Troy’s defending Sun Belt golf champs look to repeat
TROY, Ala (troytrojans.com) – Troy, the two-time defending Sun Belt Conference women’s golf champions, heads to the Raven Golf Course in Miramar Beach, Fla., looking to build on a successful spring and claim its third straight Sun Belt title.
Play opens on the par-71, 6,171-yard course Sunday with split tee times. Troy, Texas State and Little Rock – the three highest ranked teams in the league via Golfstat – will tee off beginning at 8:15 a.m. (CDT) on No. 1.
Led by one of the nation’s top players in Fátima Fernández Cano, Troy has won two of its last three tournaments heading into the Sun Belt Championship, including a 17-shot victory at the Ole Miss Intercollegiate to close out the year.
“You can’t take the past championships away,” head coach Bart Barnes said. “We are not going into it with a defending mentality or anything of that nature. For us, we just want to put our best foot forward and see how the results work out.
“We have been playing with a lot of confidence lately,” Barnes said. “The ladies have played aggressively, controlled but aggressive, and that has led to a lot of birdies. When you are making a lot of birdies, and you can eliminate some of those mistakes, you are going to have some really nice rounds and we have been able to do that.”
Cano, who is ranked 21st in the latest World Amateur Golf Rankings, has won five of her eight tournaments this season and ranks seventh in the country with a 71.74 stroke average and -0.17 score versus par. She enters the Sun Belt Championship ranked 200 spots ahead of the league’s next ranked player in the Golfstat national rankings and has won three of the league’s four Golfer of the Month awards this year.
“I have pretty high expectations and I set some high goals for myself this year,” Cano said. “I’m excited to keep this going to the conference meet and hopefully on to Regionals and Nationals.”
As a team, Troy has posted a 297.33 stroke average in the spring which is an improvement of 7.05 strokes from the fall. Cano’s 71.20 spring average leads the way, while freshman Bianca Lohbauer is second with a 75.24 spring average and junior Gabi Oubre’ is not too far behind with a 75.67 average.
That trio has led the Trojans the majority of the season as they have been Troy’s top three finishers in five of the eight tournaments this year. Freshman Lindsey Harrison has played her best golf of the year down the stretch with four of her last nine rounds at 3-over par or better; she enters the Sun Belt Championship with a 78.50 stroke average and a 77.80 average in the spring.
Rounding out the field for the Trojans will be junior Becca Horner, who has made a living at the Sun Belt Championship the past two seasons. Horner, who has a 78.80 stroke average, finished in fifth place at last year’s Sun Belt Championship after finishing eighth her freshman year.