&M (12), Auburn (17), Vanderbilt (21), Mississippi State (25), Georgia (30), Alabama (32), Kentucky (35), Tennessee (43), Missouri (83)

Midseason All-Conference Team: Maria Jose Marin, Arkansas (1); Julia Lopez Ramirez, Mississippi State (2); Maisie Filler, Florida (4); Ingrid Lindblad, LSU (5); Adela Cernousek, Texas A&M (7)

What to watch: Just like its freshman Marin, Arkansas opened its fall second-first, but the win came at home and the Razorbacks beat just one team at the Stephens Cup. Don’t get us wrong, this is an SEC title contender, but perhaps a No. 3 national ranking is a little too high. … South Carolina came out hot as well, winning the Annika by three shots. The Gamecocks then cooled off, but not much, with a trio of top-4s. With two freshmen in the starting lineup on a not-deep team, there will be growing pains still this spring, but a first SEC title since 2002 is very much in the cards. … Ole Miss added impact transfer Caitlyn Macnab from TCU this summer and she immediately has gotten to work with a win and three other top-7s. Even with Andrea Lignell currently ranked just outside the top 100, Ole Miss picked up a win and two other seconds as a team. If Lignell bounces back this spring, watch out. … Florida’s schedule wasn’t as stout as other SEC teams, but three wins is three wins, and senior Maisie Filler broke out with two wins and a runner-up of her own in the fall. The Gators haven’t qualified for the NCAA Championship since 2019. … LSU was good but not great in the fall – one win, two finishes of fifth or worse. Senior Ingrid Lindblad was her usual self with two wins, but the Tigers are arguably a three-player team right now, and that has to change. … By Texas A&M’s standards, it was an average fall with finishes between third and fifth in four tournaments. Cernousek won the Stephens Cup, but everyone else has some room for improvement, including freshman Cata Fernandez Garcia-Poggio, who didn’t have a top-10 in her debut semester. … Auburn has some good (two seconds) and some bad (two finishes of 10th or worse) in the fall. Sophomore Casey Weidenfeld had two runners-up individually and U.S. Women’s Amateur champ Meghan Schofill is No. 40 in the rankings, but the Tigers could use some more firepower. Luckily, that’s just what early enrollee Anna Davis brings. The Augusta National Women’s Amateur winner should be a first-team All-SEC caliber player right away, maybe better. … Vanderbilt’s fall was highlighted by a win at its home event, the Mason Rudolph, and sophomore Tillie Claggett has three top-10s. With No. 1 player Celina Sattelkau, who missed the last two events, back in the lineup and more contribution from sophomore Lynn Lim, the Commodores could be a dark horse in the SEC. … After being a No. 1 regional seed last season, Mississippi State hasn’t quite matched that level so far this season. The Bulldogs beat a combined five teams between the Carmel Cup and Annika, and they were unable to win their home event, finishing second by 11 shots to Florida at The Ally. Most of this is due to the Bulldogs losing a lot of experience, but the positive is Julia Lopez Ramirez remains one of the best players in the country. Expect a much better spring as this team settles in. … Georgia tends to be a postseason team, but this fall was still not good – nothing better than sixth in four tournaments, including a last-place finish at Stanford. The midseason addition of Belgian Savannah de Bock, ranked No. 50 in WAGR, should help.

Pick to win: Auburn

Mid-majors

MEN

Top teams: East Tennessee State (9), Chattanooga (22), New Mexico (28), North Florida (33), San Diego State (34), SMU (36), South Florida (37), Loyola Marymount (38), UNC-Greensboro (40), Charlotte (47), San Jose State (48), Florida Gulf Coast (50)

Top individuals: Mats Ege, East Tennessee State (7); Nick Gabrelcik, North Florida (17); Algot Kleen, East Tennessee State (29); Walker Isley, UNC-Greensboro (34); Riley Lewis, Loyola Marymount (45); Sam Nicholson, South Florida (47); Caleb van Arragon, Valparaiso (48)

What to watch: East Tennessee State isn’t just looking to make a fourth straight NCAA Championship this spring; the Bucs are eyeing the program’s first NCAA match-play berth. Kleen shared medalist honors at Golf Club of Georgia, but it was Ege who had the best fall, turning in a Haskins-worthy fall that saw him post five top-6s in as many starts, including a win of his own at the Bank of Tennessee. Ege was T-6 at the South Beach Amateur over the break, too. … Chattanooga’s inspired play has continued this year, and there’s no question this Mocs team is better behind the trio of John Houk, Paul Conroy and Samuel Espinosa-Trueba. If Garrett Engle gets some form back, Chattanooga could be the last mid-major standing. … Former head coach Glen Millican didn’t leave the cupboard bare as New Mexico won its home event and was runner-up at Cal. … Three fourth and two fifths marked a consistent fall for North Florida, which continues to enjoy having Gabrelcik, now a senior, atop its lineup. … It was a mixed bag for San Diego State in the fall, though thirds at the Maui Jim and Tucker were promising. With nationals in San Diego, the Aztecs are itching badly to get there.

WOMEN

Top teams: San Jose State (19), Pepperdine (20), South Florida (33), North Texas (36), SMU (39), Tulsa (41), Colorado State (45)

Top individuals: Anna Morgan, Furman (13); Melanie Green, South Florida (24); Kajsa Arwefjall, San Jose State (35); Camryn Carreon, UTSA (42); Lucia Lopez Ortega, San Jose State (49); Ellie Szeryk, SMU (59); Lauren Lehigh, New Mexico (64)

What to watch: In each of the past two seasons, a mid-major has qualified for NCAA match play – San Jose State in 2022 and Pepperdine last year. The Spartans were fourth at the Annika to open the fall, and though they were 16th at Stanford, that was without Arwefjall. The Waves won twice and were third at the Mercedes-Benz. … South Florida made regionals last season for the first time since 2012. After a fall campaign that featured a win and three other top-4s, the Bulls are eyeing their first nationals berth since 2002.

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