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This Week's Syllabus: End of the Fall edition

FAB FIVE
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OSU Pistol Pete logo.jpg1. Oklahoma State (Last week: 1)
So far, so good for the Cowboys. Two wins and four top-five finishes as Peter Uihlein and his partners in crime took care of business during the fall season. If OSU has started slowly, the squad could have used the excuse that the tournaments that matter don't begin until April. They didn't do either and are looking like they're not taking anything for granted in their attempt to be ready for NCAAs at Karsten Creek.
Next event: Fall season over

Alabama logo.gif2. Alabama (2)
Sure Bobby Wyatt and Cory Whitsett were blue-chip recruits, but you never know how freshmen will acclimate to college life (think Peter Uihlein during his first semester at OSU). So it is that the Crimson Tide should be rather thankful for the success they have had this fall. Down side? The expectations will be pretty high come spring.
Next event: Fall season over

UCLA logo 2008-09.gif3. UCLA (NR)
Now that's what I call a come back. Down 11 strokes to Stanford enter the final round at the Gifford Collegiate, the Bruins blitzed the field and claim a 13-stroke victory. I mentioned I wanted another event to truly access how good Derek Freeman's group might be. Medalist Patrick Cantlay and the rest of the boys from Westwood gave it to me.
Next event: Fall season over

Florida logo.gif4. Florida (3)
The Gators are arguably the most improved team from a year ago. Tyler McCumber has lowered his stroke average by 3.66 (75.33 to 71.67) while Bank Vongvanij has dropped his by 2.58 strokes (72.25 to 69.67). They're not going to sneak up on anybody in the spring, but they're also not going away any time soon.
Next event: Fall season over

Iowa logo.gif5. Iowa (5)
The Hawkeyes are going on 19 years since they last claimed the Big Ten conference title. The rest of the league isn't going to just roll over for Mark Hankins' squad but you get the feeling U of I isn't looking for handouts. The squad is quite comfortable just going out and taking matters into their own hands.
Next event: Fall season over


WOMEN
UCLA logo 2008-09.gif1. UCLA (4)
The West Coast has been heard from loud and clear as the Bruins win their second straight tournament with a 11-stroke victory over Alabama at the Pac-10/SEC Challenge. Since this is the top five RIGHT NOW, Carrie Forsyth's group sneaks into the No. 1 spot in the Fab Five, although Alabama could make the case for having the better fall season overall.
Next event: Fall season over

Alabama logo.gif2. Alabama (1)
Taking second against a stacked field at the Pac-10/SEC Challenge is more than a respectably way for the Crimson Tide to end the fall. Another positive was that senior Courtney Harter actually had her best finish at Stanford GC. No reason to think that Mic Potter's squad won't be a favorite in every tournament it plays in throughout the spring.
Next event: Fall season over

LSU logo.gif3. LSU (2)
Conversely, a 13th-place showing from the Tigers at the Pac-10/SEC Challenge can't help but leave them with the proverbial bad taste in their mouths as they head into the winter break. If there's any solace, it is knowing that their top two players, Megan McChrystal and Tesha Teachman, both were out of the lineup in California.
Next event: Fall season over

USC logo.gif4. USC (5)
The Trojans remained winless for the fall, but collected their fourth top-three finish in four starts with their third-place showing. Perhaps even more important, freshman Sophia Popov's individual victory provides the German native a boost of confidence and makes the one-two-three punch of Lizette Sales, Lisa McCloskey and Popov among the best in the country. 
Next event: Fall season over

Purdue logo.gif5. Purdue (3)
If you were a believer in an NCAA repeat for the Boilermakers back in August, there's plenty of reason to remain on the bandwagon in November. They still have all five players back from a year ago, plus a talented freshman that provides them additional depth. 
Next event: Fall season over


STAT OF THE WEEK

MitsukiKatahira.jpg29
Number of strokes under par that Daytona State's Mitsuki Katahira is after five tournaments this fall.

Suffice it to say, If I'm a Division I women's college coach, I'm dusting off the NCAA manual to see about the procedures for signing a junior college player mid-season. Katahira won her fourth tournament in five starts this past week, taking the Holiday Inn Express Hatter Classic title by nine strokes with a nine-under 207 total. Here are Katahira's results from the fall, playing against almost exclusively Division I competition despite playing for a junior college program.

                                                                      Victory    Avg. field
Tournament                    Finish      Score    margin      score

Lady Falcon Invite             Win         -4/140        3          164.98
USF Waterlefe                   Win         -8/208        7          240.09
LPGA Int'l Xavier                Win        -6/210        8          237.90
FIU Pat Bradley                  T-2         -2/214      ----         232.92
Holiday Inn/Hatter              Win        -9/207        9           239.88

That last column is interesting to me. If you subtract Katahira's score from the number, you find out how many strokes she beat the average score in each individual tournament. Averaging that margin, Katahira beats the average score of the field by 27.354 strokes. Compare that to LSU senior Megan McChrystal, who would be considered by some the leading candidate for national player of the year after finished first, T-4 and second in three starts this fall. On average, McChrystal beat the average score of the field in the tournaments she played by only a 15.86-stroke margin.


RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
If I'm Erica or Lindsey Bensch, sisters who play at Central Oklahoma who each had a hole in one during their practice round at KickingBird GC in Edmond, Okla., on Tuesday, I'm playing PowerBall this week. (Here is a link to the story about their feat.)


WHAT TO WATCH FOR
* A story in the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press caught my attention recently, as it quoted Nationwide Tour president Bill Calfee as being in favor of giving elite men's college golfers special exempt status to play on the developmental tour.

"We ought to create an eligibility category for first-team All-American golfers," Calfee told David Uchiyama in the days preceeding the Nationwide Tour's Chattanooga Classic. "It makes sense to take a look at a segment of players lik that who are going to be the future starts of the PGA Tour and give them experience on the Nationwide Tour."

I spoke to Calfee earlier this week to ask him just how serious he and others associated with the tour were toward such action. He confirmed that he thought the idea had some merit, but noted that there's nothing currently in the works beyond the exemption into the Nationwide Tour's Columbus, Ohio event first-teamers currently receive.

That said, there appears to be an opportunity for the Golf Coaches Association of America or some group to make a push for, if nothing else, exemptions into two or three other events for first-teamers. Consider that of the 25 players who earned PGA Tour cards off the Nationwide Tour's money list a few weeks ago, several were recent NCAA All-Americans, including 2007 and 2008 NCAA champions Jamie Lovemark and Kevin Chappell, Chris Kirk, Daniel Summerhays, Kevin Kisner and Colt Knost. Indeed players of this caliber have shown they can deliver at the Nationwide Tour level. Special exempt status would be true incentive for collegians to compete hard throughout the season. It also might serve as tool to keep golfers on college campuses longer. Instead of leaving your team in the fall to try to earn a tour card at Qualifying School, players might remain in school knowing it offers a real opportunity at a spot on the pro circuit, maybe a better chance that Q school. As golfers like to say, there is no draft that takes top college players right to the PGA Tour, nor should there be. But a little carrot for those who demonstrate prowess at the top ranks of college is worth dangling.


 

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