Women's Golf Opens BIG EAST Spring Championship Season

St. John's Harin Lee is the top returning scorer from the 2013 championship when she finished fourth.

St. John's Harin Lee is the top returning scorer from the 2013 championship when she finished fourth.

April 16, 2014

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The spring leg of the 2013-14 BIG EAST Championship schedule gets underway Thursday when play opens at the Women’s Golf Championship presented by NEW YORK LIFE, hosted by the conference and held here at the LPGA International.

The competition is scheduled for 54 holes over three days. The BIG EAST will crown a team champion, which earns an automatic berth to the NCAA Championship, along with an individual winner. Competition is scheduled to begin Thursday-Saturday at 8 a.m. Eastern.

Butler, Creighton, Georgetown, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Xavier will vie for the 2014 women’s golf crown. St. John’s senior Harin Lee, the 2011 individual champion, is the top returning scorer from last year when she finished fourth.

Xavier is one of three BIG EAST newcomers at this year’s championship, and the Musketeers come into the event boasting two spring victories. Senior Ariel McNair, sophomore Shane Crutchfield and junior Abigail Smith are the top three seeded golfers, while the Musketeers are seeded first as a team. Lee is fourth entering the championship, and Seton Hall’s Alison Kruse is fifth.

Thursday’s threesomes will be determined by team and player seedings, while Friday’s and Saturday’s groupings are culled from the previous day’s leaderboard.

St. John’s is seeded second behind Xavier, while Seton Hall is third, Georgetown fourth, Butler fifth and Creighton sixth.

BIG EAST Team Notebooks

BUTLER The Bulldogs will make their BIG EAST Championship debut after taking first at the Big Four Classic in Carmel, Ind. Isabella Lambert bested teammate Jenna Peters in a playoff to take the individual crown. The Bulldogs finished no lower than fifth during spring competition, and also took first in their own Butler Spring Invite on March 24.

CREIGHTON comes into its first BIG EAST Championship after competing in four spring events. Like she’s done all spring, junior Katie Morel paced the Bluejays at their most recent outing at Gary Crossley Ford Kansas City Shootout with a three-round score of 239 to tie for 22nd from April 7-8. Creighton as a team took 13th. Morel has been the top finisher in all four spring outings and has carded a spring-low 76 in three rounds.

GEORGETOWN The Hoyas look to improve upon last year’s team score of 925, which placed them seventh at the 2013 BIG EAST Championship. Georgetown’s last competition of the spring before heading to Daytona Beach was match play at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in Athens, Ga., April 4-6. Senior Alice Choi picked up a 2-and-1 victory to pace the Hoyas on the final day. Georgetown authored an eight-place showing at its own Hoya Invitational which wrapped up April 1, with sophomore Patricia Lee tying for 24th as the team’s top finisher.

ST. JOHN’S Senior Harin Lee is the top returning performer from last year’s BIG EAST Championship, carding a two-under 214 (70-73-71) to take fourth. She overcame a first-round 84 in tough conditions to shoot 76 in the second round to tie for 20th at the Seton Hall Pirate Invitational April 5-6 in the Red Storm’s last outing. Sophomore Anna Kim settled for runner-up honors after losing a playoff on the second extra hole while the team took fourth. The Johnnies were one shot better than Cincinnati to take third at last year’s BIG EAST Championship.

SETON HALL With four seniors and three juniors on its roster of nine, Seton Hall has both the experience and depth to make a run at this year’s BIG EAST crown. The Pirates hosted their own invitational in Bedminster, N.J., April 5-6 and took fifth just behind St. John’s. Including the fall, Seton Hall finished no lower than seventh in nine outings with one victory and five top-three finishes. Erin McClure tied for ninth at the Pirate Invite and Ali Kruse tied for seventh at the Hoya Invitational the weekend before.

XAVIER comes into its first BIG EAST Championship after a wildly successful spring in which it claimed back-to-back titles at the Red Rocks and Rio Verde invitationals in Arizona in early March. Abigail Smith tied for fourth and Ariel McNair finished in 11th as the Musketeers finished third at the Colonel Classic in their last outing April 4-5 in Richmond, Ky. Sophomore Shane Crutchfield finished alone in second at the Rio Verde Invite with a three-round 221 (73-75-73). The Musketeers also have some familiarity with the course, having hosted their own event at LPGA International in October.