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The Syllabus: Welcome back

By Ryan Herrington

The top five signs that the fall college golf season has arrived:

5.) Multiple Tweets from players showing the day they received all their team clothing for the year, complete with pictures and the hashtag #ChristmasComesEarly

4.)
Phone calls from coaches asking why their players weren't in Golf World's top 50 players to watch lists start coming into the Wilton office.

3.) Golfstat's live scoring shows the next 18 tournaments are all sponsored by Golfweek.

2.) Reports from coaches about the results of their 13 round qualifiers for the opening tournament.

And 1.) The fall's first Syllabus is FINALLY posted on the Campus Insider blog.

(Come on, indulge my ego briefly here and nod your head in agreement.)

With that, turn the page and lets see what's up in the world of college golf.
FAB FIVE
My look at the top five teams in the country right now

MEN
Logo Alabama.gif1. Alabama
Besides the fact that the Crimson Tide is rather good (as evidenced with their 18-stroke win at Olympia Fields to start the fall) there are no distractions in Tuscaloosa to start the season. The decision over who will turn pro early is over, with Justin Thomas having moved on but Cory Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt excited about their senior years. Oh, and they've got a couple nice freshmen on board, with Robby Shelton sharing medalist honors in his first college start and Gavin Moynihan settling in.
Next event: Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate, Old Overton GC, Vestavia Hills, Ala., Oct. 7-8


Logo Georgia Tech.gif2. Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets gained loads of confidence with their run into last year's NCAA Championship semifinal round, but because they were stopped shy of a title appear to also be pretty hungry. The early result in 2013-14—wins at the Carpet Capital and Tar Heel Intercollegiate—suggest this might be the best group Bruce Heppler has had since the Matt Kuchar-Bryce Molder-Troy Matteson era.
Next event: Brickyard Collegiate, The Brickyard at Riverside, Macon, Ga., Oct. 4-6


Logo California.gif3. California
At the risk of forgetting just how many tournaments the Golden Bears have won the last four seasons (23), there are some who wonder if the golden ride ended last spring. A 30-stroke win at the St. Mary's Invitational earlier this week suggests otherwise. And if there's a group that can rally around the cry of "unfinished business" it's the boys from Berkley.
Next event: Jack Nicklaus Invitational, The Scarlet Course at Ohio State, Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 29-30


Logo Washington.gif4. Washington
Few coaches create as dynamic an environment for their players to improve as Matt Thurmond. It will be important he continues it this fall as he looks to try to replace the production of graduating senior Chris Williams. A home victory at the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational was a nice way to get things rolling, but road tests later this fall will be a better measure for how things are developing.
Next event: U.S. Collegiate Championship, GC of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga., Oct. 18-20


Logo Texas.gif5. Texas
The Longhorns are a young squad banking on potential with high profile freshmen Beau Hossler and Gavin Hall finally beginning their college careers. The experience of senior Toni Hakula (a former Big 12 player of the year) will be critical in bringing along the youngsters and keeping the success John Fields' squads have had the past few seasons.
Next event: Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate, Old Overton GC, Vestavia Hills, Ala., Oct. 7-8



WOMEN
Logo USC.gif1. USC
The defending NCAA champs got the 2013-14 season off on a impressive note when they rallied to take the title at the Dale McNamara Fall Preview. Baseball scouts like to talk about "high ceiling" players. With seven players capable of winning All-American honors, this is as high ceiling at golf team as I've ever seen.
Next event: Windy City Collegiate Classic, Northmoor CC, Highland Park, Ill., Sept. 30-Oct. 1


Logo UCLA.gif2. UCLA
The Bruins could not play another event this semester and they already would have improved upon their performance to start the 2012-13 season. A victory at the Mason Rudolph puts the four eight-place finishes from last fall and hints that the you might not have to leave Los Angeles to watch the race for the national title.
Next event: Betsy Rawls Invitational, U. of Texas GC, Austin, Texas, Oct. 13-15


Logo Oklahoma.gif3. Oklahoma
The Sooners have been built for this season, with seniors Chirapat Jao-Javanil, Anne-Catherine Tanguay, Emily Collins and Kaitlyn Rohrback set to use all the experience gained in winning four events the past 14 starts. A runner-up finish at the Fall Preview is a nice start to what could be a record-breaking year in Norman.
Next event: The Schooner Fall Classic at Belmar, Belmar GC, Norman, Okla., Oct. 5-7


Logo Arkansas.gif4. Arkansas
A rain-shortened win at the Mercedes-Benz last weekend offers a early hint about this squad and its potential to be a pesky bunch in 2013-14. Hard to believe Emily Tubert is already a senior. I think she's going to soak up her final year and be real force, helping the Lady Razorbacks contend regularly.
Next event: Ruth's Chris Tar Heel Invitational, UNC Finley Course, Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 11-13


Logo Alabama.gif5. Alabama
There's plenty of talent in Tuscaloosa—with 2012 British Women's Amateur champion Stephanie Meadow and 2013 U.S. Women's Amateur champion Emma Talley on the roster—but the start of the 2013-14 has been slow thus far with a T-4 finish at the Fall Preview and an eighth-place showing at the Mason Rudolph. There's plenty of time for the Crimson Tide to find its way, but they best not take too long doing it.
Next event: Ruth's Chris Tar Heel Invitational, UNC Finley Course, Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 11-13


STAT OF THE WEEK
Haack, chris.jpg50
Number of tournament titles the Georgia men have won under coach Chris Haack.

The big 5-0 came last weekend during the stroke play portion of the Dick's Sporting Goods Collegiate Challenge Cup, when the Bulldogs outpaced SEC rival Texas A&M by five strokes with a 20-under 832 showing at GC of Tennessee. Haack is starting his 18th season at Georgia and has had his team win at least one title in 15 of the 18 seasons.

"I am extremely humbled to reach a milestone like this," Haack said. "It means a lot to bring this recognition to Georgia. I can't help but think about all the fantastic players we've had through the years who helped get us to this point. I've also been blessed to have great assistants in Jim Douglas, Ryan Hybl and Jason Payne, who did such a tremendous job with recruiting and coaching. I know my name gets written down with this, but this is truly a team effort. It's something that I share with all of them."



TWEET OF THE WEEK
Top Tweet 9-26 (Hossler).jpg
—Texas freshman Beau Hossler.
Beautiful building indeed, but we hear you Beau ... tough major to tackle.

RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Played golf a week ago Tuesday. Hit it mediocre and shot mediocre score. Played golf yesterday. Hit it very solid and shot ... same mediocre score. This game is pretty frustrating. How do you all play/coach it competitively and not want to break something?


WHAT TO WATCH FOR
McPherson, Kevin.jpeg* I don't envy the folks at Georgia Regents University Augusta (the school formerly known as Augusta State) as they begin the search for a replacement for their men's golf coach after Tuesday's resignation of Kevin McPherson. (Good story here by Augusta Chronicle writer Chris Day.) The task of finding somebody to oversee a program nearly a month into the school year is challenging to say the least. In Day's story, you can read that McPherson himself understood the difficult position he left his former employer when he announced he was leaving to take the men's coaching job at Coastal Carolina, but the unusual situation at that school forced the South Carolina native (right) to make the move at this awkward moment.

The amazing thing to me in all this is how quickly the fate of the program in Augusta has changed. It was just two seasons ago that the Jaguars had become the first program in more than 25 years to win back-to-back NCAA titles. Their story was among the most compelling that I've ever followed since covering the college beat: the little school that could. But then suddenly they couldn't any more. Josh Gregory takes the job at his alma mater, Patrick Reed, Henrik Norlander, Carter Newman, Mitch Krywulycz and Olle Bengtsson depart for the pro ranks. Suddenly GRU Augusta is little again.

It's sad, but it puts into perspective just how amazing Gregory's run was with the Jaguars really was.

GRU Augusta athletic director Clint Bryant said in a press release Tuesday that McPherson "leaves our program in good shape." I'm not exactly sure what you say in a situation like the one Bryant was facing, but I'm not sure this quote is what I might have rolled out. The team narrowly qualified for the NCAA postseason in 2012 and failed to qualify last spring, hardly what you'd come to expect from a team that had won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2010 and 2011.

That's what makes the search challenging. It's a program where you obviously can win on a high level, but it's going to take the right person. And the number of people who qualify as the right person right now is small.

 
* The GCAA/WGCA announced Tuesday another speaker who will attend their respective annual conventions in December: Golf Channel's Mike McCarley. The network's president is slated to discuss how the Golf Channel's partnership with the NCAA, signed last December, will take shape with the promise of additionally coverage/exposure for college golf starting next spring.

Suffice it to say, part of McCarley's presentation will certainly spell out why the network favors the NCAA Championship format that the men will be following in 2014 and that the women are contemplating for 2015—to the chagrin of some coaches. The format calls for three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) of stroke-play competition to determine the eight schools that advance to match play for the team title. Golf Channel then begins televising on the fourth day of the championship (Monday) when another round of stroke play would be contest by players in contention for medalist honors that would solely count to determine the individual champion. Day 5 (Tuesday) would be the first and second rounds of match play and Day 6 (Wednesday) would be the championship round.

Some coaches have criticized the extra round of stroke play for the individual title primarily because it condenses the match-play schedule, which they believe harms the team competition. You can bet, however, McCarley will make the argument that having the stroke-play event finish on the first day in which Golf Channel broadcasts from the championship will allow for more than two dozen other programs to have players shown on the network compared simply to the eight schools that will be playing in the first round of match play, helping maximize exposure and increase the overall profile of the sport. I'm curious to see how many converts he'll be able to win over.


* For this week's issue of Golf World, I wrote a column about the impressive start by the Clemson women's golf team. Playing in its inaugural season, the Tigers have two runner-up finishes in two starts and have already jumped to No. 11 in the Golf World/WGCA D-I coaches' poll. As I said in my magazine piece I hope fans won't take what coach J.T. Horton and his team are doing and use it as an indictment for the quality of play in women's college golf.

Meanwhile, I'm very curious to see what happens next for this squad, which will play against the strongest field it has yet to face at the Ruth's Chris Tar Heel Invitational. Horton told me how he set up his schedule to be able to build the team's confidence at times while also testing them against the nation's best to measure their progress. This will be the event we see just how "for real" the Tigers are.


TOURNAMENTS TO WATCH
MEN
William H. Tucker Intercollegiate
U. of New Mexico Championship Course, Albuquerque
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Sept. 27-28
Host: New Mexico

Jack Nicklaus Invitational
The Scarlet Course at Ohio State, Columbus, Ohio
Sept. 29-30
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Host: Ohio State

Graeme McDowell Shoal Creek Invitational
Shoal Creek CC, Birmingham, Ala.
Sept. 30-Oct. 1
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Host: UAB


WOMEN
Windy City Collegiate Championship
Northmoor CC, Highland Park, Ill.
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Sept. 30-Oct. 1
Host: Northwestern

UNCG Starmount Fall Classic
Starmount Forest GC, Greensboro, N.C.
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Sept. 30-Oct. 1
Host: UNC Greensboro

Old Waverly Bulldog Invitational
Old Waverly GC, West Point, Miss.
Sept. 30-Oct. 2
Host: Mississippi State

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