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The Syllabus: Fading fall

By Ryan Herrington

Where the heck did the fall season run off to?

Maybe it's just me, but I felt like the 2013-14 campaign kicked off only a few days ago. The reality of the calendar, however, says otherwise as there there are only a handful of tournaments remaining before the winter break hits.

Indeed, by next Tuesday when the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational wraps up, there will be just four Division I women's tournaments left where there is more than one school in the top 25 of the Golf World/WGCA coaches' poll competing (Landfall Tradition, Stanford Intercollegiate, Alamo Invitational and the Pac-12 Preview).

Similarly on the men's side, come next Tuesday there will also be just four events with multiple ranked schools from the latest Golf World/Nike Golf D-I coaches' poll: U.S. Collegiate, Isleworth, Gifford, Royal Oak.

Long story short—blink at your own risk. The fall might be over when you open your eyes. 
FAB FIVE
My look at the top five teams in the country right now

MEN
Logo Alabama.gif1. Alabama (Last week: 2)
Same old same old for the Crimson Tide, which claimed the Jerry Pate National Invitational title earlier this week for the sixth time in the last eight years. However, for the first time since 2006—and just the second time in history—they have won their first two starts of the season (with a average margin of victory of 17 strokes).   
Next event: Isleworth Collegiate Invitational, Isleworth CC, Windermere, Fla., Oct. 20-22

Logo California.gif2. California (1)
A peak into where the Golden Bears excel comes from a look at some statistics—the squad's 70.8 percent greens in regulation average ranks No. 3 among D-I schools tracked by Golfstat. Interestingly, though, the team's 31.21 putting average is outside the top 50. Imagine their record if they were putting a little better.
Next event: Alister MacKenzie Invitational, Sonoma GC, Sonoma, Calif., Oct. 14-15

Logo Georgia Tech.gif3. Georgia Tech (3)
The Yellow Jackets win streak ends at two, but a runner-up finish at the Brickyard Collegiate is hard to frown at. Seth Reeves claimed his second individual title of the fall with a share of medalist honors as the redshirt senior is emerging as an interesting golfer to watch. 
Next event: U.S. Collegiate Championship, GC of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga., Oct. 18-20

Logo New Mexico.gif4. New Mexico (NR)
Maybe it was on their home course in their home event, but the final-round seven-under 281 from the Lobos at the Tucker Intercollegiate (when the scoring average on the day was 304.4) that turned around a 11-stroke deficit into a 18-stroke victory counts as one of the more impressive in recent memory. 
Next event: Isleworth Collegiate Invitational, Isleworth CC, Windermere, Fla., Oct. 20-22

Logo Stanford.gif5. Stanford (NR)
Four Cardinal golfers finished in the top 10 at Erin Hills—led by medalist Patrick Rodgers—pushing the team to an eight-stroke victory over Pac-12 rival UCLA. Rodgers' sixth career win leaves him trailing only Tiger Woods (11) and Joel Kribel (seven) in school history. 
Next event: U.S. Collegiate Championship, GC of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga., Oct. 18-20



WOMEN
Logo USC.gif1. USC (1)
The Trojans got their first loss of 2013-14, albeit an unofficial one. Mind you getting beaten by the USC men's team in an intrasquad Ryder Cup-style competition at Wilshire CC Oct. 3 might actually be motivational in the grand scheme of things.  
Next event: Stanford Intercollegiate, Stanford GC, Stanford, Calif., Oct. 25-27

Logo UCLA.gif2. UCLA (2)
Not surprisingly the Bruins will travel the same lineup to the Betsy Rawls (Erynne Lee, Alison Lee, Louise Ridderstorm, Bronte Law, Ani Gulugian) that won coach Carrie Forsyth her 50th career title at the Mason Rudolph last month. Also wouldn't be a surprise if they won her tournament No. 51 in Texas.
Next event: Betsy Rawls Invitational, U. of Texas GC, Austin, Texas, Oct. 13-15

Logo Oklahoma State.gif3. Oklahoma State (NR)
As if winning her first tournament as head coach for the Cowgirls at this week's Schooner Classic wasn't sweet enough for Courtney Jones, there was probably something a little extra enjoyable about the fact the event was hosted by rival Oklahoma. Most satisfying of all, however, was that the victory came without arguably their best player in the lineup, Julie Yang missing the event to play in LPGA Q school. Speaks to OSU's depth in 2013-14.
Next event: Landfall Tradition, CC of Landfall, Wilmington, N.C., Oct. 25-27

Logo Oklahoma.gif4. Oklahoma (3)
The Sooners are good enough where they don't need moral victories, but the runner-up finish at the Schooner Classic could still serves as one. Sitting in 12th place after Round 1, OU stormed back to come in second. Now it will be interesting to see how they handle the quick turnaround playing in Chapel Hill this weekend.
Next event: Ruth's Chris Tar Heel Invitational, UNC Finley Course, Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 11-13

Logo Arkansas.gif5. Arkansas (5)
The Lady Razorbacks carry the second-best team stroke average (72.04) in the women's game as they head to North Carolina for this weekend's event. I could be wrong, of course, but I just have a sneaking suspicion they're going to perform well in Chapel Hill and make the rest of the SEC (if not the country) take notice.
Next event: Ruth's Chris Tar Heel Invitational, UNC Finley Course, Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 11-13



STAT OF THE WEEK
Na, Grace photo.jpeg7
Number of times Grace Na has earned player of the month honors in the West Coast Conference. The senior won the award again in September after claiming medalist honors at the Golfweek Conference Challenge, her fifth career tournament title.

I wrote last week about how Na has a chance to finish up as arguably the best player in Pepperdine history and there are some numbers that are going to start backing me up. After the team's 10th-place finish at the Schooner Classic this week (in which Na was ), she  holds the No. 1 spot in school history in career average (73.17) and is No. 2 in career wins (5) and sub-par rounds (29).

 

TWEET OF THE WEEK
Whitten top tweet (450).jpg
—Michigan men's coach Chris Whitten
The Wolverines' head man showed off his Ansel Adams side with this pretty picture from the Erin Hills Invitational, where his squad finished eighth.


RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
You know you're talking about the best golf shot you've ever hit in your life when you not only can still see it in your mind but also feel it in your hands.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Gerrick Erin Hills course record.jpg* It was nice to see the UCLA men's squad in action—finally—at last week's Erin Hills Invitational. I emphasize the finally part with tongue fully in cheek; the Bruins frequently start their fall schedule late (and end it late as well) to better align it with its academic calendar that starts school well into September.

But in all seriously, I was  anxious to see how the Bruins would fare in their season opener: a second-place finish that included sophomore Jonathan Gerrick setting the Erin Hills' competitive course record with a 65 in the final round (photo credit: UCLA Athletics). I'm equally curious about what they might do in their remaining two starts—next week's U.S. Collegiate Championship and the Gifford Collegiate in November.

With the exception of Anton Arboleda, the Bruins are a young group that is as much a mystery team in my mind as any in the men's game. Coach Derek Freeman's squad came off a disappointing showing at last year's NCAA Championship (26th place, well out of match play) and it competes in a conference that's arguably the deepest of any in the country. While ranked No. 6 in the Golf World/Nike Golf preseason coaches' poll, UCLA hadn't gotten to prove it was worthy of the high ranking the same way that Alabama, California and Georgia Tech have to this point in the season.

A runner-up showing on a tough track like Erin Hills suggests that Freeman's group might be more ready for prime time than their ages and experience might suggest. Yet no team has more to play for than this one between now and the end of the fall season.


* When the U.S. Collegiate Championship is played Oct. 18-20, there will be a new carrot dangling in front of players trying to claim the individual title. This year's medalist will also receive an exemption into Wichita's Air Capital Classic on the Web.com Tour (June 2014).



TOURNAMENTS TO WATCH
MEN
Bank of Tennessee at Blackthorn
Blackthorn Club, Jonesborough, Tenn.
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Oct. 11-13
Host: East Tennessee State
Defending champion: Missouri (-7/857) by one stroke over Tennessee; Memphis' Grant Milner (-10/206) by two strokes over Wake Forest's Evan Beck

Rod Myers Invitational
Duke University GC, Durham, N.C.
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Oct. 12-13
Host: Duke
Defending champion: Duke (-12/852) by 12 strokes over North Carolina; North Carolina's Clark Palmer and Duke's Julian Suri (-7/209)

Crooked Stick Intercollegiate
Crooked Stick GC, Carmel, Ind.
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Oct. 14-15
Host: Indiana
Defending champion: New event

AutoTrader.com Collegiate Classic
Berkeley Hills GC, Duluth, Ga.
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Oct. 14-15
Host: Georgia State
Defending champion: Georgia Southern (+7/859) by seven strokes over Georgia State; South Carolina's Dykes Harbin (-3/210) by two strokes over Winthrop's Kamito Hirai, Georgia Southern's Scott Wolfes, Chattanooga's Steven Fox

Bill Ross Intercollegiate
Millburn CC, Overland Park, Kan.
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Oct. 14-15
Host: UM-Kansas City
Defending champion: UM-Kansas City (+6/870) by two strokes over North Dakota State; Arkansas State's Easton Key (-6/210) by three strokes over North Dakota State's Nathan Anderson

Alister MacKenzie Invitational
Sedona CC, Sedona, Calif.
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Oct. 14-15
Host: California
Defending champion: California (-46/806) by 20 strokes over San Francisco; California's Brandon Hagy (-15/198) by three strokes over San Francisco's Taylor Travis

WOMEN
Ruth's Chris Tar Heel Invitational
Finley GC, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Oct. 11-13
Host: North Carolina
Defending champion: North Carolina (+8/872) by 13 strokes over Baylor and Mississippi; Florida's Isabelle Lendl (-6/210) by three strokes over Baylor's Hayley Davis

Wyoming Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate
Classic Club, Palm Desert, Calif.
Oct. 12-13
Host: Wyoming
Defending champion: Fresno State (+21/885) by 13 strokes over College of Charleston; Charleston's Kathy Boehm (E/216) by one stroke over Fresno State's Madchen Ly

Diane Thomason Invitational
Finkbine GC, Iowa City, Iowa
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Oct. 12-13
Host: Iowa
Defending champion: New event

Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational
U. of Texas GC, Austin, Texas
Oct. 13-15
Host: Texas
Defending champion: Florida (-1/863) in a scorecard tiebreaker over Alabama; Florida's Camilla Hedberg (-8/208) in a playoff over Alabama's Jennifer Kirby
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