Road to La Costa: Picking bracket busters in golf's May Madness
03 May 2024
by Sean Melia of AmateurGolf.com

see also: NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship, La Costa Resort and Spa - Champions Course

Baylor could make some noise in their Region (Baylor Athletics Photo)
Baylor could make some noise in their Region (Baylor Athletics Photo)

College golf’s version of March Madness is upon us. Women’s regionals kick off May 6. It’s 54 holes of stroke play for a chance to play in the National Championship at La Costa.

Each of the six regionals has 12 teams, and the top five teams advance. The expectation is that the top five seeds in each region will punch their ticket, sending seeds 6 through 12 back to campus.

That’s not always how it shakes out. Weather, travel, and end-of-season form can all play a role in generating some upsets and helping some lower seeds qualify for the National Championship. It feels like three of the regions could “go chalk” and have the top five seeds advance, but three other regions have some teams that might outperform their seeding. 

Let’s pick out some top seeds that should be on alert and find a few low seeds who can grab one of those top five seeds in their region.

Bermuda Run Regional

The top five teams don’t have to travel too far to get to North Carolina. Wake Forest is the host team and the no. 1 seed in the region. Ole Miss feels like it might be the team to watch in this region. They have some serious pedigree, but the results this spring weren’t great. Yes, they won the Valspar, but that was two months ago. Their last two results were an eighth-place finish in the Clemson Invitational and an 11th place in the SEC Championship. Juniors Caitlyn Macnab and Natacha Host Husted, along with fifth-year senior Andrea Lignell, will be the key to the Rebels advancing. 

The team that could sneak into the top five and replace Ole Miss is the University of South Florida. They have a win and two third-place finishes in their last three events. Senior Melanie Green has been superb all year, recording two wins (MountainView Collegiate and Paradise Invitational) along with seven top-3 finishes. 

East Lansing Regional

This might be a travel and weather issue, but Florida, the 3 seed in East Lansing, could be up against the elements. The alarm bells are going off for the Gators because they finished 13th in the 14-team SEC Championship. The Gators won three events in the fall, but a slower spring season and the travel might make advancing a challenge. 

Pepperdine and Southern California are also top five seeds who need to travel to East Lansing, but they are playing better golf right now. Toss in the five seed is Michigan State, the host school, and it feels like it might be the most volatile region of the six.

Seeds 6-12 in the region are not playing well either. Kentucky, Denver, and Oklahoma State don’t seem primed to slide into the top five. However, Indiana, who is the nine seed, could be in a good place. A midwestern team playing somewhat close to home and coming off a Big 10 Conference championship could be the team that replaces Florida. It would be a massive upset for a nine-seed to climb into the National Championship.

Las Vegas Regional

California, the fifth seed in the Las Vegas region, is coming into the event in poor form. They finished ninth in the Pac-12 championship, and a runner-up in the PING/ASU Invitational was the highlight of the spring. The five-seed is the easiest team to nitpick, as they are naturally on the cusp of falling out of the qualifying spots. 

Baylor could jump from the seventh seed into the top five and replace California. They finished fourth in the Big 12 Championship and won the Texas Showdown in early April. Senior Rosie Belsham has a win and three top-3 finishes for the Bears this season and will be pivotal in Baylor nabbing one of seven spots.

Check back next week for our men's regional bracket busters predictions.

ABOUT THE NCAA Division I Women's Championship

30 teams and 6 individuals not on a qualifying team make up the field for the championship of NCAA Division I women's golf.

After 72 holes of stroke play, the individual champion is crowned, and the low 8 teams advance to match play to determine the team champion.

View Complete Tournament Information

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