The dream is still alive for 24 Division I womens programs, with only one team realizing the goal of being the best in college golf for the 2002-2003 season. Starting Tuesday at Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., the quest will begin.
There are a handful of teams which have a legitimate chance to take home top honors:
DUKE: The Lady Blue Devils are the defending national champions, and my favorite to win again this year. They have the best starting five in womens golf and know how to win golf tournaments. More importantly this group is not afraid to win, and that is invaluable when in the heat of battle. Expect Coach Dan Brooks and his team to be right there come the final round.
CALIFORNIA: Perhaps this unheralded bunch is ripe for a surprise of sorts. But it is hard for the Golden Bears to fly under the radar anymore. Seven team wins this season ensure that, including victories at the Pac-10s and Central Region. Coach Nancy McDaniel is excited for the prospects of playing another Pete Dye course at Purdue University. Cal has had success on those layouts, most recently in Nebraska just a week ago.
PEPPERDINE: When Carolina Llano joined this team back in January, coach Laurie Gibbs told me this was a player who would help her win the national title. A strong statement, but Llano has backed it up with stellar play throughout the spring. Add to the mix Katherine Hull and Lindsey Wright, and this bunch might make some waves when it matters most. The only concern I see here is perhaps a lack of consistency from the Nos. 4 and 5 players.
There are others who can and most likely will contend next week. A few to keep an eye on are Oklahoma State, Southern California, Auburn, Texas, Arizona and Georgia. This group of six are talented and it would not surprise me to see them right in the middle of things.
But when all is said and done, I truly believe the winner will come from the three teams which have established themselves a notch above the rest. The great thing about next week at Nationals, 21 other teams will do everything in their power to prove me wrong, and fulfill their dreams. Come Tuesday morning, they all start from square one, and the chase will be under way. The time is now to show the world just how good they are.
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