Both the NC State women’s and men’s golf teams will be in competition at the ACC Championships this week, with both tournaments starting Thursday and wrapping up Saturday.
The Wolfpack women will head to Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, while the men will be competing at the Old North State Club in New London.
The NC State women’s team will enter the 12-team event as the nine seed, coming off of an eighth-place finish at last year’s championships. The Wolfpack will kick off competition Thursday morning, where it will be paired with seventh-seeded UNC-Chapel Hill and eighth-seeded Louisville.
The Pack has three set golfers in its tournament rotation, with three others fighting for the final two spots at ACCs. Seniors India Clyburn and Laura Kowohl will lead the way for the Pack, as the two have been NC State’s most consistent, reliable golfers throughout the year.
Kowohl has a team-best stroke average of 74.13 and is coming off her best finish of the season at the Bryan National Collegiate, which finished back on March 31. Kowohl tied for 12th with a three-round score of 1 over par at that event, and heads into ACCs playing strong golf. She has experience at the conference tournament, as she finished 12th at ACCs last year with a 3 over par.
Clyburn is averaging an 18-hole score of 74.78 this year, and has two top-10 finishes to her name. Clyburn placed eighth at the Bryan National Collegiate with a 1 under par. At last year’s ACC Championships, Clyburn placed 23rd.
The Wolfpack’s other consistent starter is junior Mim Sangkapong, who is averaging a 75.91 this year. Like Clyburn and Kowohl, Sangkapong’s best finish came at the Bryan National Collegiate, where she finished 18th. For Sangkapong, this week will mark her first trip to ACCs.
The other two spots for the Pack women will be filled by either freshman Lea Klimentova, sophomore Monika Hartl or senior Naomi Ko. Hartl has been the strongest of the three this season, as her average score of 74.17 is the second best on the team. Hartl also has ACC experience, finishing tied for 47th last year.
Ko is averaging 75.64 strokes this season, while Klimentova is averaging a score of 76.27. Ko competed at ACCs last year, where she finished tied for 52nd, and her experience could make her the best option for the fifth and final spot.
Unlike the Wolfpack women, the NC State men have a clear-cut starting five heading into ACCs. NC State is seeded seventh in the 12-team field on the men’s side, and will be paired with No. 8 Florida State and No. 9 Virginia for the opening day of competition at the Old North State Club, the same course where the Pack placed eighth at last year’s ACCs.
Senior Stephen Franken is the Pack’s best golfer, with six top-10 finishes on the year and an average score of 70.72. Franken is coming off of his best event of the season at the Stitch Intercollegiate, where he finished first. Franken had the Pack’s best finish at ACCs last year, where he tied for sixth with a 10 under par.
Right behind Franken is junior Benjamin Shipp, who has two wins on the season and an average score of 70.72. Shipp placed 30th at ACCs last year, and has been a consistently good golfer all year. Sophomore Easton Paxton will also compete for the Pack at ACCs, and has the third-best average score on the team at 73.14. Like Franken, Paxton is coming off his best finish of the season at the Stitch Intercollegiate, where he tied for 15th. Paxton also has ACC experience, as he finished tied for 38th at last year’s ACC Championships.
Senior Harrison Rhoades finished alongside Paxton in 38th at ACCs last year, and is averaging 73.52 strokes per round this year. Rhoades’ best finish of the season came back in October, when he finished in 18th at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate.
The Wolfpack men’s final golfer is the only one on the team without ACC Championships experience. Junior Christian Salzer is averaging 73.37 strokes per round, and has a top-10 finish on the year. He tied for ninth at the Bandon Dunes Championships in March, and will wrap up the members of the Pack likely to compete at ACCs.
While neither NC State team is likely to take home an ACC title this week, both squads have a great mixture of skill and experience, and could look to make some noise in a competitive field.