Sun Belt golfers continue spring season as conference championships approach

From the Sun Belt Conference

For the second consecutive month, the North Texas men and the FIU women have posted the lowest totals in Sun Belt Conference Golf to set the pace at the top as action continues into April.

Rodolfo Cazaubon, a Tampico, Mexico product, leads the league on the men's side with a 71.78 average for the reigning SBC Champion Mean Green. The team won the Squire Creek Intercollegiate, beating out 10 other teams on March 11-12 to highlight their success in the month.

Cazaubon played nearly flawless golf as he won the Argent Financial Classic. He finished at 9-under par with a 207 and it was the third win of the season for Cazaubon as North Texas won the event for their first team title of the year. Cazaubon, playing the best golf of his career, has finished either first or second in four of the last five tournaments and is ranked No. 26 in the nation among individual golfers this season.

Six FIU women rank in the SBC top-10 individual stroke leaders, with freshman Meghan MacLaren at the top with a 74.29 average. The Panthers team stroke average of 299.10 is more than six strokes ahead of UALR's 305.92 score in second-place. Senior Tania Tare led FIU at the SunTrust Gator Invite with a score of 224.

Georgia State's Jonathan Grey holds the second-best overall average on the men's side with a 72.07. He won his third event of the year at the Mission Inn Spring Spectacular, shooting 70, 71 and 67. The win helped move the Panthers into third place in the SBC as a team with a 295.33 average. The Panthers are just 0.13 strokes behind South Alabama for second place and will look to for a big showing this weekend at the Old Waverly Championship. Grey was rewarded with the league's Golfer of the Month honors as voted on by the conference membership.

The UALR men are in fourth with a 297.36 total and are coming off a 5th of 20 place finish at the ASU Red Wolves Invitational. The Trojans will take part in the Jim West Intercollegiate on April 8-9, the last tune-up before the SBC Championships on April 22-24.

Sophomore Alfred Kerstis was UALR's top finisher in two of three tournaments over the last month. The Gothenburg, Sweden-native finished at 221 (+5) at the Argent Financial Classic in Choudrant, La., to tie for 14th place among individuals. Kerstis tied for tenth at the UALR/First Tee Classic on May 26, and most recently finished in a tie for 12th at the ASU Red Wolves Invitational, shooting 218 (+8) for the tournament.

On the women's side, Troy's Sofia Bjorkman earned SBC Women's Golfer of the Month as she has finished in the top-10 in seven of the eight tournaments. Bjorkman began the month of March with a seven-over, 223, to finish the Kiawah Island Classic tied for sixth, before finishing fourth in the Lady Golden Eagle tournament. The senior led Troy to two-straight third place finishes over those two tournaments, one in which Troy finished in the top-three out of 32 teams.

UALR's Emelie Westrup holds the league's second-best scoring average at 74.60 and is coming off another stellar month. She recorded a fourth-place finish at the Rio Verde Invitational on March 8-10 where she fired back-to-back rounds of one-over par 73 to end the tournament at 146 (+2), just two shots back of the winner. Westrup went on to add a couple of top-25 finishes at the UALR Classic and the Challenge at Onion Creek.

Also at the UALR Classic, Middle Tennessee sophomore Allie Knight tallied her best finish of the year in leading the Blue Raiders to a second-place finish. Knight finished tied for seventh with a three-round total of 232, one stroke shy of her season-low. After carding an 80 in the first round, she knocked four strokes off to register a 76 in each of the final two rounds. Knight has now recorded three top 15 finishes this season and has a stroke average of 78.33.

MT, who sits in fifth place in the SBC stroke leaders, will close out the regular season this weekend at the UNCW Seahawk Classic.

The 2013 Sun Belt Conference Women's Golf Championship will take place April 15-17, while the Men's Championship will take place April 22-24. Both championships will be contested at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at The Shoals.