Big East teams love competing in the Southeast
Universities from Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Washington, D.C. can't wait for their annual conference championship in South Carolina.
Playing in the Southeast is a highlight of their season. For the past eight years the Big East Conference tournament has been played in the Southeast.
Callawassie Island Golf Club has been the host the past two years for the women and four years for the men. Callawassie has signed a five-year extension for both tournaments.
Wes Grantham, head golf professional at Callawassie, said that it's fun and exciting to host the conference championship. "We are so proud to be part of this great event," Grantham said. The tournament was held April 21-23.
Last year, the women's team from Seton Hall became the first team to capture three Big East consecutive titles. They finished 12 strokes ahead of second-place Georgetown.
This year, the Georgetown Hoyas changed that streak. Coach Katie Brophy had watched her team finish second the past three years. In her sixth season the team finally got the job done. "We love coming here," said Brophy. "The members are so gracious and make us feel special."
Brophy and the Hoyas are headed to the NCAA Championship. The individual champion, Lauren Tibbets from Butler University, won by four strokes and will also be invited to the NCAA tournament. "It was a phenomenal experience," she said. "I let things happen and got out of my own way."
The men's conference championship was also played at Callawassie Island Club, April 30-May 2. The team winner and individual champion both earned the automatic berth to the 2017 NCAA Championship.
Marquette University overcame a 17-stroke deficit in the final round to capture the championship by only one stroke over Seton Hall. This was Marquette's second crown in three years.
Marquette freshman Matt Bachmann took the individual crown with an even-par score of 216 for the 54-hole event. Marquette coach Steve Bailey said "... we talk a lot about fighting and going out and controlling the things you can control."
An interesting event occurred during the week. Coach Betty Kaufmann from DePaul University announced her retirement from coaching after 19 years at the helm. This LPGA Professional was one of the few women to coach a men's golf team in Division One Golf. Her family has a retirement home in Callawassie Island Club.
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at Brown Golf Management courses. jean.golfdoctor.harris @gmail.com; www.golfdoctorjean.com