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The Syllabus: Remember us?

By Ryan Herrington

This is the eighth time I've written The Syllabus this fall, but it is the first time I've mentioned the name of one particular men's program, which is pretty amazing when you think about it.

I'm talking about Oklahoma State.

You remember them, don't you? Won a few national titles back in the day. Played in the NCAA Championship every year since, roughly speaking, dinosaurs roamed the Earth until last spring, when the unimaginable happened and the squad failed to get out of NCAA regionals (after barely having a .500 record to qualify for the postseason at all).

The proud Cowboys program entered the 2012-13 season unranked—a sentence I never thought I'd type—but that changed when they claimed the No. 17 spot in the Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll this past week. The appearance was thanks, in large part, to a runner-up finish at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational earlier in October.

After voting closed for the latest poll, Mike McGraw's squad proceeded to show even more signs of life. With a closing round one-under 283, OSU passed second-round leader Texas Tech to claim the title at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate, shooting a 10-under 842 to outpace the Red Raiders and New Mexico by four strokes. Leading the way was Ian Davis, a junior who shared medalist honors with Iowa's Ian Vandersee after shooting seven-under 206s. The team win was the first for McGraw's squad since the 2011 NCAA regional in Colorado and Davis was the first individual since Kevin Tway at that tournament as well.

By no means do I think the Cowboys are going to be a legitimate contender for the NCAA title this coming spring; they simply haven't suggested they have a lineup capable of that kind of achievement just yet. But a run at the Big 12 title isn't out of the question.

And that would be a good thing.

Indeed, please take this next paragraph in the right context. I'm not some OSU homer here. I am a believer, however, that men's college golf is better off having Oklahoma State be relevant. It's that way in any college sport where a dominant program finds itself hurting during lean years; the sport loses a little of its luster when its marquee names are struggling. Call it the rising-tide-carries-all-boats theory. OSU is a program with too much history not to be in the conversation nationally when it comes to golf.

For the folks in Stillwater, thankfully it looks like they're part of that conversation once again.
THE FAB FIVE
My look at the top five teams in the country right now

Cal logo.gif1. California (Last week: 1)
Given how impressive the Golden Bears were this fall, you almost thought they would magically have won a sixth tournament this week even without being entered in one. Alas, their winter break has begun, although knowing the guys on the roster, you get the impression that they'd prefer to start the spring semester next week rather than actually take the time off.
Next event: Fall season complete
 
Alabama logo.gif2. Alabama (3)
I like the depth that this roster has and the motivation from losing in the NCAA finals last June that I believe they'll use as fuel themselves throughout the spring. Perhaps the Crimson Tide could have played more impressively this fall, but the end goal is an NCAA title in June, not necessarily a perfect fall record. There is no reason why that end goal can't be accomplished.
Next event: Fall season complete

Georgia Tech logo.gif3. Georgia Tech (2)
Two tournament titles and lots of confidence are what the Yellow Jackets carry with them into the winter break—as well as the knowledge that they are the only squad that hung with Cal in a event this fall. No bad considering the highest ranked Georgia Tech player in the Golfstat Cup standing is Ollie Schniederjans sitting at No. 83.
Next event: Fall season complete

Texas logo.jpeg4. Texas (4)
The defending NCAA champions end the fall with a respectable finish at Cypress Point. But now the fun begins as Longhorn fans watch and wait to see how sophomore Jordan Spieth does at the second stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School later this month and learn whether the All-American played in his last college event earlier this week. 
Next event: Fall season complete

Washington 2012-13.jpeg5. Washington (5)
The winter break comes at a nice time for a few of the Huskies, a long 2012 calendar year having begun to slow down a few on the roster (including top dawg Chris Williams). Coach Matt Thurmond does a nice job during the intermission of sharpening his players' weaknesses and getting them ready for the spring. Suffice it to say, the Pac-12 won't be a one-team race.
Next event: Fall season complete


Women
North Carolina logo 2008-09.gifT-1. North Carolina (1)
Two late and impressive fall wins in my mind help offset a slower start for the Tar Heels compared to the other marquee programs in the country. It's why I think they deserve a share of the top ranking this week. But as you can see from the other entries below, I can't figure out if any team is really any better than another so I'm lumping everyone together for the time being.  
Next event: Fall season complete

Alabama logo.gifT-1. Alabama (5)
As I mentioned last week, I thought the Crimson Tide would end the fall in solid fashion at the Betsy Rawls. Claiming a share of the title with Florida, with Jennifer Kirby just missing out on medalist honors, puts the defending NCAA champions into a nice frame of mind as the fall comes to a conclusion.
Next event: Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational, U. of Texas GC, Austin, Oct. 28-30

USC logo.gifT-1. USC (2)
Young team with a capable one-two combo at the top of the lineup (Sophia Popov and Doris Chen) and a freshman (Kyung Kim) emerging as a potential No. 1 starter. There are lots of narratives out of Los Angeles that you've got to like as the Trojans mull what might be come the second half of the 2012-13 season 
Next event: Fall season complete

Washington 2012-13.jpegT-1. Washington (3)
Sophomore standout SooBin Kim gets most of the attention on the Huskies squad, but freshman Charlotte Thomas hasn't gotten much attention considering the solid first semester the native of England has had—one win, three top-10 finishes and a 72.25 average.
Next event: Fall season complete

Florida logo.gifT-1 Florida (NR)
A share of the Betsy Rawls title made for book-end victories this fall, a scenario that few could have predicted in August. Even better for Gator fans is the fact that the battle between Camilla Hedberg (medalist at the Cougar Classic and Betsy Rawls) and Isabelle Lendl (medalist at the Dale McNamara and Lady Tar Heel) to see who is the team's top player might also determine the top player in the entire country.   
Next event: Fall season complete



STAT OF THE WEEK
Kramer Hickok.jpeg63
Score posted by Texas' Kramer Hickok at Cypress Point Club during a practice round prior to the Stanford Classic. In the process, the sophomore from Plano, Texas, (right) tied the course record also held by former Cypress pro Jim Langley, current pro Casey Reamer, PGA Tour pro Adam Scott ... oh and Ben Hogan. According to a report in the Monterey Herald Hickok made one bogey on his nine-under round and shot a 29 on the back nine with birdies on the 10th, 12th, 13th and 18th holes and an eagle on the 11th.

 

TWEET OF THE WEEK
Tweet of the Week 11-1-2012 (Tyler Gann).jpg
—Wichita State senior Tyler Gann shows that he and his Shocker friends are more than just single-sport athletes. Good luck at the 2016 Olympics (although don't quit the day job).


RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Not to sound like a spoiled brat, but really how did people survive without heat and running water, let alone electricity?


RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK, Part II
Natural disasters happen all around the U.S. You watch them on the news and you feel badly for the folks affected. When you have something hit closer to home, as was the case for me with Hurricane Sandy this week, it feels more heartbreaking. If you have the means to contribute to any relief efforts, there are many people hurting here who would be much appreciated.

Matt Kitto.jpgRANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK, Part II
I might need to add a new department to The Syllabus for kindness after reading about Puget Sound junior Matt Kitto (right) and how he came to the rescue of George Fox's head coach Matt Beck at a recent tournament. Take a few minutes to open this link and read about Kitto's unselfish act that just might have saved Beck's life.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR
* Many of the sites for the 2014 and 2015 NCAA golf postseason were revealed yesterday, including the host courses for the 2014 D-I men's and women's championships. Tulsa CC was awarded the women's event, but what got many people excited was seeing Prairie Dunes CC in Hutchinson, Kans., will be getting the men's event. Talk to anyone who has played Prairie Dunes and they'll quickly tell you that the Perry Maxwell masterpiece is in the middle of nowhere but that it's the best trip to the middle of nowhere that you'll ever take. 

By having the championship at such a standout course—it was ranked 25th on Golf Digest's America's 100 greatest golf course list—it continues an important pattern of holding the national championship at exceptional courses. There was something special about having NCAAs this past year at Riviera CC, likely because it's a familiar course that hosts a PGA Tour event but also because it's a fantastic test of golf. The players and coaches were all impressed with having their biggest event staged at a place of that caliber. A similar vibe was felt at Inverness Club in 2009, Caves Valley in 2005 and several others in the last decade. The same will be the case when the championship goes to Prairie Dunes.

There was a concern from some that changing the format of the NCAA Championship to include match play might mean that some of the higher profile courses that have talked about hosting the tournament wouldn't be as interested. Thankfully, that doesn't seem to be the case. The best way for college golf to try to increase its profile is to take its championships to the best venues they possible can.


* The Golf Coaches Association of America announced its Hall of Fame class of 2012 earlier this week. The honorees include: J. Perry Cole of LSU, John Fields of Texas, Georgia’s Chris Haack, Jerry Hrnciar of Cameron, Harry Mussatto of Western Illinois and Barry Rodenhaver, coach at Odessa and SMU. Additionally, Clyde Luther, longtime rules official overseeing the NCAA Championship will join the six others in being honored for his contributions to college golf. They will be formally inducted during the GCAA's annual convention in Las Vegas next month.


TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS
MEN
The Hummingbird Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
CC of Sapphire Valley, Sapphire, N.C.
Nov. 3-4
Host: Western Carolina
Defending champion: Appalachian State (-3/565) by two strokes over UAB; Gardner-Webb's Kristopher Gray (-7/135) by two strokes over UAB's Paul Dunne
Field: Appalachian State, Army, Belmont, Colgate, Elon, Francis Marion, Gardner-Webb, Guilford, High Point, IPFW, Samford, Western Carolina, Wofford
Skinny: Event is only scheduled for 36 holes. This is the sixth straight year (and seventh time overall) the tournament is being held at Sapphire Valley.

Warrior Wave Invitational
St. Regis-Makai GC, Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii
Nov. 5-7
Host: Pepperdine/Hawaii
Field: Baylor, CSU-Fullerton, East Tennessee State, Fresno State, Georgia Southern, Hawaii, Indiana, N.C. State, Pepperdine, San Diego, San Diego State, UAB, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Xavier
Skinny: Pepperdine coach John Geiberger announced he was stepping down as head coach after 16 seasons earlier this week. Assistant Carl Smith will coach team during this final tournament of the fall. Geiberger will continue in an administrative role through the end of the tournament.

Gifford Collegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
CordeValle GC, San Martin, Calif.
Nov. 5-7
Host: UCLA
Defending champion: USC (-8/1,057) by four strokes over UCLA; USC's Steve Lim (-11/202) by one stroke over UCLA's Patrick Cantlay
Field: Coastal Carolina, Lamar, Northwestern, Oregon State, SMU, San Jose Sate, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Tennessee
Skinny: Format is play 6/count 5 scores. … In past seven years, just three schools have been victorious in the event: UCLA, USC and Stanford
 
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