The Local Knowlege

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The Syllabus: Listings, thy name is Palmer

By RYAN HERRINGTON

The first spring listing of the contenders for the Palmer Cup were released this week and created just the kind of buzz that the Golf Coaches Association of America was hoping for when deciding to establish the ranking in the first place.

While the race to make the American team is a strong one, with Cal's Michael Kim holding a lead over Washington's Trevor Simsby, it's the international listing that seems to hold the most intrigue for the time being.

UCLA's Pontus Widegren remains in the top spot, but TCU's Julien Brun is a hard-charging second. And the sudden polish shown from Cal's Joel Stalter (who has two straight individual wins) vaulted him to the No. 4 spot.


If nothing else, the rankings are a jumping off point in the discussion for who are some of the top players in the college ranks, a devise that gets people talking about college golf. In that sense, as cosmetic as they might be, they serve a greater purpose than merely determining who will play for the U.S. and Europe at Wilmington CC in June. They help market college golf, something that the entire sport benefits from.


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

Cal logo.gif1. California (Last week: 1)
If I'm Steve Desimone, I'm not doing a whole lot of talking right now. I'm just letting my squad play and have fun. A 27-stroke romp at the John Burns says all you need to hear about whether there would be a hangover after seeing the team's win streak end in Arizona. The Golden Bears play speaks for itself right about now.  
Next event: Fresno State Lexus Golf Classic, Belmont CC, Fresno, Calif., March 4-5
 
Alabama logo.gif2. Alabama (2)
A year ago the Crimson Tide finished a disappointed T-9 in Las Vegas after coming off a win in Puerto Rico. That memory, plus the specter of getting to play in the same event as California for the first time this spring, is all the motivation the team needs as they get ready to head to Sin City.
Next event: Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, Southern Highlands CC, Las Vegas, March 8-10

Washington 2012-13.jpeg3. Washington (3)
The Huskies are laying low until the trip to Bandon, although Cheng-Tsung Pan was competing this week in Thailand at the International Final Qualifying for the British Open. A T-23 showing wasn't good enough to get him a spot at Muirfield, but the experience can't hurt him.
Next event: Bandon Dunes Championship, Bandon Dunes Resort, Bandon, Ore., March 8-10

UCLA logo 2008-09.gif4. UCLA (4)
From the good-problem-to-have department: Derek Freeman's roster includes nine players that have a 73.1 average or lower. While Pontus Widegren and Pedro Figueiredo seem to have emerged as go to players for the Bruins, the team's versatility is something that will serve it well come the postseason.
Next event: Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, Southern Highlands CC, Las Vegas, March 8-10

New Mexico logo.gif5. New Mexico (5)
The second-place finish at the John Burns was a moral victory of sorts after the Lobos' miserable second round made beating Cal a tall task. Coming back to pass Texas A&M and BYU on the closing 18 holes should serve as an affirmation that there's some talent in Albuquerque. 
Next event: Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, Southern Highlands CC, Las Vegas, March 8-10


Women
USC logo.gif1. USC (3)
Traveling east, fending off bad weather, then beating crosstown rival UCLA in a playoff to claim the Sugar Bowl title. It's hard to do anything but praise the Trojans. While I've been slow to embrace this year's squad, they're showing no signs that they're anything but a legitimate contenders in the race for the national title.    
Next event: Bruin Wave Invitational, El Caballero CC, Tarzana, Calif., March 4-5

Alabama logo.gif2. Alabama (1)
Having predicted big things for the Crimson Tide at the Sugar Bowl, I have egg on my face with the squad's seventh-place showing. One tournament doesn't make (or break) a season, but a solid showing here would have given the team lots of momentum for the remainder of the spring. Now it's a little bit back to the drawing board for Mic Potter.
Next event: Darius Rucker Intercollegiate, Long Cove Club, Hilton Head Island, S.C, March 8-10

UCLA logo 2008-09.gif3. UCLA (NR)
Having finished not better than eighth in four fall starts, UCLA now has a first (Northrup Grumman) and a second (playoff loss at the Sugar Bowl) in two spring tournaments. I think it's hardly a coincidence that Tiffany Lua is back in the lineup, providing the confident leader that the team needed to succeed.
Next event: Bruin Wave Invitational, El Caballero CC, Tarzana, Calif., March 4-5

Florida logo.gif4. Florida (2)
The elements didn't help the Gators in New Orleans, as wild weather shortened the tournament and in part explains how for the first time this season Florida didn't have a player finish in the top eight individually en route to a T-10 finish. No doubt staying close to home for their next start should help the team get past its Sugar Bowl disappointment.        
Next event: SunTrust Gator Invitational, Mark Bostick GC at U. of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., March 15-17

Duke logo.gif5. Duke (5)
The Blue Devils are just always hanging around, finishing third at the Sugar Bowl this past week for their fifth top-four finish in six starts in 2012-13. Have a fair amount of down time before Bryan National to sharp games and see if they can break through with a W before the postseason.
Next event: Bryan National Collegiate, Bryan Park GC (Champions), Greensboro, N.C., March 29-31



STAT OF THE WEEK
Steve Desimone head shot.jpeg24
Percent of California men's coach Steve Desimone's career wins earned in the last two seasons after his squad claimed the team title at the John Burns Intercollegiate. It was the 50th team title earned in Desimone's 34-year career, but in the last two seasons Cal has claimed 12 of those 50 titles.

"If you do this long enough and have some success you're going to win some but 50 is quite a number and I'm very pleased," Desimone said about his personal milestone. "A lot of great players have come through the program who have certainly contributed to that in every respect. It's a very special moment."

 

TWEET OF THE WEEK
Tweet of the Week Popov 3-1-2013.jpg
—USC junior Sophia Popov reveals some of the things teams do to kill time during weather delays, this one coming during the practice round at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate. Weather caused the tournament to be shortened to 36 holes, but not before Popov made a birdie putt in a playoff to give the Trojans the team title over UCLA.



RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
I'll consider it a successful weekend if I make it through the next three days without being a victim of the Bear Trap.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR
* At the risk of being guilty of hyperbole, I can't remember in my decade now covering the women's college beat following a team like this year's UCLA squad. Recall that the Bruins were ranked preseason No. 2, then played the entire fall season without finishing any better than eighth place in four starts. Come the spring, however, the Bruins have regained life, winning the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge and then losing in a playoff last week to USC at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate.

So which team are we to believe will be showing up come the postseason? I'd be hard pressed not to think the spring Bruins are the real deal and that their fall performance was the mirage. There is too much depth on the roster not to think that the team would eventually find its stride. Sophomore Erynne Lee and fifth-year senior Lee Lopez are among the college game's best and brightest, and have showed it at times during the season. But with the return of senior Tiffany Lua to the lineup—after a wrist injury forced her to miss the fall season— there is a stability that can't be overlooked. Lua is the leader that Lee and Lopez, at least at this point, can't be. With Lua around to keep her teammates in check, Lee and Lopez can go out and post low scores and be an impressive presence in the lineup.

Lua Tweet with team.jpgI enjoyed this Tweet from Lua the other day. It was after the Bruins had lost the playoff in New Orleans, then flown home to L.A., only to be left stranded at the airport when the ride apparently didn't show. The photo Lua included is a funny goof with her and her teammates looking disappointed at their plight. Rest assured, the group is only fawning frustration. Bottom line: UCLA is back playing the way most people expected them to play at the start of the season, including themselves.

  


TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS
MEN
USF Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Lake Jovita G&CC, Dade City, Fla.
March 3-5
Host: USF
Defending champion: UCF (-10/854) by six strokes over Georgia; Arkansas State's Chris Pledger and Louisville's Justin Dorward (-5/211) co-medalists
Field: Cincinnati, DePaul, Eastern Michigan, Florida State, Kennesaw State, Kentucky, Louisville, Marquette, Mercer, Middle Tennessee State, N.C. State, Rice, South Carolina, Troy, USF, Virginia, Wisconsin
Skinny: Can N.C. State's Albin Choi's win his fourth individual title of the year? If so, his name deserves to be in the discussions of potential player of the year awards.

Louisiana Classics
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Oakbourne CC, Lafayette, La.
March 4-5
Host: Louisiana Lafayette
Defending champion: LSU (-17/847) by 14 strokes over SMU and Tulsa; LSU's Andrew Presley (-10/206) by three strokes over LSU's Sang Yi
Field: Houston, Illinois, Kansas, Kent State, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana Lafayette, LSU, Memphis, South Alabama, Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, Texas State, Tulsa, UT San Antonio
Skinny: The 28-year-old event will be broadcast live on RaginCajuns.com with coverage from the ninth and 18th holes.

Fresno State Lexus Golf Classic
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Belmont CC, Fresno, Calif.
March 4-5
Host: Fresno State
Defending champion: Oregon State (+7/1,087) by six strokes over Washington State; San Diego's Alex Ching (-7/209) by four strokes over Pacific's Alex Edfort
Field: Arizona, BYU, Cal Poly, California, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Kansas State, Nevada, Northwestern, Oregon, Oregon State, Pacific, Sacramento State, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Utah
Skinny: The tournament is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Past winners have included Tom Watson (Stanford, 1969), Craig Stadler (USC, 1973 & 1974), Bobby Clampett (BYU, 1979 & 1980), Phil Mickelson (Arizona State, 1989) and Nick Watney (Fresno State, 2001 & 2002).


WOMEN
Kiawah Island Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Kiawah Island (Cougar Point and Oak Point), Kiawah Island, S.C.
March 3-5
Host: Charleston
Defending champion: Augusta State (+13/877) by 22 strokes over UNC Greensboro; UNC Greensboro's Fanny Cnops (-2/214) by one stroke over Augusta State's Christine Duschek-Hansen
Field: Bucknell, Central Arkansas, College of Charleston, Elon, Fairleigh Dickinson, Florida Gulf Coast, High Point, IUPUI, Jacksonville State, Longwood, Marshall, North Florida, Presbyterian, Radford, Richmond, Samford, St. John's, Stephen F. Austin State, Tennessee Tech, Towson, Troy, UNC Greensboro, Western Kentucky
Skinny: The event continues to be one of the "biggest" events over the year, literally. All teams both courses for 36 holes. Top teams then move on to play for the team title while the medalist can come from all of the schools in the field.

Bruin Wave Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
El Caballero CC, Tarzana, Calif.
March 4-5
Host: Pepperdine/UCLA
Defending champion: Pepperdine (+39/903) by two strokes over UCLA; San Diego State's Christine Wong (+3/219) by four strokes over Pepperdine's Alina Ching
Field: Arizona, BYU, Denver, Hawaii, Long Beach State, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Pepperdine, San Diego State, UCLA, UNLV, USC, Washington State
Skinny: Pepperdine's Grace Na is looking for yet another top-20 finish. The junior has played 22 career college events and had 18 top-20 finishes to date.

Juli Inkster Spartan Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Almaden CC, San Jose, Calif.
March 4-5
Host: San Jose State
Defending champion: California (+15/879) by 13 strokes over Oregon; California's Joanne Lee (-2/214) by one stroke over California's Daniela Holmqvist
Field: California, Colorado State, Fresno State, Idaho, Kansas State, N.C. State, Oregon, San Francisco, San Jose State, Santa Clara, Stanford, UC Davis, UC Irvine, Washington
Skinny: California is the four-time defending champion, having won in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 (2009 tourney was rained out).