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What's next for the Furman men's golf team?

By Ryan Herrington

Furman logo.jpgIt's hard to question the character of the members of the Furman men's golf team given the way they've handled themselves the last 72 hours. Friday afternoon coach Todd Satterfield broke the news to his team that the university's Board of Trustees had voted to discontinue the program after this season. Shortly afterward, Furman athletic director Gary Clark also spoke to the squad to try to explain the decision, which the school says was made to address a need to reallocate resources (read: save money).

As feelings of anger and disbelief surfaced over what the long-term future might hold, the group made the most impressive of short-term decisions. Saturday and Sunday the Paladins were supposed to be holding a qualifier at Furman GC for their upcoming opening spring tournament, and they would not change their plans even in the wake of such disappointing news.

"It was their choice," said Satterfield, among college golf's most respected voices. "They've been remarkably resilient."

I spoke with Satterfield Sunday as he was driving to Furman GC. He said he knew the university faced significant financial issues—an estimated $6.4 million deficit for the 2014-15 academic year according to one report—but said he learned of the possibility of shutting down the golf program only a day before the Feb. 7 vote was taken by the school's Board of Trustees.

The men's golf team was the only one of 18 varsity men's and women's sports programs at the school that was affected. In a release, the school said the decision to cut the men's golf team was based on "an extensive evaluation of criteria, including public visibility, attendance, competitiveness and overall cost."

The Paladins have won 13 Southern Conference titles since 1970, most recently in 2010, but had qualified for NCAA Regionals only four times and had not reached the NCAA Championships since 1986. The men's team currently is 122nd in the Golfstat team ranking. Sadly, Furman has struggled on the course of late.

Still, within college golf circles news of the team's disbanding was greeted with shock. Alumnus Brad Faxon, an All-American at Furman in the 1980s, was among those who publicly expressed his disappointment with the move, as did former Lady Paladin Dottie Pepper.

Related: Alumnus Brad Faxon laments about end of Furman golf team

The frustration from some about the decision stemmed not only for golf's long tradition at the school—a men's team first played there in 1930 and the women's team was one of the dominant national programs in the 1970s and early 1980s—but also that the school recently added men's and women's lacrosse teams, both of which are believed to require larger monetary resources from the school than the golf program.

Todd Satterfield.jpgThe question now is whether there is any recourse that can be taken to appeal the decision. Other schools that have announced they would cut their golf programs had changed their mind when the team or its boosters managed to raise money to support the team. The most notable example: Minnesota in 2002, when boosters rallied to save the team as the squad responded by winning the NCAA title.

Satterfield (left) says he doesn't know if this is a possibility or not. Regardless, he said he was committed to making this next semester the best possible experience for him and his team.

"We've always done things a class way," Satterfield said. "We're going to continue to do it a class way."
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News & Tours

Five questions with Cal men's golf coach Steve Desimone

He has coached the California men's golf team for 34 seasons, but Steve Desimone has never had one like this year's: 11 wins in 13 tournaments. Before taking his team to next week's NCAA Championships, the Golden Bear alum fielded five questions from Ryan Herrington.

california-golf-coach-steve-desimone.jpg
Golden Bear: Desimone has coached the Cal team for 34 years. Photo: J.D. Cuban.

Q: Golf isn't big at most colleges. Have you cracked Cal's mainstream?
It's amazing how many places I've gone where I would not think people were tuned in, but they are. My doctor recently said, “Great season coach. Run that table.” It's been overwhelming, gratifying and, in some respects, surprising.

Q: How have the players handled being mentioned as among the best college teams ever?
We haven't dwelled on it. We've been on a mission since losing to Alabama in the NCAA semifinals last year. [Winning the NCAAs] is the goal. These guys are tough. They know what it's like to play with pressure.

Q: Any postseason equipment changes?
The manufacturers take good care of us [with access to the latest clubs and fittings], but there has been very little tweaking. These guys are smart enough not to mess with a good thing. If anybody did, the others would have them in our doghouse so fast.

Q: With the potential for history at the NCAAs, has your apparel company asked you to do anything different?
Cal is a Nike school. They sent us three or four new shirts, which is great. Titleist has sent us gloves, balls, shoes. Ping gave us some new bags. Nothing crazy.

Q: How are sales of Cal golf merchandise going these days?
Sadly, the place in Berkeley that sold that kind of stuff went under a few years ago. Everyone loves a winner, so my guess is there would be a lot of people who would love to put their hands on some stuff. Maybe that's something we can work on.


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News & Tours

And your 2011 NCAA men's champion is ...

STILLWATER, Okla.—By any measure—wins, stroke average, eye test, rock/paper/scissors, etc.—the best team during the 2010-11 season in men's college golf has been Oklahoma State. Add that with the fact that this week's NCAA Championship is being held on the team's home course, Karsten Creek GC, and there's no doubt who the favorite is to claim the national title.

The question, of course, is whether the Cowboys will fulfill their destiny and hold the trophy come Sunday.

With crowds that are likely to number in the thousands, there will be all sorts of local support behind OSU's bid for its 11th NCAA crown. At the same time, this just might increase the pressure that Mike McGraw's crew—Peter Uihlein, Morgan Hoffmann, Kevin Tway, Sean Einhaus and Talor Gooch—is likely to face this week. There is no other outcome that will please the folks in orange and black. And there is no other outcome that they anticipate happening.
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News & Tours

And your 2011 NCAA women's champion is ...

BRYAN, TEXAS—What does it say about women's college golf that the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 champions, and the arguably the most dominant team in the game for nearly 15 years, all failed to qualify for this week's NCAA Women's Championship?

A lot, frankly, and I don't mean this in a bad way.

As has been the case for a while now, the overall depth in the women's game continues to grow, and with that the gap between the haves and have nots is being bridged. With Purdue's victory a year ago, the first time a northern school claimed the national championship,  ... Read
News & Tours

NCAA Men's D-I regional selections released

Oklahoma State, UCLA, Florida, Alabama, Georgia Tech and Texas A&M, the top six schools in the most recent Golf World/Nike Golf coaches’ poll, earned top seeds when the NCAA men’s golf committee announced the 81 teams and 45 individuals to play in the six regional tournaments May 19-21. The top five teams from each regional and low individual not on those teams, advance to the 114th NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek GC in Stillwater, Okla., May 31-June 5.

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News & Tours

Abilene Christian's Bouniol Wins Nelson Award

Neither the oldest nor the best known of college golf's prestigious honors, the Byron Nelson Award may be the one moms and dads would most like to see their boy win because it celebrates the graduating senior who has best honored the hall of famer's name by excelling on the course, in the classroom and in the community.
    
ACU-Cyril-Bouniol-2.jpgThis year those beaming parents hail from the tiny southwestern French village of Laloubere, about 10 miles from Lourdes and an hour from the Spanish border. On May 3 the Golf Coaches Association of America announced that Catherine and Jean-Paul Bouniol's oldest son, Cyril, as the 11th winner of the award sponsored by Cleveland Golf.

Bouniol, the reigning Division II individual champion and a leader on Mike Campbell's fifth-ranked Abilene Christian Wildcats, has a 3.43 GPA in business management and a rare appreciation for the many ways Byron Nelson enriched people's lives long after his competitive days ended. ... Read
News & Tours

Golf World/NGCA Women's Coaches' Polls

Here is the latest women's coaches polls, which appear in the Feb. 22 issue of Golf World.

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Compiled by Ryan Herrington
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News & Tours

This week's syllabus: March 13-19

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

MEN
Georgia_logo_200809 1. Georgia
(Last week's syllabus: 1)
The Bulldogs were already riding a three-tournament win streak heading into Las Vegas, but gained even more momentum with a 5-0 sweep of Texas Tech in a one-day match-play event back in Athens earlier this week.
Next event: Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship, Southern Highlands GC, Las Vegas, March 13-15

Stanford_logo_200809 2. Stanford (2)
While no Cardinal player has a stroke average lower than 72.5, five golfers (Steve Ziegler, Sihwan Kim, David Chung, Joseph Bramlett and Jordan Cox) have carded top-10 finishes.
Next event: Callaway Match Play Championship, The Farms GC, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., March 22-24

Oklahomastatelogolatest 3. Oklahoma State (3)
The Cowboys continue to rotate players in the No. 5 spot in the line-up. This week in Las Vegas, redshirt freshman Bernhard Neumann gets the nod. Meanwhile, two-time AJGA player of the year Peter Uihlein has still played just one tournament for OSU so far in his freshman season.
Next event: Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship, Southern Highlands GC, Las Vegas, March 13-15

Usc_200809_logo 4. USC (4)
If all goes well, Las Vegas should be the last event that Jamie Lovemark will miss with his broken finger. Freshman Steve Lim, who's playing well back at home, takes his spot at Southern Highlands.
Next event: Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship, Southern Highlands GC, Las Vegas, March 13-15

Clemson_200809_logo 5. Clemson (NR)
The Tigers had competed in UNLV's tournament for 19 straight years before missing the 2008 event. Their best finish? Third place in 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2004. Same line-up that finished second at Puerto RIco travels to Nevada.
Next event: Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship, Southern Highlands GC, Las Vegas, March 13-15


WOMEN
Ucla_logo_200809 1. UCLA
(1)
Every week it's a new Bruin that shines. At the UCF Challenge, it was freshman Stephanie Kono, who shot a final-round 66 to lift UCLA past ASU as well as claim medalist honors.
Next event: Ping/ASU Invitational, Karsten Course at ASU, Tempe, Ariz., April 3-5

Arizona_state_logo_200809 2. Arizona State (2)
A T-10 finish from Azahara Munoz in her return to action at the UCF Challenge bodes well for the Sun Devils in the long run. Best thing for ASU fans? Munoz thinks she should have done better.
Next event: Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational, University of Texas GC, Austin, Texas, March 19-21

Usc_200809_logo_2 3. USC (3)
After shooting a course-record 65 at Red Tail GC, junior Belen Mozo only could muster a 74 in the final round of the UCF Challenge. Still, after struggled with her putting throughout the spring, the Spaniard's confidence is rising.
Next event: Ping/ASU Invitational, Karsten Course at ASU, Tempe, Ariz., April 3-5

Oklahomastatelogolatest_2 4. Oklahoma State (NR)
In just their second start under new coach Annie Young, the Cowgirls hung tough while in the final group with UCLA and Arizona State at the UCF Challenge, eventually finishing in third place. That's five top-fives in six starts for OSU. 
Next event: Liz Murphey Collegiate, University of Georgia GC, Athens, Ga., March 27-29

Wake_forest_logo_200809_from_school 5. Wake Forest (4)
A month after opening their spring season with a runner-up finish at the Northrup Grumman, the Demon Deacons anxiously return to action this weekend in Louisiana. Coach Dianne Dailey says the strong showing in California only made the players work harder in practice.
Next event: LSU Golf Classic, University Club, Baton Rouge, La., March 13-15


STAT OF THE WEEK
7

The number of hours it reportedly took for some players to finish their rounds at the Ron Smith/USF Invitational last weekend at Lake Jovita. I kind of chuckle sometimes at how often my counterparts at Golfweek bang the drum about the problems of slow play in college golf, but the news out of Dade City, Fla., was so ridiculous that it's time they get somebody else to join their cause. Enough is enough fellas (and ladies too) ... it's time to pick up the pace.      


WHAT TO WATCH FOR

* Conspicuous by her absence at the UCF Challenge was UCLA senior Tiffany Joh, who despite being ranked 24th in the country by Golfstat failed to qualify for the Bruins' starting five that traveled to Red Tail GC outside Orlando and beat Arizona State by seven strokes for their fifth win of the season. "She's been fighting [her swing] a little bit," said Bruin coach Carrie Forsyth. Needless to say, those aren't the words you want to hear about your go-to senior captain.

Joh will miss UCLA's next tournament, the Ping/ASU Invitational, since she'll be playing at the Kraft Nabisco Championship that weekend. I'd be shocked, however, if you don't see her wearing Bruin Blue at the Pac-10 Championship in April and the rest of the postseason. Joh's got too much experience--and too much talent--not to be in the starting line-up during crunch time. I'd be similarly shocked if she didn't find her way up near the top of the leader board in each of the events that will close out her impressive career.



TOURNAMENTS ON TAP

MEN
Southern Highlands Collegiate

   (For live scoring, link here to Golfstat)
Southern Highlands GC, Las Vegas (Par 72, 7,510 yards)
March 13-15
Host: UNLV
Field: Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, California, Charlotte, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, UNLV, USC
Defending champion: UNLV (five-over 869) by two strokes over Charlotte; USC's Rory Hie (three-under 213) in a playoff with Georgia's Hudson Swafford and Charlotte's Jonas Enander Hedin
Skinny: The tournament continues its tradition of having a standout field, including six of the top-10 teams in the latest Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll and 11 of the top 25.

Border Olympics
Laredo CC, Laredo, Texas (Par 72, 7,241 yards)
March 14-15
Host: Houston
Field: Arkansas, UALR, Baylor, Houston, Houston Baptist, Lamar, Louisville, New Mexico State, New Orleans, North Texas, Notre Dame, Rice, UT-Arlington, Texas State, Vanderbilt, Washington State
Defending champion: Arkansas (three-over 867) by five strokes over Lamar; Baylor's Colton Williams (nine-under 207) by seven strokes over Arkansas' Andrew Landry and UTEP's Roger Sloan
Skinny: If you like the hot hand, consider taking the Vanderbilt Commodores, who eeked out a one-stroke win at the Seminole Intercollegiate when Golf World Player of the Week Ryan Haselden made an eagle on the final hole.

Pinehurst Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, link here to Golfstat)
Pinehurst Resort (No. 8), Pinehurst, N.C.
March 15-17
Host: East Carolina
Field: Ball State, Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, Marquette, Marhshall, Miami (OH), Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, UNC Greensboro, UNC Wilmington, Old Dominion, Penn State, Radford, Southern Mississippi, Toledo, VCU, Virginia Tech, Western Illinois, Wichita State
Defending champion: Indiana (one-over 865) by 24 strokes over Eastern Kentucky; Indiana's Seth Brandon (even-par 216) by one stroke over three others
Skinny: The folks in the Carolina sand hills can only hope that bad weather won't canceled this men's tournament like it did the women's Pinehurst event two weeks ago.

Barona Collegiate Cup
Barona Creek GC, Lakeside, Calif.
March 16-17
Host: San Diego State
Defending champion: Texas A&M (37-under 837) by 20 strokes over San Diego State; Texas A&M's Ignacio Elvira (12-under 204) by three strokes over Texas A&M's Andrea Pavan and San Diego State's David Palm

WOMEN
LSU Golf Classic

   (For live scoring, link here to Golfstat)
University Club, Baton Rouge, La.
March 13-15
Host: LSU
Field: Arkansas, College of Charleston, Colorado, Furman, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, North Carolina, N.C. State, UNC Wilmington, Notre Dame, South Carolina, TCU, Tulane, Virginia, Wake Forest
Defending champion: Florida State (20-over 884) by six strokes over LSU; Florida State's Caroline Westrup (eight-under 208) by four strokes over N.C. State's Lauren Doughtie
Skinny: The tournament is being held for the 28th year. Team scores between eight and 15 over have won the event three of the past four years. The last five individual winners, meanwhile, have shot under par for 54 holes.

Baylor Spring Invitational
   (For live scoring, link here to Golfstat)
Twin Rivers GC, Waco, Texas (Par 72, 6,347 yards)
March 16-17
Host: Baylor
Field: Baylor, Colorado State, Illinois State, Iowa, Iowa State, McLennan CC, Missouri State, New Mexico State, North Texas SMU, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, UT-Pan American, UT-San Antonio, Wichita State
Defending champion: New event
Skinny: The Bears are hosting their first regular-season tournament in Waco since 2000

Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational
Kaneohe Klipper GC, Honolulu (Par 72, 5,907 yards)
March 16-18
Host: Hawaii
Field: Boise State, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas State, Lipsomb, Nevada, Northern Colorado, Texas A&M, UTEP
Defending champion: Oklahoma State (16-over 880) by 13 strokes over Arizona; Arizona's Alison Walshe (three-under 213) by five strokes over Oklahoma State's Pernilla Lindberg
Skinny: Field also includes two Japanese schools (Nagoya and Osaka Gakuin)

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News & Tours

Many happy returns for ASU

SORRENTO, FLA.--You couldn't get rid of the smile on the face of Arizona State senior Azahara Munoz as she walked around the practice range at Red Tail GC, preparing to play for the top-ranked Sun Devils in the UCF Challenge. While having only missed two tournaments this spring following surgery Jan. 22 to remove a cyst from her right wrist, the defending NCAA individual champion hadn't played in an event since the end of October, the longest stretch of time off from the game since she began playing in earnest.

"Originally, they thought it was only going to be four weeks, but it turned into six," Munoz said, the impatience in her voice rather obvious. "It's my last semester. I just don't want to miss anything."

The wrist remains sore, and Munoz continues to undergo ultrasound treatments to help regain mobility that has been inhibited by scar tissue. Still, except for the ice bag she carried after the round you wouldn't have noticed anything was amiss Sunday, the 21-year-old Spaniard posting an even-par 72 to place T-23 after 18 holes, six strokes back of leader Jessica Yadloczky of Florida. (In the team competition, UCLA's six-under 282 gave the Bruins a two-stroke lead over ASU through Day 1.)

"The last two weeks she's really made a lot of improvement," said ASU coach Melissa Luellen, Munoz' practice regime finally including full swings within the last 10 days. "She knows she can play through some of the pain. But it broke her heart not to travel to Mexico [for last week's Arizona Wildcat Invitational]."

It wasn't just her own return that Munoz was happy about. Accompanying the Sun Devils to Florida was Missy Farr-Kaye, the team's associate head coach who was traveling to her first tournament of the 2008-09 season after undergoing treatment last fall for a recurrence of breast cancer.

"The hair is coming back, although I've still got to wear a cap," Farr-Kaye said with a laugh, two weeks removed from having finished seven weeks of radiation therapy.

Farr-Kaye had first been diagnosed with cancer in 1998. Her sister, former ASU All-American Heather Farr, died from the disease in 1993.

"I'm not 100 percent just yet, but I'm feeling much better," Farr-Kaye said. "I'm very optimistic about the future."

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News & Tours

NCAA penalizes Florida State athletics

As the Florida State men's golf team was compiling a four-over 292 team score Friday in the opening round of its home event, the Seminole Intercollegiate, the NCAA announced a series of penalties it was imposing on the school's entire athletic program stemming from academic violations that occurred during the fall semester of 2006 through the summer of 2007.

Among other penalties, Florida State was put on probation for four years and had scholarships reduced in 10 sports--including men's golf. The announcement came after an investigation that determined more than 60 student-athletes in the 10 sports were involved in academic fraud involving a music course.

No names of student-athletes were listed in the report, but because at least one member of the men's golf team was involved, the school already had applied a self-imposed reduction in the squad's grants-in-aid for this year from 4.5 scholarships to 4.36. The NCAA did not reduce the scholarship limitation an further for the sport.

The NCAA also decided that all wins in which the student-athletes competed while ineligible during 2006 and 2007 must be vacated. Florida State officials have 90 days to report to the NCAA statistics departments the ineligible student-athletes and the contests that should be impacted by penalties. The Seminole men's golf team didn't win any tournaments during the time period in question. Their ACC championship victory in 2008 was won after the academic fraud had occurred.

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