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The Syllabus: Who's No. 1 anyway?

By Ryan Herrington

With a fifth victory in five starts after its triumph this week at the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational, California has definitively moved ... wait for it ... to the head of the class in men's college golf.

Conversely after eight weeks of competition and dozens of meaningful tournaments, there is no such clarity in the women's game. Not even close. Think of the absolutely opposite of clarity, and that's what we've got brewing.

* Alabama was the preseason No. 1 in the Golf World/WGCA coaches' poll.

* Washington and Arizona have held the top spot in the Golfweek/Sagarin polls.

* Duke jumped atop the coaches' poll last month—the next poll will be released next Wednesday. Golfstat currently has USC leading the pack.

* Personally, I've had Florida and North Carolina atop my Fab Five at times over the last few weeks. I'm likely forgetting somebody else, which just goes to show you how crazy it's been.

So many choices, so little consensus.

This coming week (in theory) could provide some help in figuring out what school has the top squad. The Landfall Tradition and the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational are being held and will host a combined 12 of the top 25 in the Golf World/WGCA poll—including seven of the top 10—in the last big weekend of action for the fall season.

More than likely, however, we're going to enter the winter break more confused about who the key figures in the 2012-13 national championship race will be than when we began the fall semester (for instance, what do we make of UCLA, the preseason No. 2 squad that didn't have a top-five finish all fall?).

Mind you, this confusion isn't necessarily a bad thing. The more teams in the mix, the more exciting the chase might actually become. If nothing else, it provides an interesting storyline as the first half of the college season comes to an end.
THE FAB FIVE
My look at the top five teams in the country right now

Cal logo.gif1. California (Last week: 1)
Much was expected out of this year's Golden Bears squad entering the fall, but 66-0-1? Seriously? This week's two-stroke win at Isleworth capped one of the most impressive fall campaigns in recent memory and leaves everyone excited to see if Steve Desimone's squad can pick it up again come spring. Too bad we all have to wait three months to find out.
Next event: Fall season complete

Georgia Tech logo.gif2. Georgia Tech (NR)
Victory at the U.S. Collegiate came by the hair of their chinny chin-chins (Ollie Schniederjans' eagle on 18 gave them a one-stroke edge on UCLA), but it was the Yellow Jackets' second win of the fall and came against a stacked field on a difficult course. Some will say Tech had an advantage because both victories (the other was a share of the title with Cal at the Ping/Golfweek Preview) came on courses in their backyard that they're familiar with. Maybe, but the team still had to perform in the clutch to claim each title.
Next event: Fall season complete
 
Alabama logo.gif3. Alabama (4)
I like the way the Crimson Tide closed out their third-place finish at Isleworth, posting the low round of the day as they tried to chase down Cal. There's room for improvement during the winter break, but there's no question that Justin Thomas and the rest of Alabama's team have a team capable of getting back to the championship match at NCAAs come June. 
Next event: Fall season complete

Texas logo.jpeg4. Texas (2)
A fourth-place showing at Isleworth means the NCAA champions still haven't finished outside the top five at a tournament since last March. Jordan Spieth's value to the squad was seen again with his own fifth- place performance. 
Next event: Cypress Invitational, Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, Calif., Oct. 29-30

Washington 2012-13.jpeg5. Washington (3)
Eventually all the traveling Chris Williams had been doing since late summer was going to catch up to him. The senior All-American's T-60 finish at the U.S. Collegiate was his worst showing of his entire college career. The good news for Husky fans was Cheng-Tsung Pan finished in the top two for his fourth straight start and Trevor Simsby had another T-5 showing.
Next event: Cypress Invitational, Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, Calif., Oct. 29-30


Women
North Carolina logo 2008-09.gif1. North Carolina (1)
The Tar Heels will no doubt be looking to see what happens around the country this next week, but they remain my leader in the clubhouse with the fall season almost complete. Even if another team pips them here at the end of the semester, there was nothing but positives out of Chapel Hill this fall, with an impressive win at the Liz Murphey Fall Preview and a confidence boosting victory at the Tar Heel Invite.  
Next event: Fall season complete

USC logo.gif2. USC (NR)
Led by medalist Kyung Kim, the Trojans' victory at the Stanford Intercollegiate last weekend shined light on a squad that quietly has had a nice fall. Playing a reduced schedule with the World Amateur Team Championship taking away Sophia Popov, USC finished third in its two prior starts. The biggest question here is whether playing with only a five-person roster could become a problem if injuries arise. The team's trainer might be its MVP come spring. 
Next event: Fall season complete

Washington 2012-13.jpeg3. Washington (4)
Golf World's mid-season awards aren't named until next month, but don't be surprised if the Huskies claim the most improved honor. With their runner-up finish at Stanford this weekend, Mary Lou Mulflur's squad wrapped up a 58-2 head-to-head record this fall, winning twice and finishing second in its other two starts.
Next event: Fall season complete

Arizona 2009-10.gif4. Arizona (2)
The Wildcats can quickly "avenge" their fourth-place showing at Stanford as they fly across country to compete at Landfall. Potentially all the travel the young team has had this fall might be catching up to them, but even if the squad "only" posts a top-five finish rather than a win like at the Mason Rudolph and Windy City events, the fall season has to be considered a huge success. #threesophomores #twofreshmen
Next event: Landfall Tradition, CC of Landfall, Wilmington, N.C., Oct. 26-28

Alabama logo.gif5. Alabama (3)
Given my earlier observations on the lack of a clear-cut No. 1 in the women's game, I think the Crimson Tide have the talent, experience and depth to be the team that emerges during the spring semester. And I wouldn't be all that surprised if they demonstrated that this coming week in Austin with a victory to close out an otherwise ho-hum fall season for the defending NCAA champions.
Next event: Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational, U. of Texas GC, Austin, Oct. 28-30



STAT OF THE WEEK
John Crooks.jpg66
Team women's titles won by Campbell under the guidance of coach John Crooks after the Camels claimed a eight-stroke victory over Old Dominion at their home event, the Fighting Camel Classic, Tuesday. The win pushed Crooks into sole possession of fourth place among women's coaches in Division I history, allowing him to pass Arizona State's Linda Vollstadt. Add in the victories his men's teams have claimed at Campbell, and Crooks (right) has 111 team titles now to his credit.

All-Time Women's Coaching Victories
Dan Brooks / 1984-present / Duke / 112
Mark Gale / 1978-96 / San Jose State / 91
Dale McNamara / 1974-2000 / Tulsa / 81
John Crooks / 1991-present / Campbell / 66
Linda Vollstedt / 1980-2001 / Arizona State / 65
 


TWEET OF THE WEEK

Tweet of the Week (Michele Drinkard) 10-26-2012.jpg—Mississippi women's coach Michele Drinkard. Let me know if you make this happen for your home event ... I'll strong arm my boss into letting me come just to see this.


RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Today's the one-year anniversary of my first and only hole in one. Considering the way I hit the ball the other day during a media outing at The Country Club in preparation for the 2013 U.S. Amateur, I have no earthly idea how I ever accomplished the feat.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Mariah Stackhouse headshot.jpeg* Stanford freshman Mariah Stackhouse posted her second top-10 finish in three starts when she had a T-9 showing at her home event, the Stanford Intercollegiate, this past weekend. The 18-year-old from Riverdale, Ga., made a birdie on the last hole of the tournament that helped push the Cardinal into solo third place as a team, matching their best finish of the fall.

Call it a solid if not spectacular first semester of her college career, but I think it's noteworthy  considering the context of what's going on in Palo Alto. With Anne Walker taking over as women's coach during the summer, the program isn't rebuilding so much re-focusing its efforts. Seniors Sally Watson and Kristina Wong are go-to players on the squad, but the development of Stackhouse, an AJGA All-American as a junior, is key for Walker in terms of returning Stanford to its regular spot in the national rankings. That she has been able to contribute early in her college career bodes well for the future.          


TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS
MEN
Price's Give 'Em Five Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Butterfield Trail GC, El Paso, Texas
Oct. 26-27
Host: UTEP
Defending champion: new event
Field: Idaho, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Northern Colorado, Oral Roberts, San Jose State, Seattle, Utah, UT Arlington, Weber State, Western New Mexico
Skinny: This is the first time the Miners have hosted a home event since February 1998 (UTEP Intercollegiate at Fort Bliss Sunrise GC).

Bridgestone Golf Collegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Grandover East Course, Greensboro, N.C.
Oct. 27-28
Host: UNC Greensboro
Defending champion: Iowa State (+6/582) by five strokes on N.C. State; N.C. State's Albin Choi (-5/139) by two strokes over Michigan's Matt Thompson
Field: Boston College, Chattanooga, Eastern Michigan, Georgia State, Iowa State, Maryland, Mississippi, Mississippi State, N.C. State, Purdue, UNC Greensboro, VCU, Virginia Tech
Skinny: ACC schools take heart. Either the team or the individual champion has come from the conference every year since 2007.

Wendy's Kiawah Island Classic
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Turtle Point GC, Kiawah Island, S.C.
Oct. 28-30
Host: Charleston Southern
Defending champion: Campbell and Kennesaw State (+17/881) co-champions; George Washington's Andres Pumariega and Campbell's Vaita Guillaume (-2/214) co-medalists
Field: Boise State, Bradley, Butler, Campbell, College of Charleston, Charleston Southern, Connecticut, Francis Marion, George Washington, High Point, Jacksonville State, Loyola (Md.), Marquette, Mount St. Mary's, Presbyterian, Radford, South Carolina, St. John's, Stetson, Towson, USC Upstate, Utah Valley, Western Kentucky, William & Mary, Winthrop, Wisconsin
Skinny: Event boasts one of the biggest field's of the fall as it is held for the third time.

Royal Oaks Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Royal Oaks GC, Dallas
Oct. 29-30
Host: Baylor
Defending champion: Texas A&M (-22/830) by one stroke over Duke; Lamar's MJ Daffue (-11/202) by three strokes over Texas A&M's Cameron Peck and Jordan Russell and Duke's Spencer Anderson
Field: Augusta State, Baylor, Iowa, Lamar, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, SMU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tulsa
Skinny: For those who believe in the hype surrounding SMU, this could be the event that serves as the team's coming out party.

SCVB Pacific Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Brookside CC, Stockton, Calif.
Oct. 29-31
Host: Pacific
Defending champion: Oregon State (+3/855) in playoff over Nevada; Nevada's Kevin Lucas (-6/207) by one stroke over Oregon State's Alex Moore
Field: BYU, Charlotte, Colorado State, CSU Northridge, Denver, Fresno State, Kansas State, Nevada, Pacific, Sacramento State, Santa Clara, UC Davis
Skinny: In the six years that the Tigers have hosted the event, they've had six different champions, including the host team in 2010

WOMEN
Landfall Tradition
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
CC of Landfall, Wilmington, N.C.
Oct. 26-28
Host: UNC WIlmington
Defending champion: Purdue (+40/909) by 14 strokes over Auburn; Purdue's Paula Reto (+2/218) by three strokes over Duke's Alejandra Cangrejo and Auburn's Victoria Trapani
Field: Arizona, Duke, Florida State, Iowa State, Michigan State, Mississippi, N.C. State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Purdue, South Carolina, Texas Tech, UNC Greensboro, UNC Wilmington, Wake Forest
Skinny: The last two times Devon Brouse has brought a Purdue women's team to CC of Landfall, he has been victorious—2010 NCAAs and 2011 Landfall Tradition

Lady Paladin Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Furman GC, Greenville, S.C.
Oct. 26-28
Host: Furman
Defending champion: USF (+69/933) by one stroke over East Tennessee State; Georgia State's Charlotte Lorentzen (+6/222) by five strokes over USF's Christina Miller
Field: Appalachian State, Chattanooga, Columbia, Furman, Jacksonville, Longwood, Mercer, Newberry, Nova Southeastern, Rutgers, Samford, Savannah Art & Design, William & Mary
Skinny: Historic tournament being held for the 41st time; past winners have included Betsy King, Nancy Lopez, Sherri Turner, Donna Andrews and Dottie Pepper.

Palmetto Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Kiawah Island Oak Point, Kiawah Island, S.C.
Oct. 28-29
Host: College of Charleston
Defending champion: UNC Greensboro (+11/875) by seven strokes over Maryland; UNC Greensboro's Fanny Cnops (-7/209) by four strokes over East Tennessee State's Gabriella Wahl
Field: Augusta State, Bucknell, Campbell, College of Charleston, Charleston Southern, The Citadel, Coastal Carolina, East Tennessee State, Elon, Georgia State, Jacksonville State, James Madison, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Richmond, USF, Xavier
Skinny: Tournament looks to be a wide open affair.

Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
U. of Texas GC, Austin, Texas
Oct. 28-30
Host: Texas
Defending champion: Texas (+16/880) by 12 strokes over Florida, Pepperdine and Tulsa; Texas' Nicole Vandermade (-2/214) by one stroke over Texas' Madison Pressel
Field: Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Denver, Florida, Illinois, Kent State, New Mexico, Pepperdine, TCU, Texas, Tulsa, UCLA, UNLV
Skinny: Longhorns will try to be only the second team to repeat as champions in the even since 1996 (Duke won in 2005 and 2006).

The Alamo Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Briggs Ranch, San Antonio
Oct. 28-30
Host: UT-San Antonio
Defending champion: UT-San Antonio (+2/866) by three strokes over Baylor; UT-San Antonio's Fabiola Arriaga (-3/213) by one stroke over Baylor's Hayley Davis, UCF's Monifa Sealy and Nebraska's Steffi Neisen
Field: Baylor, Colorado, East Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Nebraska, North Texas, Oklahoma, SMU, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas State, Tulane, UT-San Antonio
Skinny: Course recently hosted the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Championship, won for the fourth time by former Mississippi women's coach Meghan Stasi.

Rainbow Wahine Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Leilehua GC, Schofield, Hawaii
Oct. 30-31
Host: Hawaii
Defending champion: UCLA (-15/849) by 20 strokes over Washington; UCLA's Lee Lopez (-7/209) by four strokes over San Jose State's Madeleine Ziegert, UCLA's Stephanie Kono and Washignton's Sadena Parks
Field: Boise State, BYU, Eastern Michigan, Florida International, Hawaii, Memphis, New Mexico State, North Dakota State, Sacramento State, Toledo, UC Irvine, Washington State
Skinny: Watch out of the host school; Ka'ili Britos and Nichole Cruz and both coming off top-15 individual finishes at the Wyoming Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate.
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