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The Syllabus: Master medalists

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

Men
Texas logo.jpeg1. Texas (Last week: 1)
"Four and no more" read an Internet headline after the Longhorns' sixth-place showing in Puerto Rico ended their winning streak earlier this week. Would that have still happened with Jordan Spieth in the lineup instead of in Los Angeles? Probably, considering UT was 33 shots out of first. My guess is this team is past moral victories, but it is still impressive that they fought hard in the final round even when a win was no longer likely, shooting a one-under 287 to move up three spots on the leader board.    
Next event: Southern Highlands Collegiate Invitational, Southern Highlands CC, Las Vegas, March 9-11
Auburn logo.gif2. Auburn (2)
The Tigers will be the lone school east of the Mississippi heading to the California desert this weekend. Seems like pretty good preparation for the travel that might be in store come NCAA time, don't you think?
Next event: Wyoming Desert Collegiate, Classic Club, Palm Desert, Calif., Feb. 25-26

Alabama logo.gif3. Alabama (NR)
Ok, now that was impressive. An 18-stroke win in Puerto Rico begs the question how could this be only the first win of the 2011-12 season for the Crimson Tide, but to put a twist on an old cliche, better impressively late than never. Meanwhile, Justin Thomas is doing his best to re-open the national freshman of the year race (if not player of the year) with his individual victory less than a month after his Jones Cup amateur title.
Next event: Southern Highlands Collegiate Invitational, Southern Highlands CC, Las Vegas, March 9-11

USC logo.gif4. USC (3)
Low rounds have become old hat for the Trojans. Of the six golfers to see action this season, each has posted at least one round of 68 or lower. Sam Smith leads the team in birdie conversion percentage (.360) while the squad overall has a .274 percentage.
Next event: Del Walker Match Play, Virginia CC, Long Beach, Calif., Feb. 27-28

Washington logo 2008-09.gif5. Washington (4)
If there's any one school I'm extra curious about in match play, it's the Huskies. Chris Williams and Cheng-Tsung Pan would seem to be favorites in any match they'd play, while Charlie Hughes seems like he could be pretty scrappy out there. Is that enough of a edge to give the UW a win over most opponents?    
Next event: Del Walker Match Play, Virginia CC, Long Beach, Calif., Feb. 27-28


Women

UCLA logo 2008-09.gif1. UCLA (1)
Finding new ways to illustrate the Bruins depth can be tough, but I'll try here. Lee Lopez, Tiffany Lua and Erynne Lee have combined to make 161 birdies this season, each sporting a stroke average of 72.0 or better. However departed senior Stephanie Kono remains the team's leading scorer (70.22) according to Golfstat since the minimum number of rounds played to qualify for the standings is 6. 
Next event: Bruin Wave Invitational, El Caballero CC, Tarzana, Calif., March 5-7

LSU logo.gif2. LSU (2)
Don't necessarily let the fourth-place finish at the Central District fool you. The Tigers lost by just three strokes to TCU, shooting the best score in the field on the final day at River Wilderness despite Austin Ernst shooting a 77. Moreover, Tessa Teachman's second-place showing being the best finish of her career. It wasn't a victory, but it wasn't a stumble either.
Next event: LSU Tiger Golf Classic, The University Club, Baton Rouge, La., March 9-11

Arizona 2009-10.gif3. Arizona (5)
The Wildcats' French connection of Isabelle Boineau and Manon Gidali proved intimidating again with the two sharing medalist honors in Las Vegas, helping U of A waltzed to a 19-stroke team win. Then again, so did the rest of the squad, with Margarita Ramos (fourth), Nicki Koller (T-5) and Andrea Vilarasau (T-8) all posting top-10 finishes.
Next event: Battle at Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Bernardo GC, Rancho Bernardo, Calif., March 18-20

Auburn logo.gif4. Auburn (3)
For the non-believers out there, the Tigers are seventh in the country with a 73.88 first-round stroke average and 11th in the country with a 74.48 final-round stroke average. Getting off to a good start and being able to close strong seems like characteristics of a good golf team to me.    
Next event: Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate, English Turn GC, New Orleans, Feb. 26-28

Alabama logo.gif5. Alabama (4)
If I'm as anxious to see how the Crimson Tide come out and play their spring opener next week in New Orleans, can you imagine how the team feels? Or how about Mic Potter? He knows he's got a group that can contend for an NCAA title. This is where the march to May begins.
Next event: Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate, English Turn GC, New Orleans, Feb. 26-28


STAT OF THE WEEK

11
Rounds under par posted by the Alabama men at the Puerto Rico Classic, out of 15 total played. No other team in the field at Rio Mar GC had more than six.


TWEET OF THE WEEK

Tweet of the Week 2-23-2012.jpg—UCLA senior and 2011 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links winner Brianna Do
A good day indeed. This is actually a good month for some people. #lovecollegelife


RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
I'm either really starting to like the music on Dora the Explorer or I actually am going a tad bit crazy.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. I'm not going to go so far as to guarantee that the winner of this week's North Ranch Intercollegiate is going to be named one of the GCAA Ping All-American squads come June, but there's lots of evidence to believe that will be the case. Consider that the winner of the tournament the last three years (Stanford's Steve Ziegler in 2009, Oregon's Eugene Wong in 2010, UCLA's Patrick Cantlay in 2011) all went on to become first-team AAs later in the spring.

The trend, however, doesn't just go back three years. Try 33.

Since the event's inception in 1978, the winner of the tournament has been either a first-, second- or third-teamer or an honorable mention AA that season 21 times (see below), including eight first-teamers. Of the 12 years that the champion was not an AA that season, seven of those times he went on to earn AA status at some point during their college career. In other words just five of the 33 winners of the event (a little more than 15 percent) weren't eventually All-Americans. The last time it happened: 2001.

1980, Dan Forsman, Arizona State, 3rd team
1982, Willie Wood, Oklahoma State, 1st team
1983, Ken Earle, Pacific, 2nd team
1985, Brian Watts, Oklahoma State, 2nd team
1987, Billy Mayfair, Arizona State, 1st team
1990, Ben Furth, California, 2nd team
1992, Jeff Lyons, Oregon, Honorable Mention
1993, Steve Burdick, Stanford, 3rd team
1994, Todd Demsey, Arizona State, 1st team
1996, Tiger Woods, Stanford, 1st team
1997, Jason Gore, Pepperdine, Honorable Mention
1998, Paul Casey, Arizona State, 2nd team
2002, Brock Mackenzie, Washington, 2nd team
2003, Steve Conway, UCLA, 2nd team
2004, Matthew Rosenfeld, Texas, Honorable Mention
2005, Aron Price, Georgia Southern, 1st team
2006, Anthony Kim, Oklahoma, 2nd team
2008, Tim Sluiter, USC, Honorable Mention
2009, Steve Ziegler, Stanford, 1st team
2010, Eugene Wong, Oregon, 1st team
2011, Patrick Cantlay, UCLA, 1st team


2.
Speaking of Cantlay, I'm also not going to predict that the sophomore is going to go undefeated while playing at his home course, Virginia CC in Long Beach, Calif., in the upcoming Del Walker Match Play. I do believe, though, that playing in front of a partisan crowd on a track that he is quite familiar is going to help Cantlay begin to emerge from the semi-funk that he appears to be in thus far in 2012 (T-48 finish at Amer Ari; MC at last week's Northern Trust Open at Riviera CC, his first in six PGA Tour starts).

It speaks to just how highly regarded Cantlay is that the fact he didn't play four rounds in a PGA Tour event was considered a let down. He is only 19 years old after all and is still an amateur. He deserves a little slack.
 

3. With little fanfare, at least compared to the bluster that came last August when it was first approved following NCAA president Mark Emmert's Presidential Retreat, legislation that allows for schools to offer prospective student-athletes multiyear scholarships was upheld after being put to an override vote of the entire Division I membership.

Barely.

With 330 institutions voting (a little more than 90 percent of all D-I schools), 62.12 percent  voted to override the measure. However, for the legislation, previously approved by the Board of Directors, to be scrapped, 62.5 percent of the votes had to be in favor of the override.

Emmert acknowledged afterward that while the multiyear scholarship rule still has detractors, the NCAA will continue to try address the memberships concerns.

"Now is the time for us to work together on other measures to benefit student-athletes," said Sidney McPhee, president of Middle Tennessee State and chair of the student-athlete well-being working group that proposed the multiyear grants. "As the reform effort continues, we will engage more closely with the membership on potential proposals and policy changes.


TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS
MEN
Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate
Classic Club, Palm Desert, Calif.
Feb. 25-26
Host: Wyoming
Defending champion: Texas A&M (+15/879) by five strokes over UNLV; UNLV's Kevin Penner and Santa Clara's Scott Travers (-3/213) co-medalists
Field: Arizona, Auburn, Baylor, Cal Poly, Colorado, Denver, Hawaii, Houston, Idaho, Iowa State, Kent State, Nebraska, SMU, Saint Mary's (Calif.), San Francisco, Santa Clara, Southern Utah, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UC Riverside, UNLV, UTEP, UT-San Antonio, Wyoming
Skinny: Fourth annual event has its best field ever, with the tournament being held on the same course that helped host the PGA Tour's Bob Hope Chrysler Classic from 2006-08.

John Hayt Collegiate Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Sawgrass CC, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Feb. 26-28
Host: North Florida
Defending champion: Arkansas (+3/867) by two strokes over Auburn; Florida's Phillip Choi (-7/209) by three strokes over Auburn's Blayne Barber and Arkansas' Sebastian Cappelen
Field: Arkansas, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Furman, Jacksonville, LSU, Mercer, Mississippi, North Florida, North Texas, TCU, Tennessee, Tulsa, UAB, UCF
Skinny: After standout fall, host North Florida has finished third and eighth in its first two spring starts. Perhaps nobody could use some homecoming more than the Ospreys.

North Ranch Collegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
North Ranch CC, Westlake Village, Calif.
Feb. 27-28
Host: Pepperdine
Defending champion: San Diego State (-2/850) by two strokes over UCLA; UCLA's Patrick Cantlay (-6/207) by three strokes over Arizona State's Scott Pinckney
Field: Arizona State, BYU, CSU Northridge, Charlotte, Fresno State, Loyola Marymount, Michigan, New Mexico, Pacific, Pepperdine, San Diego, San Diego State, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara
Skinny: The event had long been hosted by USC, but with the Trojans hosting the NCAA Championship this spring, Pepperdine has taken over the roll this year.

Del Walker Match Play
Virginia CC, Long Beach, Calif.
Feb. 27-28
Host: Long Beach State
Defending champion: Santa Clara (+26/1,076) by one stroke over Long Beach State; UCLA's Gregor Main (-7/203) by six strokes over Santa Clara's Rick Lamb
Field:
Skinny: After being held for XX years as a traditional stroke play tournament, the event is being held at match play ...

Charleston Shootout
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Links at Stono Ferry, Hollywood, S.C.
Feb. 27-28
Host: College of Charleston/Charleston Southern
Defending champion: Baylor (-8/856) by 14 strokes over the College of Charleston; Charleston Southern's Jacobo Pastor (-7/209) by one stroke over Campbell's Vaita Guillaume
Field: Augusta State, Charleston Southern, College of Charleston, Florida, Gardner-Webb, High Point, Longwood, Navy, Presbyterian, Radford, Stephen F. Austin State, Stetson, USC Upstate, Western Kentucky
Skinny: Augusta State joined the field this past weekend; Florida remains the heavy favorite to claim the field

WOMEN
Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
English Turn CC, New Orleans
Host: Tulane
Defending champion: USC (+4/868) by four strokes over Alabama; Alabama's Stephanie Meadow (-5/211) by one stroke over LSU's Megan McChrystal
Field: Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Colorado, Duke, East Carolina, Florida, Florida State, Kennesaw State, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas A&M, Tulane, Tulsa, USC
Skinny: Three top-five schools (Alabama, Auburn, USC) from the latest Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll are in the field, as many as any event of the spring. The nine programs from the top-25 is second most of any tournament.

Kiawah Island Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Kiawah Island (Cougar Point/Oak Point), Kiawah Island, S.C.
Feb. 26-28
Host: College of Charleston
Defending champion: Miami (Fla.) (+24/888) by nine strokes over Campbell; Campbell's Sarah Bejgrowicz (E/216) and Daytona State's Mitsuki Katahira (Bejgrowicz was playing in the championship flight)
Field: Akron, Arkansas State, Augusta State, UALR, Bucknell, Campbell, Charleston Southern, Chattanooga, The Citadel, College of Charleston, Daytona State, Elon, Georgetown, High Point, Illinois State, IUPUI, Jacksonville State, Longwood, Marshall, Mercer, Middle Tennessee State, Morehead State, Newberry, UNCG, Old Dominion, Oral Roberts, Presbyterian, Radford, Richmond, St. Johns, Western Carolina, William & Mary, Winthrop
Skinny: All schools play each course the first two days with the top 19 teams playing the Cougar course for the title in the final round.

Sir Pizza Cards Challenge
Weston Hills CC, Weston, Fla.
Feb. 27-28
Host: Louisville
Defending champion: Texas State (+38/902) by four strokes over Florida International; South Florida's Shena Yang (-4/212) in a playoff over East Tennessee State's Nine Muehl
Field: Cincinnati, Delaware, East Tennessee State, Florida International, Kansas, Louisville, Memphis, Miami (Fla.), Missouri, N.C. State, South Florida, Southern Mississippi, Texas State, UNC Wilmington
Skinny: Texas State is trying to defend a title for the second straight tournament, after winning its fourth straight Claud Jacobs Challenge last week.
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