The Local Knowlege

News & Tours

This week's syllabus: Feb. 13-19

THE FAB FIVE
My look at the top five teams in the country right now

MEN

Georgia_logo_200809 1. Georgia (Last syllabus: 1)
I'd like to see the Bulldogs play once in the spring before I give up the top spot to another school.
Spring opener: Puerto Rico Classic, Rio Mar GC (River course), Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Feb. 27-March 1

Usc_200809_logo 2. USC (2)
That said, if the Trojans put up another 'W' at home in a few weeks like they did to start the spring in Hawaii, I'm going to have no choice put to put them ahead of Georgia.
Next event: USC Collegiate Invitational, North Ranch CC, Westlake Village, Calif., Feb. 23-24

Oklahomastatelogolatest 3. Oklahoma State (3)
Freshman Morgan Hoffmann might have let the Jones Cup slip away from his last weekend, but he played awfully well the first 51 holes at Ocean Forest GC. Shows you the depth on the Cowboys' roster when this guy actually didn't crack their line-up in the fall opener.
Spring opener: Puerto Rico Classic, Rio Mar GC (River course), Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Feb. 27-March 1

Alabama_logo_200809 4. Alabama (4)
A pair of Crimson Tide golfers--senior Matthew Swan and freshman Bud Cauley--appear on the watch list for the 2009 Ben Hogan Award.
Spring opener: John Hayt Collegiate Invitational, Sawgrass CC, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Feb. 22-24

Illinois_logo_200809 5. Illinois (5)
Fighting Illini have had all winter break to hear about their rise from nowhere into the national rankings. Time to see if they're still hungry for more.
Spring opener: Big Ten Match Play Championship, Heron Bay GC, Coral Springs, Fla., Feb. 13-14


WOMEN
Ucla_logo_200809 1. UCLA
(1)
Hard to imagine anyone being disappointed at a third-place performance at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, but that's likely the case with the Bruins. Still, they had five players finish in the top 13 individually, so things aren't all bad in Westwood.
Next event: Arizona Invitational, Peninsula GC, Puerto Penasco, Mexico, Feb. 22-24

Arizona_state_logo_200809 2. Arizona State (2)
On paper, of course, the Sun Devils looked to be a much deeper squad, but you never know until you actually see them on the course. Well, after an impressive victory at the Northrop Grumman, without the NCAA champ in the line-up, now we all know.
Next event: Arizona Invitational, Peninsula GC, Puerto Penasco, Mexico, Feb. 22-24

Usc_200809_logo_2 3. USC (3)
Defending NCAA champs, fourth at the Northrop Grumman, are still going to be a factor this spring, keeping UCLA and ASU honest in the Pac-10 if nothing else. Lizette Salas (T-4) continued her strong showing from last fall at Palos Verdes, as did Jennifer Song (T-2).
Next event: Arizona Invitational, Peninsula GC, Puerto Penasco, Mexico, Feb. 22-24

Wake_forest_logo_200809 4. Wake Forest (5)
Demon Deacons posted the low score in the final round at the Northrop Grumman to grab second place out of UCLA's hands. The ACC Championship is going to be pretty interesting come April.
Next event: LSU/Cleveland Golf Classic, University Club, Baton Rouge, La., March 13-15

Purdue_200809_logo 5. Purdue (NR)
A 21-stroke triumph at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic gets the Boilermakers off to a nice start this fall. Four golfers, including co-medalist Maria Hernandez, card top-10 finishes.
Next event: Central District Invitational, River Wilderness CC, Parrish, Fla., Feb. 16-17⿿

STAT OF THE WEEK, Part I
73.00
Lowest stroke average by any player on the TCU men's squad this season

STAT OF THE WEEK, Part II
73.33
Lowest stroke average by any player on the TCU men's squad that's played more than three rounds

STAT OF THE WEEK, Part III
70-6
The 19th ranked Horned Frogs overall head-to-head record, having posted two wins and five top-fives in five starts this season

You can read into these numbers a couple ways:
1) TCU's schedule has been light on marque tournaments (despite the high stroke averages, weaker competition has led to a strong overall record).
2) Coach Bill Montigel is getting an awful lot out of his squad (Horned Frogs beat five top-25 programs with their third-place finish at the UH Hilo Invitational last week)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
* The Purdue women are back in my Fab Five this week, thanks to their romp in Puerto Rico. What particularly caught my attention was Germany's Thea Hoffmeister, a redshirt freshman who made a nice splash in her collegiate debut, finishing tied for seventh at seven-over 223. The Boilermakers started the 2008-09 season lamenting about All-American Christel Boeljon leaving school early rather than playing her senior year. They didn't seem to suffer too much, with two team wins to close the fall, but Hoffmeister appears to give Devon Brouse's squad a fourth reliable counter (joining Hernandez, Maude Aimee Leblanc and Junthima Gulyamamitta) come the spring. If nothing else, the Big Ten title has gotten that much tougher for any team outside of West Lafayette, Ind., to win this April.

* Among the schools playing their first event of the spring this weekend at the SunTrust Gator Invitational is Duke, where Jamie Green is set to make his coaching debut with the Blue Devils. "Our guys are eager to get the spring tournament season started down at the Gator Invitational," said Green in press release. You've got to think there's a bit of excitement (if not relief) for Green, too. Finally, the spring season will be underway after what's been a crazy couple of months coming from Charlotte to Duke. There's a reason Green was such an attractive candidate for Duke--he is able to get his players to get the most out of themselves--and I think that will be evident early this spring as the Blue Devils make a run at the ACC title.

* Come the end of the spring season, when people are handing out post-season laurels, here's hoping that Pepperdine freshman Lisa McCloskey's performance at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge won't be held against her too much. Only a little more than a month removed from emergency appendectomy surgery, McCloskey hadn't played an 18-hole round until less than a week before the tournament, explaining in part the 48-over 261 she shot at Palos Verdes GC this week (course conditions, bad weather also are factors). Of course, it's a far cry from the NCAA 54-hole record 17-under 199 she posted at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown in October; in fact her season stroke average jumped from 70.78 to 74.83 after the first spring tournament. Given additional time to heal from her injury, I think we'll see more of the player in Vegas than the one at Palos Verdes.

* There are some signs of life out of the Tennessee women's program, after a second-place finish at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic. Yes, the Lady Vols finished 21 strokes behind Purdue, but considering that in four fall events their best showing was eighth place at their home tournament, this was the kind of start Judi Pavon's team needed if it was going to be considered any sort of factor nationally this spring. Particularly encouraging had to be the fact that Tennessee's final-round 297 boosted them from fifth after 36 holes to the second. Of course, as Pavon noted herself in her post-tournament comments, "We have to score better on our bad days. It was difficult to recover from shooting a 312 on the first day."

TOURNAMENTS TO WATCH
MEN
Big Ten Match Play Championship

Heron Bay GC, Coral Springs, Fla.
Feb. 13-14
Field: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Defending champion: New Event
Skinny: Conference schools, looking for a better way to knock the winter rust off, worked together to create this tournament (see my story in Golf World). Top five seeds (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan and Iowa) get byes into quarterfinals. Added benefit, of course, is getting a little team match-play experience in before the NCAA Championship. Other conferences are already interested in copying the format next season.

SunTrust Gator Invitational
   (For live scoring, link here to Golfstat)
Mark Bostick GC at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla. (Par 70, 6,701 yards)
Feb. 14-15
Host: Florida
Field: UAB, UCF, Chattanooga, Coastal Carolina, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, North Florida, Wake Forest
Defending champion: Florida (20-under 820) by 12 strokes over Florida State; Duke's Michael Schachner and UAB's Zack Sucher (seven-under 203)
Skinny: Having held the event for 31 years, the Gators have often been ungracious hosts. Last time they didn't finish either first or second in the tournament was 1988, winning 17 of the past 20 years. Suchar, meanwhile, can become the third golfer to win the tournament more than once, joining Mississippi's Dave Peege (1984, 1985) and Florida's Chris Couch (1994, 1995).

Jacksonville Invitational
   (For live scoring, link here to Golfstat)
TPC Sawgrass (Valley Course), Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (Par 72, 6,864 yards)
Feb. 16-17
Host: Jacksonville
Field: Bethune Cookman, Charleston Southern, Florida Atlantic, Jacksonville, Jacksonville State, Kentucky, Lamar, Loyola College, Stetson, USC Upstate
Defending champion: New Event
Skinny: Dolphins began practicing at TPC facility last spring and hope to hold the event on the Stadium Course in future years.

Rice Intercollegiate
Westwood GC, Houston (Par 72, 7,184 yards)
Feb. 16-17
Host: Rice
Field: UConn, Houston, Houston Baptist, Louisiana-Lafayette, Liberty, Missouri State, Nebraska, N.C. State, Northern Colorado, Pacific, Rice, San Francisco, Texas Southern, William & Mary, Winthrop
Defending champion: Baylor (14-over 878) by two strokes over UC Davis; La. Tech's Amrith de Soysa (one-over 217) by one stroke over Winthrop's Kelly Manders and Southern Utah's Matt McArthur
Skinny: Tournament being held for the ninth time and with no school that's previous won the event in the field, it's guaranteed a ninth different winner.

UTSA Invitational
   (For live results, link here to Golfstat)
Oak Hills GC, San Antonio (Par 71, 6,691 yards)
Feb. 16-17
Host: UT San Antonio
Field: Air Force, Central Arkansas, DePaul, Illinois State, Louisiana-Monroe, McNeese State, Oklahoma, Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Texas Tech, Texas State, UT Arlington, UT San Antonio and Wichita State
Defending champion: Mississippi State (12-over 864) by nine strokes over Texas Tech; Mississippi State's Noah Goldman (one-under 212) by one stroke over Texas Tech's Garrett Merrell, Oklahoma's Phillip Bryan and Wichita State's Ryan Spears
Skinny: It's been an up-and-down year for the Roadrunners and rookie coach John Knauer on the course, but he's slowly starting to change the culture in San Antonio.

John A. Burns Intercollegiate
Leiehua GC, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii (Par 72, 6,916 yards)
Feb. 16-17
Host: Hawaii
Field: Arkansas, Arizona, Auburn, BYU, Colorado State, Denver, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, San Diego, San Jose State, SMU, Texas A&M, UC Santa Barbara, UNLV, UTEP
Defending champion: Auburn (44-under 820) by 11 strokes over Texas A&M; Cal's Stephen Hale (15-under 201) by two strokes over Texas A&M's Bronson Burgoon and UTEP's Herbert Day
Skinny: So you want to earn medalist honors in this tournament? Well, you better not shoot any rounds in the 70s; the past five individual champions shot all three rounds in the 60s, with their average score in any round being 66.87. Since the event moved to Leiehua in 2000, winners have posted only three rounds in the 70s and just one round over par (San Diego State's Lars Johansson opened with a 74 in 2003)


WOMEN
Qdoba Invitational

Don Shula's Golf Resort, Miami Lakes, Fla.
Feb. 15-17
Host: Miami (Fla.)
Defending champion: East Carolina (23-over 887) by 14 strokes over Louisville; East Carolina's Abby Bools (two-over 218) by two strokes over San Jose State's Erica Moston, Miami's Jessica Steward and Kentucky's Mallory Blackwelder

Central District Invitational
   (For live results, link here to Golfstat)
River Wilderness CC, Parrish, Fla. (Par 72, 6,099 yards)
Feb. 16-17
Host: Michigan State
Field: Auburn, Duke, Iowa State, Kansas, Kent State, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Purdue, South Carolina, TCU, Texas
Defending champion: Michigan State (28-over 892) by 10 strokes over Texas A&M; Michigan State's Sara Brown (four-under 212) by seven strokes over Missouri's Julia Potter
Skinny: Six schools from the final fall Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll make their way to the Sunshine State for the ninth edition of the event.

Aztec Spring Invitational
   (For live results, link here to Golfstat)
Salt Creek GC, Chula Vista, Calif. (Par 72, 6,187 yards)
Feb. 16-17
Host: San Diego State
Field: Arkansas-Little Rock, Colorado, Colorado State, East Tennessee State, Hawaii, Long Beach State, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico State, Sacramento State, San Francisco, San Jose State, Santa Clara, Texas Tech, UC Irvine, UTEP, Wyoming
Skinny: SDSU revives its spring tournament for the first time since 2003. Lady Red Raiders are the "defending" champions, having won six years ago.

READ NOW

July 28, 2014

GolfWorld Monday

Get beyond the headlines and into the game.

Not a subscriber? Sign up Now for FREE
. Close

Thank you for signing up for the newsletter.

You will receive your first newsletter soon.
Subscribe to Golf Digest

Subscribe today
Golf Digest Perks