As we prepare to get another season of college golf rolling, Golf Channel's Brentley Romine reveals his top 30 women's preseason rankings, both team and individual, and tells you everything you need to know about the best programs in the country, from projected starting lineups to preseason All-Americans (scroll to the bottom) to what's motivating each team heading into the fall.
But first, take note of these important dates:
• May 8-10, 2023: NCAA regionals
(Host sites: Athens, Georgia; Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Pullman, Washington; Raleigh, North Carolina; San Antonio; Westfield, Indiana)
• May 19-24, 2023: NCAA Championship
Grayhawk GC, Scottsdale, Arizona
And as for the men's top 30 teams and players, those will be unveiled on Sunday morning.
Now, without further ado, let's get into the big rankings reveal:
Final 2021-22 rank: 1
2022 NCAA Championship finish: Champion (won stroke play)
Top returners: Rose Zhang (Soph.), Rachel Heck (Jr.), Brooke Seay (Sr.), Sadie Englemann (Jr.), Caroline Sturdza (Soph.), Angelina Ye (Sr.)
Key departures: Aline Krauter
Arriving: Megha Ganne, Kelly Xu
Projected starting lineup: Zhang, Heck, Seay, Ganne, Englemann
Scouting report: Star-studded Stanford didn’t deliver the perfect season, but with the Cardinal sweeping both NCAA team and individual titles last May at Grayhawk, it’s hard to argue with the end result. Especially considering the adverse journey (injuries, illnesses and much more behind the scenes) that the Cardinal navigated. But those challenges bolstered that Stanford team and drew its players closer together. Head coach Anne Walker is hoping for a similar response should adversity strike again this season; we know the talent will still be there. While Walker isn’t big on predictions, us outsiders could argue that, at least on paper (eight players ranked inside the top 200 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking), this year’s Stanford squad is better. Aline Krauter has graduated, but in steps much ballyhooed freshman Megha Ganne, the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open low amateur who might not even be among the top three players in the lineup. Sophomore Rose Zhang, the world’s top-ranked amateur by a mile, has only gotten better, which is scary for other teams considering she won the NCAA individual title, Annika Award and finished either first or second in eight of her 10 starts (and never worse than T-10) as a freshman. Junior Rachel Heck faced her fair share of obstacles as a sophomore, only winning twice and having an illness derail her postseason, but she’s still a world-class player who likely is poised for a big bounce-back campaign. And senior Brooke Seay (five top-10s last season) is arguably the most underrated player in women’s college golf. The battle for the last lineup spot should be good, too, as junior Sadie Englemann and freshman Kelly Xu had strong summers while sophomore Caroline Sturdza, who is finally over a back injury, and senior Angelina Ye are also in the mix. As we saw last season, going undefeated is likely an impossible task this day and age, but expect more than six team wins from Stanford as it gears up for a national-championship defense next May at Grayhawk.
Coach’s take: “We’re in the people business, we’re not in the golf business, and stuff happens, and when you’re carrying a team of 10 and they’re all high performers, high achievers, but they all have a ton of demands whether it be external, family, their own personal demands on themselves, school, it’s just a lot of stuff. So, over the course from now until late May, just a ton of stuff happens, so I’ve tried as a coach to focus not necessarily on how good we are for the year because it becomes somewhat irrelevant, but how good are we when it counts, and do I think we can be good when it counts? I’m hopeful for that, yes. … I don’t know what this year will throw at us, but I do believe the adversity that we faced in both 2015 and 2022 made us stronger at the end. So, I’m not hoping for adversity, but I’m not fearful of it, and whatever this year gives us, we’ll go forward and just see if we can be ready when it matters.” – Anne Walker
2. Wake Forest
Final 2021-22 rank: 5
2022 NCAA Championship finish: 16th
Top returners: Rachel Kuehn (Sr.), Carolina Lopez-Chacarra (Soph.), Lauren Walsh (Sr.), Mimi Rhodes (Jr.)
Key departures: Ou Olankitkunchai, Vanessa Knecht
Arriving: Emilia Migliaccio (Sr.), Anne-Sterre den Dunnen (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Kuehn, Chacarra, Migliaccio, den Dunnen, Walsh
Scouting report: If there’s a team that can keep Stanford from running away with a second straight NCAA Championship, it’s Wake Forest. With the return of Emilia Migliaccio, who will use her extra year of eligibility after taking a year off, the Demon Deacons boast three top-21 players in the WAGR – senior Rachel Kuehn (13), Migliaccio (16) and sophomore Carolina Chacarra (21). Migliaccio hasn’t lost a step as proven by her summer win at the North and South Women’s Amateur, and she’ll rejoin an All-American pair in Kuehn and Chacarra that totaled four wins and nine top-5s a season ago (Chacarra did some of that while battling a wrist injury late in the spring). There’s a lot of excitement about Anne-Sterre den Dunnen, a 6-foot-1 freshman from the Netherlands who was third at the World Amateur Team Championship before a final-round 79 knocked her to T-21. There are arguably two X-factors in senior Lauren Walsh and sophomore Mimi Rhodes, who each posted just two top-10s last season. If those two figure things out, there is no way Wake misses the 54-hole cut at the NCAA Championship for a third straight year. In fact, it’s more likely they are right on Stanford’s heels come May.
Coach’s take: “What we’ve learned is that we do have very good players who play a lot of golf and play a lot of golf outside the tournaments for Wake Forest. Last spring, we stacked the schedule, so we had more events, and then they were also playing the Augusta event, Rachel got into the tour event at Palos Verdes, there was Open qualifying as well, and then regionals and exams. So, what we’ve figured out, which is a wonderful problem to have, but with the caliber of players we have and the outside goals they have, we need to balance that better so that they are rested and peaking at NCAAs. … We’ve changed our schedule this spring, lessened it, we’re finishing up a little bit sooner in mid-March so they’ll have a little more time to fit Augusta in, and then rest and rehab and work on their games going into conference. We have great players who can play any golf course, so I don’t think it’s that we’re not ready for the golf course (Grayhawk), I just think we’ve been tired the last two times.” – Kim Lewellen
3. South Carolina
Final 2021-22 rank: 4
2022 NCAA Championship finish: 14th
Top returners: Hannah Darling (Soph.), Louise Rydqvist (Soph.), Justine Fournand (Sr.), Mathilde Claisse (Sr.)
Key departures: Tai Anudit, Paula Kirner (transferred to Tennessee)
Arriving: Katherine Muzi (Sr., transferred from USC), Mia Sandtorv Lussand (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Darling, Rydqvist, Fournand, Muzi, Claisse
Scouting report: After spending much of the 2020-21 season at No. 1 in the Golfstat rankings, South Carolina head coach Kalen Anderson rebuilt nearly her entire team with newcomers, including a freshman in Hannah Darling and three transfers. It worked for most of the year, as the Gamecocks were a top-5 team in the rankings, but when it mattered most, South Carolina sputtered, finishing 14th at Grayhawk. This season, the Gamecocks added more firepower – sweet-swinging USC transfer Katherine Muzi and freshman Mia Sandtorv Lussand, rank just outside the top 100 and top 200, respectively, in WAGR – without losing much. There will be a lot of competition among the six players on the roster, as seniors Justine Fournand and Mathilde Claisse have a lot of experience with Fournand also posting a T-6 at the European Ladies this summer. But what makes South Carolina so good is its top two players, Darling and senior Louise Rydqvist, two All-American talents who both reached the semifinals of the British Women’s Amateur this summer (Rydqvist lost in the final to UCF’s Jess Baker and later in the summer helped Sweden to the WATC title). Darling is a surefire player-of-the-year candidate who is coming off a freshman season where she turned in five top-5s. Anderson believes that Darling is ready to take off, and if she does, the rest of the team could follow.
Coach’s take: “I think they know we’ve underperformed at nationals the last couple of years. We’ve had some extenuating circumstances with some illnesses and things like that, but you know, this group understands that it’s a process and some things have to fall your way, but I definitely think they have a little chip on their shoulders after last year. We were pretty young last year in our own right, and I think they’ve grown a lot and they’re going to be more prepared. They each know what they need to do to be ready, I know what they need to do, and they have the desire to take care of it.” – Kalen Anderson
Final 2021-22 rank: 16
2022 NCAA Championship finish: 10th
Top returners: Amari Avery (Soph.), Brianna Navarrosa (Jr.), Cindy Kou (Soph.), Michaela Morard (Soph.), Malia Nam (Sr.), Christine Wang (Jr.), Joyce Jin (Fr.)
Key departures: Katherine Muzi (transferred to South Carolina)
Arriving: Catherine Park (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Avery, Navarrosa, Kou, Park, Morard
Scouting report: One could argue that no one player is as valuable to a team as sophomore Amari Avery is to USC. Avery arrived last January and immediately went to work, winning three times (including a regional) and earning first-team All-America honors. However, the Trojans were too inconsistent behind her, and when Avery struggled at nationals (T-57), USC did well to post a 10th-place finish. Don’t expect that kind of finish again from Avery in a Trojan uniform, as she is determined to not only win the Annika Award but also climb to No. 2 in the world amateur rankings (Rose Zhang’s stranglehold on No. 1 will last likely until she turns pro). She should also have more help this season. Junior Brianna Navarrosa grew into a leader last spring and turned in some strong performances in the postseason, and this summer she reached the quarters of the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Sophomore Cindy Kou got off to a hot start with three top-10s in her first semester before cooling off mightily. If not for USC’s lack of depth, Kou may have missed a few starts, but she stayed in the pocket, took some hits and now is poised for a rebound. Freshman Catherine Park arrives with lots of power and a U.S. Women’s Open start under her belt this summer. She’ll be in the running for a lineup spot, as will junior Michaela Morard, who continues to gain confidence after transferring in two summers ago from Alabama, and senior Malia Nam, who missed all of last season after undergoing hip surgery. Nam was a second-team All-American as a freshman. And speaking of health, freshman Joyce Jin won’t be available in the fall as she recovers from ACL surgery. When she returns in the spring, though, there may not be a ton of opportunity right away if everything goes according to plan. This USC team is talented and hungry, and the Trojans are tired of not making match play the last two seasons.
Coach’s take: “If we have to come up with external motivation to get to the golf course every day and try harder, we’re probably in a bad spot. Just like in a lot of sports, the harder you try in this one, generally the worse you play. So, we don’t really spend a lot of time discussing that. But I think internally with them, if you ask them, it’s not making match play last year and being so close. That’s not up to our standards here to not make match play, which we haven’t made for two years, so that’s out there, they know, we know, we don’t have to talk about it.” – Justin Silverstein
Final 2021-22 rank: 11
2022 NCAA Championship finish: 11th
Top returners: Ingrid Lindblad (Sr.), Latanna Stone (Sr.), Carla Tejedo (Jr.), Elsa Svensson (Soph.), Jessica Bailey (Sr.), Alden Wallace (Sr.)
Key departures: None
Arriving: Aine Donegan (Soph., transferred from Indiana), Taylor Riley (Fr.), Edit Hertzman (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Lindblad, Stone, Tejedo, Donegan, Svensson
Scouting report: Likely lost in the Rose Zhang hype is the fact that women’s college golf has another generational talent down in Baton Rouge. In three seasons, senior Ingrid Lindblad has won nine times and in 30 starts has finished outside of the top 10 just six times. Her 70.5 career scoring average is eye-popping. And it’s possible that she stays in college beyond just this season. All that is great news for the Tigers, who possess a vaunted top 3, which also includes senior Latanna Stone, who last spring nearly won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, and junior Carla Tejedo, who recently topped a stout field at the World University Championship in Italy. Those two combined for seven top-10s a season ago. The rest of the lineup, as in past years, is a bit of an unknown, though head coach Garrett Runion is excited about transfer Aine Donegan, who was Indiana’s leading scorer last season. Two years ago, LSU fell a shot shy of the top 8 at Grayhawk. Last season, the Tigers overcame a sluggish fall to tie Stanford on their home course at regionals, and though LSU ended up 11th at nationals, they did so with three players being hit hard by illness, including Stone. If the Tigers can stay upright and maybe get a consistent fourth score, they are a NCAA match-play team.
Coach’s take: “When I took over, we were 70th in the country, and I told them we can’t win a national championship today, can’t win one tomorrow, and I gave every one of them a purple-and-gold domino, and I said, ‘If we just keep knocking over dominoes…” We felt like we knocked over a big domino in winning the SEC Championship and we still have another big domino to go.” – Garrett Runion
6. Florida State
Final 2021-22 rank: 7
2022 NCAA Championship finish: Quarterfinalist (sixth in stroke play)
Top returners: Amelia Williamson (Sr.), Charlotte Heath (Jr.), Alice Hodge (Jr.), Cecilie Finne-Ipsen (Sr.)
Key departures: Beatrice Wallin, Elle Johnson
Arriving: Lottie Woad (Fr.), Jacqueline Putrino (Fr.), Katherine Cook (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Williamson, Heath, Woad, Hodge, Putrino
Scouting report: Repeating their NCAA match-play appearance from last season won’t be easy for the Seminoles, who are now tasked with replacing two-time first-team All-American Beatrice Wallin. Wallin posted 20 top-10s, including three wins, in 35 career events for Florida State. The good news is that the Seminoles boast one of the best one-two punches in the country in seniors Amelia Williamson and Charlotte Heath, who are both inside the top 35 in WAGR. Williamson advanced through the first stage of LPGA Q-School, but per head coach Amy Bond, she isn’t planning on turning pro to compete in Q-Series should she qualify. The standout pair could become the terrific trio if freshman Lottie Woad is as good as advertised. Ranked No. 66 in WAGR, Woad won the British Girls and tied for fourth at the European Ladies (Heath was runner-up there) this summer. There will be some heavy competition in the back end of the order. Freshman Jacqueline Putrino has a chance to make a quick impression, though junior Alicia Hodge and senior Cecilie Finne-Ipsen both have postseason experience that will be valuable for a team that went from missing out on match play by a shot after Hodge’s 72nd-hole double bogey in 2021 to finishing sixth in stroke play last spring and nearly beating Texas A&M in the quarters despite Williamson being banged up. Some will probably overlook the Seminoles because of who they lost, but by April those same people will figure out that this FSU squad can play with anyone.
Coach’s take: “Hopefully, we’ll have three or four of our starting five that have played Grayhawk before, which I think is important. The fairways are narrow in spots, so you really have to know where the cut-ins are because the rough is so penal there, let alone the desert, so having an idea of where to hit it, I think is key. And confidence, you know, they’ve got a lot of confidence out there. For a group that doesn’t play hardly any desert golf until we get there, they’ve done a great job of adjusting. If we can stay in the moment and keep getting better through the spring, if your confidence level is high when you get to nationals, you’re probably going to play pretty well.” – Amy Bond
Final 2021-22 rank: 2
2022 NCAA Championship finish: Runner-up (second in stroke play)
Top returners: Cynthia Lu (Jr.), Briana Chacon (Sr.), Ching-Tzu Chen (Sr.), Brittany Shin (Sr.)
Key departures: Heather Lin, Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen
Arriving: Minori Nagano (Jr.), Ashleigh Park (Jr., transferred from Texas), Anika Varma (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Lu, Chacon, Chen, Nagano, Park
Scouting report: Oregon hung with Stanford until the very end last season, earning a national runner-up finish in Derek Radley’s fourth season as head coach. Impressively, the Ducks had all five starters ranked 34th or better in Golfstat at season’s end. They’ll have to replace two of them, however, as the graduated Heather Lin and Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen (a surprise departure) are gone. As long as junior and world No. 32 Cynthia Lu is atop the lineup, Oregon will remain among the elite, though the reigning Pac-12 champ did advance to second stage of LPGA Q-School. Lu’s presence is crucial because Oregon doesn’t have a ton of depth. Senior Briana Chacon won a regional last spring to go with four other top-10s and is ready for more of a breakout, and fellow upperclassman Ching-Tzu Chen is a rock-solid No. 3. But behind them, the Ducks have several boom-or-bust players. Junior Minori Nagano is the two-time defending NJCAA individual champion and is ranked No. 117 in WAGR while playing a junior-college schedule, but how will she adjust to better competition? Texas transfer Ashleigh Park was Radley’s first unofficial visit after being hired at Oregon and she had a nice freshman season with the Longhorns, but she struggled last year. Freshman Anika Varma is a sleeper from the Bay Area via India, but she’s also raw. So, there could be some bumps in the road for the Ducks, but then again, look what they did a season ago. With Radley at the helm, don’t rule out anything.
Coach’s take: “I’m forever thankful for those special five young ladies to believe in [assistant] Monica [Vaughn] and myself, and work tirelessly to gain confidence and put us in position. Coming up short stings, but I’m forever thankful for them, and I tell them all the time, they’re champions to me. … It’s not going to be easy [to get back to the final]. Losing Heather and Sofie will be a challenge to replace, but I think the girls are up for the challenge.” – Derek Radley
Final 2021-22 rank: 6
2022 NCAA Championship finish: Quarterfinalist (fourth in stroke play)
Top returners: Annabel Wilson (Sr.), Alessia Nobilio (Soph.), Emilie Paltrinieri (Sr.), Caroline Canales (Soph.), Ty Akabane (Jr.), Zoe Campos (Soph.)
Key departures: Emma Spitz, Simar Singh
Projected starting lineup: Wilson, Nobilio, Paltrinieri, Canales, Akabane
Scouting report: How do you fill the void left by a three-time first-team All-American in Emma Spitz? In head coach Carrie Forsyth’s experience at UCLA, someone always seems to step up the season after a superstar’s departure. However, this season could be different in that five or six Bruins may collectively overcome Spitz’s absence. Let’s start with senior Annabel Wilson, who played sparingly last year as she underwent significant swing changes. The work is paying off so far, as she was a semifinalist at the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Sophomore Alessia Nobilio also enters the fall with momentum after winning the English Women’s Amateur. She had four top-5s last season, but she’ll need to rein in the inconsistency after also finishing T-30 or worse five times. Like her fellow Italian Nobilio, junior Emilie Paltrinieri has previously been a top-30 amateur in the world, but she lost her game during the yearlong COVID break and has only recently gotten it back. She made the quarters of the British Women’s Amateur after a decent finish to last spring. Sophomore Caroline Canales was a walk-on as a freshman, yet she played in 11 tournaments and rankings-wise was UCLA’s second-best player behind Spitz at No. 65 in the nation. She, too, had a solid summer with three top-4s in big California amateur events. Junior Ty Akabane finished just inside the top 100 of Golfstat last season thanks to a nice NCAA Championship (T-21). And even sophomore Zoe Campos, who was No. 200 in the country last season, is on the rebound having made the Round of 16 at the North and South Women’s Amateur and getting into match play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur. While UCLA likely won’t have a player like Spitz who will contend for the Annika Award or make first-team All-America, there is arguably no team more balanced 1-6 than the Bruins, and that counts for something.
Coach’s take: “I fully expected us to get into match play last year. I wasn’t surprised by it because I know how good our team is. I believe we underachieved, and we have been underachieving. These girls were some of the best players in the world prior to COVID, and so we’ve had to make up for that, and I’m hoping this is the year that we’re there, that these girls, who have seen incredible success, will step up and play the way that I know they can.” – Carrie Forsyth
9. Texas A&M
Final 2021-22 rank: 10
2022 NCAA Championship finish: Semifinalist (third in stroke play)
Top returners: Blanca Fernandez Garcia-Poggio (Sr.), Jennie Park (Sr.), Zoe Slaughter (Jr.), Hailee Cooper (Sr.), Adela Cernousek (Soph.)
Key departures: Brooke Tyree
Arriving: Antonia Zacharovska (Fr.), Allyn Stephens (Fr.), Mia Nixon (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Fernandez Garcia-Poggio, Park, Slaughter, Cooper, Cernousek
Scouting report: After being hired from the University of Houston last summer, Gerrod Chadwell immediately bolstered the Aggies’ lineup with a few transfers and watched as Texas A&M became a top-10 team and made a surprise run to the NCAA semifinals. The Aggies ultimately fell to Oregon, but the performance put the rest of women’s college golf on notice. Now, Texas A&M must back it up, and it is prepared to do so. Seniors Blanca Fernandez Garcia-Poggio and Jennie Park finished Nos. 35 and 36, respectively, in Golfstat last season while junior Zoe Slaughter was No. 41 and sophomore Adela Cernousek No. 59. All four of those players return, and so does a rejuvenated Hailee Cooper. The fifth-year senior was a first-team All-American her freshman year at Texas, but she has struggled mightily since. She fired two rounds in the 80s last season at nationals, though her teammates were able to pick her up. If early reports are any indication, though, it could be the opposite as Cooper has arrived back in College Station looking like her old self. Freshman Antonia Zacharovska should keep qualifying interesting, but it’s likely the Aggies run back the same starting five as last spring’s NCAA Championship, though possibly with a much better Hailee Cooper.
Coach’s take: “That final round at Vanderbilt [for regionals], we had our backs against the wall, and they finally had to do it. Every event it seemed like we played really good two out of three days, and we never put that third one together, and once they finally did and figured it out, we went toe to toe with everybody at Grayhawk. … I thought we were maybe a little – disrespected is not the right word, but I don’t think everybody gave us credit for the year we had coming in. We played well pretty much everywhere we went, and I don’t know if anybody was really paying attention. But to do what we did [at Grayhawk], we took somebody’s seat at the table. So, does that put a target on our back? Maybe a little bit, but I just think that we’ve got to go validate it and we’ve got to go get that seat back to prove we’re a legitimate threat year in and year out.” – Gerrod Chadwell
10. Arizona State
Final 2021-22 rank: 8
2022 NCAA Championship finish: Ninth
Top returners: Ashley Menne (Jr.), Calynne Rosholt (Soph.), Grace Summerhays (Soph.), Amanda Linner (Sr.)
Key departures: Alexandra Forsterling, Alessandra Fanali
Arriving: Beth Coulter (Fr.), Paula Schulz-Hanssen (Fr.), Patience Rhodes (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Menne, Coulter, Schulz-Hanssen, Rosholt, Summerhays
Scouting report: It was a disappointing end to last season for the Sun Devils, who finished ninth at Grayhawk, two shots out of the eighth spot and a match-play berth. Now, they lose first-team All-American Alexandra Forsterling and veteran Alessandra Fanali. What remains is a very young team with just one senior and three freshmen who can all play right away. Head coach Missy Farr-Kaye says competition at home will be fierce and no lineup spot is safe, but she is expecting junior Ashley Menne to be a regular atop the lineup and assume a big leadership role. Menne had four top-10s, including two runner-up finishes last season, but for comparison, Forsterling had seven top-10s, including a win. The other returners all have potential. Sophomore Calynne Rosholt started her college career with eight straight top-20s, but she was barely a factor in the postseason. Grace Summerhays arrived last spring and was a regular in the lineup, though she's still got a ton of room for growth. And senior Amanda Linner hasn’t lived up to expectations so far, but the talent is still there; she just needs to unlock it and play without expectations. Those three will be pushed hard by the freshmen, especially Beth Coulter, who won both the Irish Girls Close and Irish Women’s Close titles this summer, and fellow top-135 amateur Paula Schulz-Hanssen, who captured the 2020 European Ladies and has been ranked as high as seventh in WAGR. Maybe this team is a year away, but maybe this youthfulness will be a boon and propel Arizona State back into match play in the third and final NCAA Championship at Grayhawk before nationals heads to San Diego in 2024.
Coach’s take: “I think it hurt just enough that we missed match play by such a short amount, and then our returners, some of them watched the men’s team in the final, and man, there’s nothing harder than watching a team that just lost the NCAA Championship. It was brutal, but I think it was meaningful to see how much it hurt. Just heartbroken for those young men, especially the seniors, they were just devastated. It’s a jolt of reality and perception of how much it means because if you win, you get to celebrate it for the rest of your life. So, for us, the sweet spot is that we focus on the process. We all know where we want to be the last day of the championship. We all know what we want to be holding on the 18th green. So, let’s just focus on the process, embrace the grind and let go of the outcome because the outcome is the outcome, and you can’t control it.” – Missy Farr-Kaye
11. Texas: Losing Sara Kouskova will hurt, but the Longhorns added a few new pieces that could vault them back into the NCAA match-play picture. Freshman Cindy Hsu has a chance to be an All-American out of the gates while transfer Faith Kilgore was the fifth-ranked player in D-II last season. They should compete for lineup spots behind sophomore Bohyun Park, senior Sophie Guo and junior Bentley Cotton. Park led the team in scoring average as a freshman and tied Kouskova for top-10s (four) while Cotton played some big rounds late in the spring. This ranking assumes Guo returns to form, as she’s dropped outside the top 200 in WAGR after reaching as high as 40th earlier in her college career.
12. Oklahoma State: If you needed proof on just how big an impact two players can have on a team, look at what happened to the Cowgirls last spring. Oklahoma State was undefeated and ranked second in the nation after the fall, but following the early-spring departures of Caley McGinty and Isabella Fierro, the Cowgirls struggled, finishing 19th at nationals and slipping to No. 15 in the final Golfstat ranking. Still, eight of the 11 players from their 2021 NCAA runner-up squad remain in Stillwater, notably junior All-Americans Maddison Hinson-Tolchard and Rina Tatematsu. Freshman Cecilie Leth-Nissen isn’t nearly a highly ranked as her younger sister Amalie, the Danish junior who is sixth in WAGR, but head coach Greg Robertson expects her to contend right away for a spot in the starting lineup.
13. Virginia: There was a lot to like about the Cavaliers last season as they finished the year ranked ninth in Golfstat and made the final round of the NCAA Championship. However, nothing Virginia did really jumped off the page – no team or individual wins, and a 15th at Grayhawk. Gone is Beth Lillie, but sophomore Amanda Sambach and junior Jennifer Clearly (nine combined top-10s last season) are ready to lead. If senior Virginia Bossi bounces back from shoulder surgery and fellow senior Riley Smyth proves last year’s down performance was a fluke, Virginia should start winning tournaments again.
14. Florida: This year’s Gators have chips on their shoulders after coming up one shot shy of advancing to the NCAA Championship last spring. Four of five starters are back, including the senior trio of Annabell Fuller, Marina Escobar and Jackie Lucena. While no one stands out as a surefire All-American necessarily, the Gators should be confident with their depth, especially with Florida State transfer Taylor Roberts now in the fold after redshirting last season. If someone steps up as a clear No. 1, Florida won’t just get back to nationals for the first time since 2019, they could be playing into Monday.
15. Georgia: The Bulldogs return their top eight players from last year’s team that nearly knocked off eventual national champion Stanford in the quarterfinals. The goal this season is to not only make it back to NCAA match play and go further, but to sustain that type of play all season. Fifth-year senior Jenny Bae and fellow seniors Caterina Don and Candice Mahe headline a senior-laden roster that will be bolstered by the spring addition of freshman Matilda Jonsson, a top-350 amateur from Sweden who could immediately slot into the starting lineup upon her arrival in Athens.
16. Michigan: A veteran-laden team with four seniors and a junior, the Wolverines are tired of finishing 20th at the NCAA Championship, which they’ve done in each of the past two seasons. Though she’s going through LPGA Q-School, senior Ashley Lau is this squad’s star after a three-win junior campaign. Junior Monet Chun and senior Mikaela Schulz also won tournaments last season. Then there’s senior Hailey Borja, one of the more unheralded players in the country. There’s budding confidence in Ann Arbor entering the fall because while Michigan missed the 54-hole cut at Grayhawk, they had two players (Lau and Borja) finish in the top 13 individually. Add more consistency at the bottom of the order and the Wolverines are up there with the nation’s elite teams.
17. Arkansas: The Razorbacks were hit hard by the midseason departure of Brooke Matthews, but kudos to that group for still getting to Grayhawk, even if they finished T-22. Senior Kajal Mistry stepped up in Matthews’ absence last spring, and she’s back along with a plethora of players ranked in the 200s and 300s of WAGR, most notably junior Cory Lopez and seniors Ela Anacona and Julia Gregg. That doesn’t even count UNLV transfer Kendall Todd and freshman Reagan Zibilski, an AJGA All-American. If Mistry ascends into All-America territory, Arkansas has a true horse again and could sneak up on some teams in the postseason.
18. Ole Miss: To call last season a massive disappointment might be an understatement. The Rebels missed out on defending their NCAA title by not making it out of regionals, and they finished the year ranked No. 26 by Golfstat. It’s tough to see a huge rebound this season, as Ole Miss will have to replace the graduated Julia Johnson, but a small one is possible. Senior Chiara Tamburlini has first-team All-American potential while a healthy Ellen Hume is a huge boost. Freshman Nicole Gal and Florida State transfer Elle Johnson could also be impact arrivals.
19. Auburn: Have the Tigers been fun to watch in the postseason these past few years or what? Unfortunately, many of Auburn’s key players over that span are gone – Kaleigh Telfer, Mychael O’Berry, Julie McCarthy. But while the Tigers will be a bit more inexperienced this season, they can still lean on veterans such as senior Megan Schofill and junior Anna Foster, who were both impact players on last year's NCAA semifinal team that lost to Stanford. At the bottom of lineup, look for freshmen Casey Weidenfeld (redshirt) and Rachel Gourley to have plenty of opportunity to contribute.
20. San Jose State: It’s probably more a testament to the growing depth in the women’s game than anything else that the Spartans, ranked third in last season’s final Golfstat ranking, slot in just inside the top 20 here. Seniors Kajsa Arwefjall and Antonia Malate and sophomore Lucia Lopez Ortega combined for nine top-5s last season, so at the top, San Jose State is really good. Two problems, though: Depth is a concern, and the Spartans no longer have the luxury of first-team All-American Natasha Andrea Oon, who won conference and regional titles last season while finishing second or third five more times, including a runner-up at the NCAA Championship. Oon’s departure is arguably the most impactful in the country.
21. Kentucky: The Wildcats showed flashes last season, and though they finished the spring ranked inside Golfstat’s top 25, the postseason results weren’t great – T-11 at SECs, T-7 at regionals. The world rankings suggest, however, that the days of Kentucky being an afterthought are over (13th best WAGR average among five starters). Seniors Jensen Castle (2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion) and Marissa Wenzler (2021 Women’s Western Amateur winner) have proven they can win big-time events, though Wenzler did not translate that success to the college game last season. Junior Laney Frye might be this team’s best player, and the addition of Clemson transfer Ivy Shepherd could be the missing piece.
22. Duke: Losing Gina Kim midseason was always going to be hard to overcome, so it wasn’t that big of a shock to see Duke miss the NCAA Championship for just the second time since the 1990s. Though, with senior Erica Shepherd and juniors Phoebe Brinker and Anne Chen now leading the way, it would be surprising if the Blue Devils weren’t back at Grayhawk this spring. Head coach Dan Brooks typically keeps a small roster, but there’s a chance for all seven players to contribute this season, especially if freshman Andie Smith is as good as she was on the AJGA circuit this past year.
23. Baylor: Gone is this program’s all-time best player in Gurleen Kaur, at least if you go by career scoring average. Kaur had more top-5s last season (six) than the rest of her teammates combined (four). The void left by Kaur will be impossible to fully fill, but if the Bears are going to overcome some recent struggles at the NCAA Championship, head coach Jay Goble will need big leaps by his new leaders, juniors Rosie Belsham and Britta Snyder, and quick transitions by top newcomers Silje Ohma (freshman from Norway) and Sera Hasegawa (transfer from East Tennessee State).
24. Mississippi State: Like many up-and-coming programs, the Bulldogs were fairly inconsistent last season, but when they were on, they were good. After a T-11 at SECs, Mississippi State punched its ticket to nationals for the first time since 2014 and finished 17th. Blair Stockett has graduated, but sophomore Julia Lopez Ramirez is back to lead this group after posting seven top-5s last season. Three seniors – Abbey Daniel, Hannah Levi and Ashley Gilliam – provide a solid core of experience, and watch out for freshman Surapa Janthamunee, a top-400 amateur from Thailand.
25. Alabama: Few teams in the country have a player like junior Benedetta Moresco, who has a win and eight other top-10s over the past two seasons. However, this Crimson Tide team will have to rely on its freshmen more than most squads, and in this case that’s Kynadie Adams and Taylor Kehoe. There could be some growing pains, but Moresco should keep Alabama relevant no matter what.
26. UCF: The Knights are on the rise as they return their four top players, including junior Jess Baker, this summer's British Women's Amateur winner, and senior Tunrada Piddon (five top-5s last season) while adding transfers Anna Nordfors (Campbell) and Laura Edmonds (FGCU) plus freshman Pimpisa Sisutham, who might have the best nickname in college golf, “Sandwich.” The next step is contending with the best teams, as UCF was 11th at its home event and regionals last season.
27. Arizona: If there was one positive to the Hou sisters turning pro midseason it was that freshmen Carolina Melgrati and Lilias Pinthier were forced to grow up fast. Both were top-90 players in Golfstat with Melgrati ranked No. 23 and an All-America honorable mention. Senior Gile Bite Starkute is a steady No. 3 and freshman Julia Misemer will be counted on heavily after making the Round of 32 at the U.S. Women’s Amateur this summer. Who plays No. 5 could be a question, but the training wheels are off, and it’s time for Arizona to get back to the NCAA Championship after finishing a surprise sixth at regionals last spring.
28. TCU: Anytime you have a player like sophomore Caitlyn Macnab, who had five top-3s as a freshman, you can’t be counted out. So, while Sabrina Iqbal has moved on, the Horned Frogs should be able to build on their 21st-place finish at Grayhawk last spring. Part of the reason to be high on TCU is the addition of freshman Sofia Sa, who is knocking on the door to the top 200 in WAGR. But there is some concern that this team could lack the firepower throughout the lineup that most of the top-20 teams in the country possess.
29. Michigan State: Six of the top seven players return for the Spartans, who overcame a rough start to last fall (three straight 12th-place finishes) to finish fifth at regionals, one place out of nationals. Senior Valery Plata is veteran leader, but don’t be surprised if sophomore Brooke Biermann takes over as the team’s top scorer. Freshman Paula Balanzategui should have something to say about who’s in the lineup as well.
30. Ohio State: How big was the addition of Oklahoma State transfer Caley McGinty? With a top-10 amateur atop the lineup in McGinty, who is expected to be eligible immediately despite this being her second transfer, Ohio State goes from a fringe top-50 team into the top 30. And with a featured pair of McGinty and senior Aneka Seumanutafa, the Buckeyes might be better than that.
Golf Channel's Preseason Rankings
Top 30 women's teams
2. Wake Forest
3. South Carolina
6. Florida State
9. Texas A&M
10. Arizona State
12. Oklahoma State
18. Ole Miss
20. San Jose State
24. Mississippi State
29. Michigan State
30. Ohio State
Next five: 31. Texas Tech, 32. Miami, 33. Tennessee, 34. Washington, 35. Oregon State
Top 30 women's players
PRESEASON FIRST-TEAM ALL-AMERICAN
1. Rose Zhang, Stanford
2. Ingrid Lindblad, LSU
3. Amari Avery, USC
4. Rachel Kuehn, Wake Forest
5. Rachel Heck, Stanford
6. Carolina Chacarra, Wake Forest
7. Hannah Darling, South Carolina
8. Benedetta Moresco, Alabama
9. Emilia Migliaccio, Wake Forest
10. Cynthia Lu, Oregon
PRESEASON SECOND-TEAM ALL-AMERICAN
11. Caley McGinty, Ohio State
12. Bohyun Park, Texas
13. Amelia Williamson, Florida State
14. Ashley Lau, Michigan
15. Charlotte Heath, Florida State
16. Brooke Seay, Stanford
17. Erica Shepherd, Duke
18. Carolina Melgrati, Arizona
19. Latanna Stone, LSU
20. Chiara Tamburlini, Ole Miss
PRESEASON THIRD-TEAM ALL-AMERICAN
21. Megha Ganne, Stanford
22. Louise Rydqvist, South Carolina
23. Amanda Sambach, Virginia
24. Brianna Navarrosa, USC
25. Carla Tejedo, LSU
26. Blanca Fernandez Garcia-Poggio, Texas A&M
27. Anna Morgan, Furman
28. Ashley Menne, Arizona State
29. Kajsa Arwefjall, San Jose State
30. Annabel Wilson, UCLA
Just missed: 31. Briana Chacon, Oregon; 32. Lottie Woad, Florida State; 33. Caitlyn Macnab, TCU; 34. Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, Oklahoma State; 35. Megan Schofill, Auburn