Written by Matthew Sokol – Campbell blog contributor
The 2015-2016 Big South Champions begin their quest for a national championship as NCAA regional play starts for Campbell Women’s Golf on May 5-7 in Bryan Park, Texas.
“For a team to qualify for the NCAA championship, they have to have several outstanding individual performances,” said Campbell golf head coach John Crooks. “The team has to be focused, and the (individual) team members have to be focused.”
The Big South championship tournament win was the 13th title in 25 years under the leadership of head coach John Crooks and the programs third conference title in the last five years.
Last Monday, the NCAA selection show was shown on the Golf Channel. The show accounted the seventy-two teams and 24 individual players that are selected for post-season play. Each regional consist of 18 teams and six individual players.
Campbell is ranked 13th in the Bryan regional site. UCLA is the top seed for the region that the Campbell women’s golf team is competing in. The Camels are ranked No.-51 nationally in this week’s Golfstat rating and No.-53 in the Golfweek/Sagarin listing.
“It was pretty exciting [winning the Big South Championship], and last year conference was disappointing toward the end,” said White, the Big South Golfer of the Year.
“Going into the last couple of holes, I knew I had to focus and just make pars. It was very exciting coming in and seeing my teammates on the last couple of holes. The team is working on short game, and course is going a lot longer than what we have played the last couple of months.”
Crooks earned his 97th tournament title for the women’s side, which is the second-most among active Division (I) head coaches. Led by junior golfer Nadine White, who took home the individual title (at) the Big South Championship at DeBordieu Club, Campbell women’s golf took massive strides throughout the 2015-16 season.
“Nadine went a step beyond,” noted her head coach.
“Last semester, she had one of the best semesters both academically and athletically in team history. She prepared well, and when the time came she was clearly the best player.”
White helped claim Campbell’s 10th individual conference title since Janet Wooten won the 1993 Big South championship and earned her fifth top five outing of the year with the finish at 3-over 219 (73-70-76) on the par-72, 6082-yard course. White also was named Big South player of the year, and the all- conference and all-championship teams.
“Going into the last couple of holes (of the Big South Tournament), I knew I had to focus and just make pars. It was very exciting coming in and seeing my teammates on the last couple of holes. The team is working on short game, and course is going a lot longer than what we have played the last couple of months.”
During the 2015-2016 season, the Brisbane, Australia native notched three tournament titles; the most tournament titles won by a Campbell player since 1999 when Kylie Pratt won four times.
This year, the women’s golf squad had a wide range of balance and depth on the team. Senior Tania Ravnjak played a key role during the season, and during the Big South tournament play.
Ravnjak recorded her third top-five display in four years of Big South Championship competition. She is now the 12th player in Big South history to be named all-conference four-straight years while also gaining all-championship honors.
Annelie Sjoholm currently ranks 32nd in the country in greens in regulation (.681) this season. She also secured top (no-hyphen needed) five finishes at the Golfweek Conference Challenge (T5th) and Fighting Camel Fall Classic (3rd) this season.
The 2014 BSC individual champion, Louise Latorre, claimed her third-straight top-15 finish in the Big South Championship back in April, earning all-conference honors for the third straight year.
This NCAA tournament play will be the 19th time in 24 years for the Campbell women’s golf team. Coach Crooks has led his squad to its fifth-consecutive post-season play. Three of the five players for the Camels, that were representatives during the 2014 and 2015 national tournament, are representing Campbell next week.
“I am a lucky man to be associated with such an outstanding program,” said Crooks. “It‘s a credit to the support staff, coaching staff, and the athletic department. The entire Campbell community contributes to the success of the team.”