Returning NCAA player of the year Justin Thomas and two other All-Americans in Bobby Wyatt and Cory Whitsett for the 2012-13 college season, Alabama claims the No. 1 spot in the Golf World/Nike Golf Division I preseason men's coaches' poll. The Crimson Tide, hard-luck runner's up at last year's NCAA Championship, earned 13 of the 23 available first-place votes. It's the first time the school has been ranked atop the Golf World polls since the close of the 2007-08 season and the first time since the polls were revived in 2001-02 that the team is No. 1 to start the fall.
With the Alabama women's team also being No. 1 in the Golf World/NGCA women's preseason coaches' poll, it marks the second time since Golf World revived the polls in 2001-02 that the same school starts the season atop by the men's and women's polls.
Defending NCAA champion Texas, with eight first-place votes, claimed the No. 2 spot in the ranking. The Longhorns won the national championship last June at Riviera CC, the first time the school had claim college golf's top prize in 40 years.
Pac-12 champion California, an NCAA semifinalist in 2012, earned the third spot. The Golden Bears had four players reach match play at the recent U.S. Amateur Championship, including runner-up Michael Weaver.
Rounding out the top five are UCLA and Washington. The Bruins must replace Patrick Cantlay, the 2011 NCAA player of the year who turned pro this past summer, while the Huskies are led by senior Chris Williams, the No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Oglethorpe, the defending NCAA champions, once again look like the team to beat in Division III as the 2012-13 college season begins. The Stormy Petrels garnered 12 of the 16 available first-place votes to grab the No. 1 ranking in the Golf World/Nike Golf D-III preseason men's coaches' poll. The Atlanta-based school comes off a season in which it won its final two events, winning the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference along with the national title.
Conspicuous by its absence is Oklahoma Christian. The perennial NAIA contender is making the move the NCAA and will be eventually be competing in Division II.
Indian Hills and South Mountain, defending NJCAA champions in Division I and Division II, are expected to continue their winning ways. The two school were hold the No. 1 spots, respectively, in the Golf World/Nike Golf NJCAA preseason men's coaches' polls.