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The Syllabus: Texas' stampede vs. Oregon's quack attack

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

Men
Texas logo.jpeg1. Texas (Last week: 2)
If you weren't impressed with the Longhorns victory at the Jerry Pate, than maybe the one at the Jack Nicklaus caught your attention: 16-stroke triumph that would have been more. Top-10 finishes from four of the five starters (Jordan Spieth, Dylan Frittelli, Julio Vargas and Toni Hakula). Plus Cody Gribble wasn't even in the lineup. It's early but UT fans have reason to believe this might be their year.
Next event: Isleworth Collegiate, Isleworth CC, Windermere, Fla., Oct. 23-25


Oregon logo.gif2. Oregon (NR)
The Ducks seemingly came from nowhere to reach the NCAA Final Four in 2010, only to return to obscurity in 2011. Now Casey Martin's crew is two-for-two after a win at the Prestige. Have to believe the re-emergence of Eugene Wong has a lot to do with it. The former college player of the year has a T-7 and a second in his two starts.
Next event: The Alister MacKenzie Invitational, Meadow GC, Fairfax, Calif., Oct. 17-18

Stanford logo 2008-09.gif3. Stanford (1)
The Cardinal rallied early in the final round of the Prestige but couldn't quite pull off the comeback win, finishing third to the Pac-12 rival Ducks. Still, the team posted three sub-par rounds, making it four of the first six for the 2011-12 season, and five players were under par for the 54-holes at PGA West. Lots of positives.
Next event: Isleworth Collegiate, Isleworth CC, Windermere, Fla., Oct. 23-25

UCLA logo 2008-09.gif4. UCLA (3)
Finally got the season under way at the Jack Nicklaus Invite, where the fifth-place finish was a decent start without Patrick Cantlay in the lineup. His replacement, Jay Hwang, did just fine with a T-18 showing. There will be better performances ahead for the Bruins, and they might come as soon as this week.
Next event: Windon Memorial, Evanston GC, Skokie, Ill., Oct. 16-17

Georgia Tech logo.gif5. Georgia Tech (NR)
All seven Yellow Jackets who made the trip to the Brickyard Collegiate posted top-20 finishes as the Ramblin' Wreck cruised to a 17-shot victory. It's taken longer for this group to get rolling than I originally thought, (they are a young squad so maybe it should have been expected) but there is good bit of talent at Bruce Heppler's disposal.
Next event: U.S. Collegiate, GC of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga., Oct. 23-25


Women

UCLA logo 2008-09.gif1. UCLA (1)
The Bruins take their show on the road again this weekend. Coach Carrie Forsyth isn't mixing up things in her lineup, letting Stephanie Kono and Brianna Do play as individuals while the five that won at the Mason Rudolph Fall Preview starting again. 
Next event: Stanford Intercollegiate, Stanford GC, Stanford Calif., Oct. 14-16

LSU logo.gif2. LSU (NR)
With the back-nine performance (seven birdies and an eagle in the final round) at the UNC Finley Course over the weekend, the Tigers pulled out a very impressive win at the Tar Heel Invitational, making it two victories in three starts. It was the kind of performance to counter any concerns from the Mason Rudolph. The talent is obviously there ... now is the consistency?
Next event: Mercedes-Benz SEC/Pac-12 Challenge, Holston Hills CC, Knoxville, Tenn., Oct. 21-23

Oklahoma State logo.jpg3. Oklahoma State (3)
There's a good vibe coming from Stillwater, as coach Alan Bratton eluded to in last week's Podcast. This next trip, however, will be an interesting test as it will be the toughest field the Cowgirls have competed against thus far in 2011-12. Are they ready?
Next event: Stanford Intercollegiate, Stanford GC, Stanford Calif., Oct. 14-16

Alabama logo.gif4. Alabama (2)
If there's one thing that has been particularly impressive about Mic Potter lead teams in Tuscaloosa it's been their ability to close out tournaments where they have the lead. It's what makes last week's second-place finish at the Tar Heel a mild surprise, with LSU coming back to clip the Crimson Tide. This group should learn from it but I'm curious exactly how they bounce back.
Next event: Mercedes-Benz SEC/Pac-12 Challenge, Holston Hills CC, Knoxville, Tenn., Oct. 21-23

Arizona State spear logo.jpg5. Arizona State (4)
The 79.15 average drop score is a little high, and of course having a win on the resume wouldn't be bad, but it's hard to find too much fault with the start to the Sun Devils season. Big test coming up, though, at Stanford. We'll get better idea of how mentally tough this group is in the next few days.
Next event: Stanford Intercollegiate, Stanford GC, Stanford Calif., Oct. 14-16


STAT OF THE WEEK
5
Biggest number of teams to hold the No. 1 spot in the Golf World/Nike Golf men's coaches' poll in any single season since it resumed in 2001-02.

It was 2006-07, when Oklahoma State started the season in the top spot, but was unseated in the fall by Alabama, who was then knocked off by Florida in the first spring poll, who was replaced by Stanford in early March, who was replaced by Georgia to finish the spring.

I mention this only because there have been two different teams to hold the top spot in the first two polls of the 2011-12 season (UCLA and Auburn) and chances are there might be a third to claim the spot when the next poll comes out Nov. 2.




TWEET OF THE WEEK

Tweet of the week 10-13.jpg—Blayne Barber, Auburn junior


RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Is it really possible that Michelle Wie is only 22 years old this week? #beenplayinggolfforyearsnow


WHAT TO WATCH FOR
* There's been lots of press coverage this week about recent Alabama All-American Bud Cauley and his increased chances of earning a PGA Tour card without having to go to Qualifying School, thanks to his solid performances in the handful of tour starts he's gotten since leaving school after June's NCAA Championship and turning pro. While Cauley's presence has been missed in Tuscaloosa this fall--in the form of actual scores for his former college team--his success at the pro level may well help the current Crimson Tide squad as it plays out the 2011-12 season.

"I think seeing Bud play the way he has this summer has given all of us a boost," Alabama men's coach Jay Seawell told me recently. "The guys that are still here used to play with Bud on a daily basis and felt that they could keep up with him. To see him then perform the way he has, it rubs off positively on the guys. They realize they might be pretty good too and I think it gives them some confidence."

* A quick glance at Florida's inclusion in the field at The Bake at the Ocean Course and wonder if men's coach Buddy Alexander is looking for a few Ws to pad the win-loss record and not be caught on the wrong side of the .500 rule, what with the Gators being the only major conference school competing in the tournament. Before being so cynical, however, consider a conversation I had with Alexander last spring. He talked about making his team's schedule and how one of the things he's tried to do in recent years is expose his teams to top-flight golf courses wherever possible, even at the expense of playing in tournaments the Gators might have been traditionally invited to. It's why Florida played at Bandon Dunes last year and while they're going to Kiawah Island to play the Ocean Course, site of next year's PGA Championship, this week.

Not to be naive, Florida should benefit from playing a field that doesn't have many top-ranked teams, but I think Alexander is doing his team a service. The point of college golf is to give players a great experience and expose them to challenging environments that will develop their games. Suffice it to say, the quality of courses played is something no Gator recruit can ever complain about.  

UConn hoops swag.jpg
* No more than a minute after buzzer sounds at the end of the NCAA hoops championship, the victorious squad is putting on hats and shirts commemorating their victory (right). Well the same can now happen this year at the men's and women's NCAA golf championships. According to at story on NCAA.org, a new initiative called the "NCAA Champions Locker Room Program" will let student-athletes at all 89 NCAA national championships receive the same winners' swag.

"We thought right away that this would be a good way to enhance the student-athlete experience at championships," said Dave Clendenin, a member of an NCAA staff task force that was examining the experience at national championships. "Our current licensees were eager to be part of this, as well."



TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS
MEN
Bank of Tennessee at Blackthorn Club
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Blackthorn Club, Jonesborough, Tenn.
Oct. 14-16
Host: East Tennessee State
Field: Army, Clemson, East Tennessee State, Kent State, Louisville, Memphis, Missouri, N.C. State, Tennessee, Toledo, UNC Wilmington, Villanova, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Defending champion: Virginia (-11/853) by four strokes over Kent State; Kent State's Mackenzie Hughes (-13/203) by seven strokes over Virginia's Ben Rusch and Michigan's Joey Garber
Skinny: I personally got nervous that his tradition event was getting moved to a new location until I learned that the course's name is the only thing that's changed. Was The Ridges; now Blackthorn Club. Still the same good event.

Windon Memorial
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Evanston GC, Skokie, Ill.
Oct. 16-17
Host: Northwestern
Field: Arkansas, Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Harvard, Idaho, Indiana, Loyola (Ill.), Marquette, Marshall, Michigan, Northwestern, Penn State, Pepperdine, Purdue, UCLA
Defending champion: Michigan (+2/854) by one stroke over Ohio State; Michigan's Lion Kim (-6/207) by two strokes over Ohio State's Bo Hoag
Skinny: Tournament moved to later in the fall to help accommodate scheduling issues with host school (Eric Chun playing in the Asian Amateur). This might be one of the most eclectic fields I've seen for a top-tier tournament in a while.

Lone Star Invitational at Briggs Ranch
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Briggs Ranch GC, San Antonio
Oct. 16-18
Host: UT-San Antonio
Field: Arizona, Baylor, Houston, New Mexico, North Texas, Rice, Sam Houston State, Southern Mississippi, Stephen F. Austin, Texas A&M, Texas State, UT-Arlington, UTEP, UT-San Antonio, Weber State
Defending champion: UT-Arlington (-9/855) by seven strokes over Notre Dame; North Texas' Carlos Ortiz (-5/211) by one stroke over Texas State's Alastair Jones
Skinny: Mid-major Texas programs going to see how they hang with Texas A&M. Bet a few given the Aggies a run for their money.

AutoTrader.com College Classic
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Berkeley Hills CC, Duluth, Ga.
Oct. 17-18
Host: Georgia State
Field: Chattanooga, East Carolina, Furman, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Jacksonville, Kentucky, Minnesota, UNC Greensboro, North Florida, VCU, Wofford
Defending champion: New event
Skinny: Another tournament being held in the Atlanta area. You could play great fall schedule (Carpet Capital, Brickyard and U.S. Collegiate) and not leave state of Georgia much less the Atlanta Metro region.

The Bake at the Ocean Course
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, Kiawah Island, S.C.
Oct. 17-18
Host: College of Charleston
Field: UAB, Charleston Southern, College of Charleston, Davidson, Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Mercer, Notre Dame, Richmond, South Florida, USC Upstate
Defending champion: N.C. State (+9/873) by six strokes over Notre Dame; College of Charleston's John Duke Hudson (-2/214) by three strokes over UAB's Jason Shufflebottam and Coastal Carolina's Sebastian Soderberg
Skinny: If the wind blows, this can be a long couple of days. But the beautiful course will make up for it.

David Toms Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Southern Trace CC, Shreveport, La.
Oct. 17-18
Host: LSU
Field: Kansas State, Lamar, LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, South Alabama, SMU, Tulsa
Defending champion: LSU (-16/848) by two strokes over Arkansas; LSU's Austin Gutgsell (-10/206) by four strokes over four others
Skinny: After a solid season a year ago, the host Tigers are trying to find their way in 2011-12. Might a great place to start.

Alister MacKenzie Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Meadow GC, Fairfax, Calif.
Oct. 17-18
Host: California
Field: BYU, California, Colorado, Colorado State, Fresno State, New Mexico State, Oregon, Oregon State, Pacific, San Diego State, San Jose State, UC Davis, UC Irvine, USF, Utah, Washington State
Defending champion: California (-48/804) by two strokes over San Diego State; San Diego State's Alex Kang (-16/197) by one stroke over California's Ben An and San Diego State's Todd Baek
Skinny: A pair of undefeateds class with San Jose State (winners of three events this fall) and Oregon (two time winners) among the 16-team field. Mind you, California has won the tournament five of its eight previous playings so certainly they'll have a say too. Meanwhile, if the scores are anything like last year, bring your abacus.

WOMEN
Stanford Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Stanford GC, Stanford, Calif.
Oct. 14-16
Host: Stanford
Field: Arizona State, Denver, Kent State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Stanford, Texas, UC Davis, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Washington
Defending champion (2010): Arizona State (-12/840) by four strokes over UCLA; USC's Jennifer Song (-8/205) by three strokes over Arizona State's Carlota Ciganda
Skinny: Traditional Stanford fall event was substituted for the inaugural Pac-10/SEC Challenge, played at Stanford GC and won by UCLA

Susie Maxwell Berning Classic
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Jimmie Austin GC, Norman, Okla.
Oct. 16-18
Host: Oklahoma
Field: Coastal Carolina, Florida International, Florida State, Kansas, Kansas State, Kennesaw State, Michigan, Middle Tennessee State, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oral Roberts, Redlands CC, Texas A&M, Texas State, Texas Tech, UT-San Antonio, Wisconsin
Defending champion: Arkansas (+7/871) by five strokes over Oklahoma; Arkansas' Emily Tubert (-5/211) by two strokes over Arkansas' Kelli Shean
Skinny: The Sooners are one of those under the radar programs right now, coming off a win at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. Could play the role of "bad" hosts this week.

Hoosier Fall Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Crooked Stick GC, Carmel, Ind.
Oct. 17-18
Host: Indiana
Field: Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Gonzaga, Illinois, Illinois State, Indiana, Iowa State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Pann State, Missouri, Toledo, Western Michigan, Wichita State
Defending champion: New event
Skinny: Field represents nice slice of the Midwest landscape that will be challenged on a solid course.
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