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The Syllabus: Settling in

One of the best things about college golf is that the top programs in the country go head-to-head against each other as much as any sport. Case in point: the Ping/Golfweek Preview, which begins Saturday at the Capital City Club, site of next spring's NCAA Championship. Fourteen of the 15 teams in the field are ranked in the top 25 Golf World/Nike Golf men's preseason coaches' poll, including seven of the top eight teams (only No. 6 Auburn is missing).

What makes this event even more compelling is the fact that nearly all the programs are at full strength. The top player that might not be 100 percent for the coming event is Washington senior Chris Williams, who has been diagnosed with mono. I contacted UW coach Matt Thurmond to ask if Williams might skip the Preview since he is suppose to be going to Turkey next week to compete for the U.S. in the World Amateur Team Championship. Thurmond said that Williams is going to make the trip to Georgia, noting "Can't convince him otherwise."

With Williams in the field, five of the top 10 players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking—Alabama's Justin Thomas and Bobby Wyatt, Texas' Jordan Spieth and Washington's Cheng-Tsung Pan—will be facing off at the Crabapple Course.

Given the quality of the field, I think one of the big names steps up this week and wins the individual title. I like Spieth's chances as he looked sharp in his first start at the Carpet Capital, which was played not far from Capital City Club. If there is a dark horse that pulls out the win, I suspect it will be one of the local guys from Georgia (T.J. Mitchell perhaps) or Georgia Tech (how about Ollie Schniederjans).

Team wise, given the impressive starts by No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Texas and No. 3 California, I figure one of the three—if not all—will be in contention. My educated guess is that the Crimson Tide ultimately come out on top, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Only UNLV in 1997 has won the Preview title and gone on to claim the NCAA crown.






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

Texas logo.jpeg1. Texas (Last week: 1)
Listening to Brandon Stone on the Longhorn Network this past week makes you believe the transition from South Africa to Austin is going as well off the course as was on the course at the Carpet Capital. He'll be testing putting his lucky South Africa shoes to a tougher test, however, when the team plays next week at the Preview.  
Next event: Ping/Golfweek Preview, Capital City Club, Atlanta, Sept. 23-25

Cal logo.gif2. California (2)
The depth in the Bears lineup makes cracking the starting lineup a challenge in and of itself. Same five heading to Georgia that won the season opener in Minnesota—Brandon Hagy, Max Homa, Walter Huddy, Michael Kim and Michael Weaver—means two starters at last year's NCAA Final Four squad (Joel Stalter and Pace Johnson) must wait another tournament to make fall debuts.   
Next event: Ping/Golfweek Preview, Capital City Club, Atlanta, Sept. 23-25

Washington 2012-13.jpeg3. Washington (5)
A true team win at home to start the fall, with the Huskies taking the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational title by nine strokes over Texas A&M. Most interesting part was despite claiming Cheng-Tsung Pan earning medalist honors, his final-round score (76) didn't count for UW as Trevor Simsby, Charlie Hughes and Jonathan Sanders were the three low scores for the Huskies over the final 18.
Next event: Ping/Golfweek Preview, Capital City Club, Atlanta, Sept. 23-25

Alabama logo.gif4. Alabama (3)
There were some who thought that if there were any players looking  to give PGA Tour Q school a shot in this final year of existence they might come from Tuscaloosa, a testament to the top young talent on Jay Seawell's roster. Yet coach says making next year's U.S. Walker Cup team is a goal for several of his top players. Music to captain Jim Holtgrieve's ears (and Seawell's).
Next event: Ping/Golfweek Preview, Capital City Club, Atlanta, Sept. 23-25

Florida logo.gif5. Florida (4)
Still shaking my Campus Insider head at the scores from the final round of the Invitational at the Ocean Course. The Gators shot team 305 with crazy winds, nine strokes better than the average team score. Hope come spring time when evaluating individual stroke averages for All-American candidates T.J. Vogel (77) and Tyler McCumber (78), it will be taken into account. Don't want to see good players be penalized for playing a tough course on a brutal day.
Next event: Olympia Fields/Illini Invitational, Olympia Fields CC, Olympia Fields, Ill., Sept. 30-Oct. 2

 

Women
Florida logo.gif1. Florida (1)
Backed up opening victory at the Cougar Classic with a nice second-place showing at the Dale McNamara. Even better was the fact senior Isabelle Lendl built off her strong showing in her fall debut by claiming medalist honors in Tulsa by three strokes. Got to like where this is trending right now.
Next event: Lady Tar Heel Invitational, UNC Finley GC, Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 12-14

UCLA logo 2008-09.gif2. UCLA (2)
After hosting their annual fundraiser on Monday (by the way, the baseball cards of the players are way cool), my guess is this group is anxious to get the season started in Colorado. There still has to be a bit of collective frustration for the Bruins after their performance at nationals last May.   
Fall opener: Golfweek Conference Challenge, Red Sky GC, Vail, Colo., Sept. 24-26

Alabama logo.gif3. Alabama (3)
With Stephanie Meadow and Jennifer Kirby are off to Turkey for next week's Women's World Amateur Team Championship, the Crimson Tide has a few weeks to relax and regroup. Says here we're going to see a much sharper team in Athens in a few weeks.      
Next event: Liz Murphey NCAA Fall Preview, U. of Georgia GC, Athens, Ga., Oct. 5-7

Duke logo.gif4. Duke (4)
The coaching chops of Dan Brooks are impressive, which is why I'm particularly anxious to see what happens with this squad as the season unfolds. I don't think we'll get a real idea of how good the Blue Devils are until the spring, but I get the sense that this group is willing to buy into his "process" mindset.
Next event: Liz Murphey NCAA Fall Preview, U. of Georgia GC, Athens, Ga., Oct. 5-7

Arizona State logo 2012-13.jpeg5. Arizona State (NR)
A young Sun Devils squad gave coach Melissa Luellen a neat gift to open the season with its three-stroke victory at the Dale McNamara Invitational, the tournament that honors Luellen's mom, the legendary Tulsa coach. Most impressed with the fact en route to her second-place showing individually, junior Daniela Ordonez became first ASU golfer to post three sub-par rounds in a tournament since Carlota Ciganda did it in May 2009.
Next event: Stanford Intercollegiate, Stanford GC, Palo Alto, Calif., Oct. 19-21



STAT OF THE WEEK
4
Number of players on the Texas State women's team who will be competing in the Women's World Amateur Team Championship next week in Turkey, the most of any Division I program in the country. Mara and Krista Puiste (the resent winner at the Mary Fossum Intercollegiate) will represent Latvia, Valdis Jonsdottir will play for Iceland and Iman Nordin for Malaysia.



TWEET OF THE WEEK
Tweet of the week 9-20-2012 (mcGraw).jpg
—Oklahoma State men's coach—and noted Hogan fanatic—Mike McGraw


REPLY OF THE WEEK (TO A TWEET OF THE WEEK)
TOW part 2 9-20-2012 (Uihlein).jpg—former Oklahoma State All-American (and McGraw recruit) Peter Uihlein


RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Need to send not just a congratulations note but a thank you as well to my sister-in-law on the birth of her new daughter, Sophia Maria. She was conveniently born on the same date as another one of my nieces, Morgan Isla, making it much easier for a sometimes confused uncle to remember birthdays.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Casey martin action.jpg* It was a fun story, seeing Oregon men's coach Casey Martin playing again on the Web.com Tour last week after playing in the U.S. Open this summer, finishing T-55 at the Albertsons Boise Open. Afterward, he joined his squad at the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational to kick off their fall schedule. Unfortunately, the showing at Gold Mountain GC in Bremerton, Wash., wasn't quite as satisfying as his in Boise. The Ducks finished T-6, 37 strokes behind eventual champion Washington. It's just one event, but the performance from a lineup with two freshmen and two sophomores hints at a larger issue: the departures of seniors Eugene Wong, Daniel Miernicki and Andrew Vijarro mean the 2012-13 Ducks are a young bunch that might take its lumps. Sophomore Rak Cho and senior Robbie Ziegler are the only returning players with at least 10 college starts to his credit. Sophomore Jonathan Woo played for the Ducks in the post-season last spring, showing promise. But all in all my guess is that Martin's feel-good moments might have been all used up earlier this year.


Brooke Pancake.jpeg* Brooke Pancake, who helped lead Alabama to the NCAA women's title last spring in her final college appearance, is hoping to become the first golfer to win the NCAA Woman of the Year award. The award honors female student-athletes who have distinguished themselves in academic achievement, athletic excellence, community service and leadership. The three-time All-American, who earned a degree in marketing and finished with a 4.0 GPA, was one of nine finalists named earlier this week. The winner will be announced Oct. 12.


* The direct effect might never be felt in golf, but for those at all interested in the NCAA and its autonomy in intercollegiate athletics, but it might be time to start paying closer attention to the three-year-old anti-trust suit filed by former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon (among others) against the NCAA, EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company over the use of college players likenesses. Correspondences and depositions between the NCAA and EA Sports were unsealed this week and contradicted their previous contention that the NCAA unequivocally believed it had the authority to sell athletes' publicity rights without compensation.

That college student-athletes give up all rights to their names and likenesses seems pretty preposterous, which is why the case has move this far through the court system. Should O'Bannon win the case, it opens up the potential for thousands of former college players to seek financial restitution for the previous use of their images. Since EA Sports hasn't created a college golf video game, past college golfers wouldn't likely be able to recoup any unseen earnings, but they probably would benefit from changes in NCAA regulations that would be forced if O'Bannon were to win.

   


TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS
MEN
Mason Rudolph Championship

   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Vanderbilt Legends Club (South course), Franklin, Tenn.
Sept. 21-23
Host: Vanderbilt
Defending champion: Middle Tennessee State (-8/844) by one stroke over Mississippi; Middle Tennessee State's Hunter Green (-8/205) by two strokes over Davidson's John Skeadas
Field: Arkansas State, Charleston, Davidson, East Tennessee State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Middle Tennessee State, No. 25 Oklahoma, Rice, South Alabama, Tennessee Tech, Vanderbilt, No. 22 Virginia
Skinny: Middle Tennessee State is trying to become just the second school to repeat as champions in the 11-year history of the event (Mississippi, 2006 & 2007)

D.A. Weibring Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Weibring GC at Illinois State
Sept. 22-23
Host: Illinois State
Defending champion: Illinois (E/852) by 23 strokes over Akron; Illinois' Luke Guthrie (-10/203) by four strokes over Illinois' Thomas Pieters
Field:
Skinny: Illinois has claimed the title four of the last five years and would appear to be the heavy favorite again this time around.

Windon Memorial
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Skokie CC, Glencoe, Ill.
Sept. 23-24
Host: Northwestern
Defending champion: Arkansas (+7/847) by four strokes over Indiana and UCLA; Michigan's Matt Thompson (-5/205) by two strokes over Northwestern's Eric Chun
Field: Coastal Carolina, Eastern Michigan, DePaul, Florida Atlantic, Harvard, Indiana, Lamar, Marquette, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Tennessee, Toledo, UC Davis
Skinny: As impressive as the group of past winners (Casey Martin, Luke Donald, Hunter Mahan) is the list of former runners-up (Joe Ogilvie, Tiger Woods, Ben Curtis, Gary Woodland, Scott Langley).

Ping/Golfweek Preview
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Capital City Club (Crabapple), Alpharetta, Ga.
Sept. 23-25
Field: No. 1 Alabama, No. 8 Arkansas, No. 3 California, Chattanooga, No. 16 Florida State, No. 19 Georgia, No. 7 Georgia Tech, No. 18 Kent State, No. 23 New Mexico, No. 17 San Diego State, No. 2 Texas, No. 10 Texas A&M, No. 4 UCLA, No. 13 UNLV, No. 5 Washington
Skinny: Fall tournament at the site of next spring's NCAA Championship returns after a one-year hiatus. … All eight programs that reached match play at last year's national championship are in the field. … UCLA is the lone school in the 15-team field opening its fall schedule. … This is the first time in 23 playings of the Preview that Oklahoma State is not in the field.

Graeme McDowell Shoal Creek Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Shoal Creek CC, Birmingham, Ala.
Sept. 24-25
Host: UAB
Field: Dartmouth, Houston, Kennesaw State, LSU, Memphis, No. 15 North Florida, North Texas, Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, Tulsa, UAB
Skinny: Another former tournament gets new life as UAB revives the event that had previously been held from 2005-08.

Cardinal Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
The Cardinal Club, Simpsonville, Ky.
Sept. 24-25
Host: Louisville
Defending champion: UALR (-3/573) by eight strokes over Northern Illinois; UALR's Nicklaus Benton (-7/137) by two strokes over UALR's Alfred Kerstis
Field: Austin Peay State, Bowling Green State, Cincinnati, Dayton, Francis Marion, Furman, Georgetown, Louisville, Marshall, Morehead State, Murray State, Northern Kentucky, UALR, Western Kentucky
Skinny: Last time Louisville won its home event was Fall 2008.

VCU Shootout
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Hermitage CC, Manakin-Sabot, Va.
Sept. 24-25
Host: VCU
Defending champion: Virginia (-27/837) by seven strokes over East Carolina; Iowa State's Scott Fernandez (-11/205) by one stroke over East Carolina's Adam Stephenson
Field: East Carolina, George Mason, Iowa State, James Madison, Maryland, Richmond, UNC Greensboro, Old Dominion, Virginia Tech, Wichita State
Skinny: Tournament has been played at Hermitage CC five of the seven times it has been held.

Mark Simpson Colorado Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Colorado National GC, Boulder, Colo.
Sept. 24-25
Host: Colorado
Defending champion: Colorado (-24/840) by five strokes over New Mexico; San Diego's Alex Ching and Colorado's Beau Schoolcraft shared medalist honors (-11/205)
Field: Air Force, Colorado, Colorado State, Denver, Gonzaga, Houston Baptist, Kansas, Missouri-Kansas City, Northern Colorado, Oregon State, Texas-Arlington, Texas State, Utah, Wyoming
Skinny: In conjunction with the college event, the Colorado GA Collegiate High School Championship will be played with nine of the state's top prep golfers competing alongside the collegians to give them a taste of college golf.

Saint Mary's Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Bayonet & Blackhorse GC, Seaside, Calif.
Sept. 24-25
Host: Saint Mary's (Calif.)
Defending champion: Oregon (-11/853) by 13 strokes over UAB; CSU-Northridge's Chris Russo (-9/207) by two strokes over Oregon's Rak Cho
Field: Cal Poly, CSU Northridge, Florida Gulf Coast, Fresno State, Kansas State, Kentucky, Loyola Marymount, No. 14 Oregon, Sacramento State, Samford, San Francisco, Santa Clara, UC Irvine, Western Carolina
Skinny: Oregon looks to become the first school to defend the team title in the event's seven-year history.

WOMEN
Mason Rudolph Championship
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Vanderbilt Legends Club (North course), Franklin, Tenn.
Sept. 21-23
Host: Vanderbilt
Defending champion: UCLA (+9/873) by six strokes over Alabama; Duke's Lindy Duncan (-4/212) in a playoff over Alabama's Jennifer Kirby
Field: No. 14 Arizona, Chattanooga, No. 11 Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan State, Memphis, No. 6 North Carolina, Oregon, Stanford, Texas, No. 15 Texas A&M, Tulane, No. 8 Vanderbilt, No. 12 Virginia, Wake Forest
Skinny: Despite the travel from the West Coast, Pac-12 teams have won the team title four of the last five years (UCLA, 2007, 2008, 2011; USC, 2009)

Wolverine Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
U. of Michigan GC, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Sept. 22-23
Host: Michigan
Defending champion (2010): Florida International (+44/896) by 11 strokes over Iowa State; Florida International's Paula Hurtado (+9/222) by two strokes over Florida International's Cristina Marin
Field: Akron, Bucknell, Butler, Delaware, Eastern Michigan, Ferris State, Florida International, Georgetown, Grand Valley State, Illinois, Michigan, North Texas, Toledo, Xavier
Skinny: Only once since 1985 has a Michigan golfer been medalist at any tournament (Wolverine Invite, Lady Northern or Big Ten Championship) held on the U. of Michigan GC—Ashley Bauer in 2008.

WSU Cougar Cup
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Palouse Ridge GC, Pullman, Wash.
Sept. 24-25
Host: Washington State
Defending champion: Washington (+26/890) by 12 strokes over Stanford; Stanford's Sally Watson (+4/220) by one stroke over Idaho's Kayla Mortellaro, Washington's SooBin Kim and Washington State's Kristen Rue
Field: BYU, California, CSU-Fullerton, Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, Idaho, Montana, Montana State, Nevada, Portland State, Sacramento State, Santa Clara, UC Irvine, Washington State
Skinny: Since tourney's inception in 2008, Cougars have won in every even-numbered year. Well it's 2012, guess we know who is going to come out on top.

Golfweek Conference Challenge
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Red Sky GC, Vail, Colo.
Sept. 24-26
Defending champion: Oklahoma (+35/899) by five strokes over UC Davis; Oklahoma's Chirapat Jao-Javanil (+1/217) by three strokes over Pepperdine's Grace Na, Tulsa's Kristina Merkle and Mississippi's Natalie Gleadall
Field: Campbell, Denver, East Tennessee State, Florida State, Furman, Georgia State, Mississippi, Missouri State, Nebraska, No. 19 Oklahoma, No. 24 Pepperdine, San Diego State, San Jose State, Texas-San Antonio, Tulsa, UC Davis, No. 2 UCLA, USF
Skinny: Tourney had a nice selling point for interested schools last year as individual winner went on to claim NCAA title. Could it happen a second straight year? Bruins fans are sure hoping so.

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