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This Week's Syllabus: Feb. 3-9

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

MEN
Updated version will be posted after Friday's final round of Amer Ari Invitational

WOMEN

Thumbnail image for Alabama logo.gif1. Alabama (Last week: 1)
Consistency during the fall season was the Crimson Tide's trademark. Team led the country in par-3, par-4 and par-5 scoring average, was first in first-round scoring average and first in sub-par strokes per round. Guess you can throw darts at their final-round stroke average and their birdies made; only ranked third and second in those categories.
Spring opener: Lady Puerto Rico Classic, Rio Mar CC (River Course), Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Feb. 13-15

Thumbnail image for UCLA logo 2008-09.gif2. UCLA (2)
Perhaps the Bruins have lost their end-of-the-fall momentum during the winter break. The time away didn't erase the memories of this squad playing inspired golf at the Landfall Tradition and the Pac-10/SEC Challenge. Maybe they'll show some rust at Palos Verdes, but they shouldn't lack for confidence.
Spring opener: Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, Palos Verdes GC, Palos Verdes, Calif., Feb. 14-16

Thumbnail image for USC logo.gif3. USC (3)
If you set the over/under on when the Trojans will win their first tournament of the season at 2 1/2 tournaments, which side would you be on? Don't forget that USC won Northrop Grumman for only the first time last year. Second spring event is the Sugar Bowl, requiring a fairly decent commute to Louisiana. Does that change your over/under pick?
Spring opener: Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, Palos Verdes GC, Palos Verdes, Calif., Feb. 14-16

Thumbnail image for LSU logo.gif4. LSU (4)
Stat that impresses me most with the Tigers is that they ranked first in final-round scoring average. Granted, Megan McChrystal individually had a 66.33 average over her last 18 holes, but being able to close out a tournament is the quality that separates the champs from the also-rans.
Spring opener:
Central District Invitational, River Wilderness GC, Parrish, Fla., Feb. 21-22

Thumbnail image for Purdue logo.gif5. Purdue (5)
This past week's Storm of the Century probably didn't help the Boilermakers as they prepared to open the second half of the season. Such a problem, however, shouldn't be an issue for a veteran team like the one from West Lafayette. The NCAA title defense begins in earnest this month and I say Purdue will be ready for it.
Spring opener: Lady Puerto Rico Classic, Rio Mar CC (River Course), Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Feb. 13-15



STAT OF THE WEEK
17
Number of golfers who played for Arizona, either on the A or B team or as individuals, at this week's Arizona Intercollegiate. The average 54-hole score at Arizona National GC for the Wildcat golfers was 227.76 compared to a 228.45 average for the entire field.


RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Will there ever be a time when the NFL stops using the roman numerals with the Super Bowl? Got to think when we get to Super Bowl XLVIII that enough might be enough, no? Or do we have to wait until Super Bowl LXXXVIII to finally change our minds?


WHAT TO WATCH FOR
* The spring season might finally be underway, but several men's collegians have their eyes on one final amateur event before focusing on good old State U. The Jones Cup at Ocean Forest GC near Sea Island has 10 of the top 40 players in the Golfstat Cup ranking listed in the field, including Oklahoma State's Peter Uihlein and Illinois' Scott Langley. Since the tournament's inception in 2001, the event has kicked off in earnest the race to make the U.S. Walker Cup team. To wit, captain Jim Holtgrieve will be in Georgia following the action. While victory doesn't lock up a spot on the 10-player team, it will go a long way to make an early impression, particularly for any player who wasn't a participant at last month's USGA practice session.

If I had to make a prediction on the winner, I like the chances of Auburn's Blayne Barber. He finished third at the event last year and has played well without winning several of the country's premier amateur tournaments the past few years. He's due.  


* The Arizona State women are attempting to defend their team title at the Arizona Wildcat Invitational, but I'm pretty sure that's not what's foremost on coach Melissa Luellen's mind as the Sun Devils take the drive south to Tucson. Merely getting her new golfers acclimated to college competition is probably the real goal as she brings in six new players to her roster and has ASU counting in a team competition for the first time since the NCAA Championship last May.

No doubt there's an unknown heading into the tournament for Luellen and associate head coach Missy Farr-Kaye as they see how their charges handle live action. Regardless of the Sun Devils' finish, Luellen and Farr-Kaye's real work will take place in the days after this first trip as they make adjustments with this newly formed group in an attempt to address the ASU's long-term success in 2011. Bottom line: Luellen and Farr-Kaye will need to employ more honest-to-goodness coaching in the next few months than they have in the past several seasons.   



TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS
MEN
Anteater Invitational
Big Canyon CC, Newport Beach, Calif.
Feb. 7-8
Host: UC-Irvine
Defending champion: UC-Irvine (-4/848) in playoff over Santa Clara; UC-Irvine's John Chin (-11/202) by four strokes over CSU-Northridge's Nick Delio
Field: Arizona, Cal Poly, CSU Fullerton, CSU Northridge, Loyola Marymount, Saint Mary's (Calif.), Sacramento State, Santa Clara, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara
Skinny: Tournament being held for 31st time. … Either Santa Clara and host UC Irvine have won the event each of the past five years. … Only five times has a non-California school won the tournament (UNLV, 1989; UTEP, 1997 & 2001; Washington, 2000; St. John's 2002)

WOMEN
Arizona Wildcat Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
GC at Vistoso, Oro Valley, Ariz.
Feb. 7-8
Host: Arizona
Defending champion: Arizona State (+8/576) by 12 strokes over Arizona; Oklahoma State's Caroline Hedwall (-6/136) by five strokes over Duke's Alison Whitaker and Arizona State's Juliana Murcia
Field: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Gonzaga, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Northern Arizona, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Stanford, UC Davis, Washington

Skinny: I get the feeling the host Wildcats will help shed their label as the forgotten Pac-10 power (they did have four top-five finishes in the fall with one victory and a 48-6 head-to-head mark) with a strong showing this week. 
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