The Pac-12 is known for its larger sports. Football, baseball, and basketball usually dominate the national headlines. Golf has flown under the radar, although this year is one of its strongest ever.
On Monday, 11 women’s golf teams from the Pac-12 head to Pleasanton, California for the conference championships, a three day-event held at Ruby Hill Golf Course.
The Pac-12 has nine teams ranked in the top 25 in the nation according to golfweek.com, making it one of the most dominant conferences.
The Ducks enter Pac-12 play ranked 21st in the nation, a mark that, while encouraging, is only eighth-best in the conference. But the Ducks aren’t worried about rankings. They know that despite the rankings, the Pac-12 is wide open for the taking.
Head Coach Ria Scott recently spent some time with some of her former teammates, one of whom is Anne Walker, the current Stanford head coach.
“[Walker’s] team, at this point last year, was No. 16 in the country and they ended up winning the national championship,” Scott said. “I know that coach Laura [Cilek] and I are very excited about the possibilities of this team and of this lineup.”
Scott also pointed out that Oregon is seeded eighth in the conference championships and a top 25 team in the country.
“When you get up here in the rankings all the teams are so close together,” Scott said. “You just never know (who is going to win) because the quality of golf in the Pac-12 is so strong.”
Oregon exemplified that statement last year. It went into Pac-12s as the seventh seed and ended up being the runner-up; part of the reason was the career tournament that Caroline Inglis had. Individually, she placed first in the field, putting together arguably the best three rounds of golf in her career. She set the record for the best score in Pac-12 Women’s Golf Championships, shooting a seven-under par (206).
Inglis will look to defend her title this year while other Ducks look to etch their name in history. Junior Cathleen Santoso is coming off of a first-place finish at the Silverado Showdown last week and is “feeling great” heading into the championships.
“I’m really happy with where our team is at right now,” Santoso said. “I think we’ve definitely got the depth and potential on our team. There’s no doubt about that.”
Oregon is the eighth seed heading into the tournament. It will face three-seed Stanford and 10-seed Oregon State in the first round.
The Ducks have played Cinderella before. If they put together three rounds of golf like they have all spring, they can play that role once again.
Follow Gus Morris on Twitter for updates all week @JustGusMorris