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The Syllabus: Titanic tournaments on tap

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

Men
Oregon logo.gif1. Oregon (Last week: 2)
Co-champion is better than not sharing top honors, so the Ducks' T-1 performance at the Alister MacKenzie gives them three victories thus far in 2011-12. With one more win, Oregon will match the most it has had in an entire season. I don't know where Eugene Wong (medalist at the MacKenzie) went last year, but if I'm Casey Martin, I'm rather happy to see him back.
Next event: Gifford Collegiate, CordeValle Resort, San Martin, Calif., Oct. 31-Nov. 2


Texas logo.jpeg2. Texas (1)
A drop to No. 2 doesn't mean I think any less of the Longhorns. It's just a matter of them not playing this past week, allowing the Eugene, Ore., school to sneak past them. In my mind right now, the two programs as closer than identical twins.
Next event: Isleworth Collegiate, Isleworth CC, Windermere, Fla., Oct. 23-25

Arkansas.gif3. Arkansas (NR)
All those of you who thought the sixth-place finished at the Jack Nicklaus Invite proved the Razorbacks were just off to a fast start with wins in their opening two events, raise your hands. Now follow me in putting your hand down. With a four-stroke victory at the Windon Memorial this past week, Brad McMakin's crew showed they're not just going to fade into the backside of the top 25. 
Next event: Isleworth Collegiate, Isleworth CC, Windermere, Fla., Oct. 23-25

UCLA logo 2008-09.gif4. UCLA (4)
The Bruins made a nice final-day charge to grab a share of second place at the Windon, after giving the field took big a head start during the first two rounds. Now if the pro tours would finally wrap up so Derek Freeman would have his full roster available, maybe we'd see if the team is as deep as I think it is.
Next event: U.S. Collegiate, GC of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga., Oct. 23-25

Stanford logo 2008-09.gif5. Stanford (3)
I try hard to be objective in my reporting and writing, but I'll admit I'm pulling for David Chung to turn things around. I've watched him play lots of rounds over the years and it would be a shame for his senior season to be a struggle. It's probably good that the Cardinal is a deep squad, as the competition might be able to push him back to the player we saw in the summer of 2010.
Next event: Isleworth Collegiate, Isleworth CC, Windermere, Fla., Oct. 23-25


Women

UCLA logo 2008-09.gif1. UCLA (1)
The Bruins got a little scare in Palo Alto, but pulled this out to take the Stanford Intercollegiate title for their second win of the fall. Of course as one Twitter follower of mine noted, it wouldn't have been as close had individual runner-up Stephanie Kono been in the starting five. Her score will count—and likely will need to—this weekend in Tennessee for UCLA to keep its winning streak alive.
Next event: Mercedes-Benz SEC/Pac-12 Challenge, Holston Hills CC, Knoxville, Tenn., Oct. 21-23

LSU logo.gif2. LSU (2)
The Tigers are looking to give coach Karen Bahnsen her 35th team title since she took over the program in 1984-85. Maybe it won't happen this weekend, but I'd be shocked if it didn't come about at some point before May 2012.
Next event: Mercedes-Benz SEC/Pac-12 Challenge, Holston Hills CC, Knoxville, Tenn., Oct. 21-23

Oklahoma State logo.jpg3. Oklahoma State (3)
A fifth-place finish in Stanford ends the Cowgirls' two-tournament win streak but makes it the first time since they've put together top-five performances in three straight events since the spring/fall of 2009.
Next event: Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational, U. of Texas GC, Austin, Oct. 31-Nov. 2

Alabama logo.gif4. Alabama (4)
The Crimson Tide haven't played in the Mercedes-Benz event since 2007, but the school's history in a fall tournament hosted by SEC rival Tennessee is spotty. In 10 appearances at the Mercedes-Benz, Alabama has just one finish inside the top nine (sixth place in 1998). Still, I like this group's chances of a top five finish this weekend. 
Next event: Mercedes-Benz SEC/Pac-12 Challenge, Holston Hills CC, Knoxville, Tenn., Oct. 21-23

Auburn logo.gif5. Auburn (NR)
The Tigers have potential, as witnessed by individual wins from Carlie Yadloczky and Marta Sanz in their first two starts. Meanwhile, they've got a great venue to prove it when they reach Tennessee this weekend. Something tells me Kim Evans' group will fair well
Next event: Mercedes-Benz SEC/Pac-12 Challenge, Holston Hills CC, Knoxville, Tenn., Oct. 21-23



STAT OF THE WEEK
25, 6
Length in feet of the birdie putts holed by California junior Max Homa and Oregon senior Eugene Wong, respectively, on the final hole at Meadow GC in Fairfax, Calif., that helped the Bears and Ducks secure a share the team title at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational Oct. 18. 

"I knew Eugene wasn't going to miss," Homa said. "I stood over the putt and read it for a while. I had been in position of having a must-make putt before, so I wasn't that nervous. I felt confident when I hit it and when it went in, my emotions kind of went flying. Golf isn't always a team sport, but I knew coming into the last hole that I could help my team win. You want to perform for your team and help them win."

Each team finished with 41-under 811 scores.




TWEET OF THE WEEK
Tweet of the week 10-20.jpgCharlie Hughes, Washington junior


RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Does the dome top on my Dunkin Donuts Coffee Coolatta make me look like a amateur coffee drinker? Or does drinking a Dunkin Donuts Coffee Coolatta do that all by itself?


WHAT TO WATCH FOR
* There's something very entertaining to me--yet frustrating at the same time--about the passive/aggressive rivalry between the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational and U.S. Collegiate Championship, easily two of the best college tournaments run during the year (possibly even better than the NCAA Championship, if not for the ultimate reward of nationals) that sadly happen to be PLAYED ON THE EXACT SAME THREE DAYS, Oct. 23-25. It reminds me of two popular kids running for high school president, each trying to out do the other to impress all the rest of the kids in school to vote for them without making it seem like they're trying to out do each other.

Both tournaments are played on fantastic golf courses and offer perks to the players in the form of "tee gifts" that would make Santa Claus blush (Think bowl-game-style swag). Isleworth is played outside of Orlando in the backyard of several PGA Tour pros (literally), who sometimes come out to watch the event (hey, is that Tiger Woods?), and the club brings in all sorts of tour-type amenities to make the tournament special. The GC of Georgia membership running the U.S. Collegiate outside of Atlanta supply each player their own caddie (the only college event to do this) and have skyboxes positioned around the course for VIPs. Safe to say these aren't your grandfathers' college tournaments.

While the arms race between the two events isn't totally overt--thank goodness you don't see any smack talk between the tournament organizers--from talking to several college coaches you can tell there is a huge ego competition going on behind the scenes. (Just take a glance at the Twitter feed from Isleworth, which read in one vain serves as a nice pat on the back to the tournament and read in another might deserve a 15-yard taunting penalty. Oh, and then there's the countdown clock on the U.S. Collegiate website, which read in one vain serves as campy fun and read in another suggests the college golf world revolves around the event.)

The rivalry gets particularly interesting when hearing about the events trying to secure top teams into their fields, which is of course a challenge because they're both PLAYED ON THE EXACT SAME THREE DAYS. Mid-major schools must beg to get into the two fields, but the tournaments often are begging the big boys to grace their event so as to give it the edge over the competition. (They want your vote for student-body president!!)

I have been to the U.S. Collegiate and can vouch for it as an extremely impressive tournament. I also appreciate just why the organizers moved it from the spring to the fall two years ago, understanding the scheduling issues that arise from the club also hosting the Georgia Cup (U.S. Amateur champion vs. British Amateur champion) in March and that the course conditions and weather are often better in the fall. But does the event really have to be PLAYED ON THE EXACT SAME THREE DAYS as Isleworth?

Can't the two tournament organizers talk to each other and schedule things so the two events don't conflict? Think of how much better it would be for college golf to avoid what's going to happen next Monday, where the two events will be competing for national media coverage and essentially drowning each other out.

There are 365 days in a year (366 in 2012 actually), plenty to go around for all college tournaments. For the good of everyone involved, lets hope that Isleworth and the U.S. Collegiate can figure out a way not to schedule their tournaments to be PLAYED ON THE EXACT SAME THREE DATES. 



TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS
MEN
Isleworth Collegiate Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Isleworth CC, Windermere, Fla.
Oct. 23-25
Host: Texas Tech
Field: Alabama, Augusta State, California, Florida, Indiana, LSU, North Florida, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Stanford, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, UCF, Vanderbilt
Defending champion: Alabama (+20/884) by two strokes over LSU; Florida's Bank Vongvanij (-4/212) by two strokes over Tennessee's Robin Wingardh
Skinny: The team title is wide open seeing that the default pick of Georgia, who has won the title in four of the seven editions of the event, is not playing this year. The other three past winners (Texas, 2006; Oklahoma State, 2009 and Alabama, 2010) are back, though.

U.S. Collegiate Championship
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
GC of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga.
Oct. 23-25
Host: Georgia Tech
Field: Auburn, Clemson, Duke, East Tennessee State, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Kent State, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Virginia, Wake Forest, Washington
Defending champion: Georgia Tech (-28/836) by 27 strokes over UCLA; Georgia Tech's James White (-12/204) by five strokes over USC's T.J. Vogel
Skinny: It was a blowout last year with the host Yellow Jackets finding their groove. They should be the favorite again this time around, but a double-digit win would be surprising with Auburn, UCLA and Washington all in fair form.

Old Dominion/OBX Collegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Kilmarlic GC, Powell's Point, N.C.
Oct. 23-25
Host: Old Dominion
Field: Delaware, Drexel, Elon, Georgia, George Mason, Hartford, James Madison, Liberty, Longwood, Louisville, Maryland, Old Dominion, Radford, Richmond, St. Joseph's, Towson, William & Mary, Winthrop
Defending champion: East Carolina (-37/827) by 23 strokes over Richmond; East Carolina's Harold Varner (-20/196) by nine strokes over Furman's Matthew Broome
Skinny: Take out Georgia, ranked 28th by Golfstat, and Liberty (37) and the average Golfstat ranking of the rest of the field is slight more than 174.46. In other words, the Bulldogs and Flames should rack up a whole lot of Ws in North Carolina.

Herb Wimberly Intercollegiate
New Mexico State GC, Las Cruces, N.M.
Oct. 24-25
Host: New Mexico State
Field: Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico State, Northern Colorado, Rice, San Jose State, Texas State, UNLV, UTEP, Weber State, Western New Mexico, Wichita State
Defending champion: Kansas (+6/858) by one stroke over UNLV; New Mexico State's Timothy Madigan and Idaho's Matt Rawitzer (-5/208) co-medalists
Skinny: The event started in 1966, but it has been 15 years since the Aggies renamed their home tournament to honor their former head coach.


WOMEN
Mercedes-Benz SEC/Pac-12 Challenge
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Holston Hills CC, Knoxville, Tenn.
Oct. 21-23
Host: Tennessee
Field: Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Oregon, Oregon State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington, Washington State
Defending champion (at Stanford GC in 2010): UCLA (+4/856) by 11 strokes over Alabama; USC's Sophia Popov (-6/207) by one stroke over UCLA's Stephanie Kono
Skinny: Second-year event found an SEC home with Tennessee holding the event in place of its annual fall tournament, where the Lady Vols have won the past two years. Last year was the first time the winning team shot a under-par score for 54 holes (-15/849). 

Memphis Women's Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Ridgeway CC, Germantown, Tenn.
Oct. 24-25
Host: Memphis
Field: Austin Peay, Boise State, Butler, Central Arkansas, Memphis, Montana, Rollins, Sam Houston State, Samford, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, UAB, UT-Pan American, Xavier
Defending champion: Illinois (+47/615) by six strokes over Memphis and Missouri State; Mississippi State's Erika Thornton and Southern Mississippi's Vicky Correa (+5/147) co-medalists
Skinny: Tournament returns for a second year after having been dormant since 2002.

Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Boulder Creek GC, Boulder City, Nev.
Oct. 24-26
Host: UNLV
Field: BYU, Colorado State, East Carolina, Fresno State, Idaho, Long Beach State, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pepperdine, San Diego State, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UNLV
Defending champion: Arkansas (-18/846) by 23 strokes over Kent State; Arkansas' Emily Tubert (-11/205) by five strokes over three others
Skinny: Tournament has traditionally been witness to lots of low scores.

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