Maybe it's because I've been watching the NCAA basketball tournaments, but I'm getting antsy for college golf's postseason to finally get here. I feel like we've gotten good glimpses at all the main contenders on the men's and women's sides. Not to diminish any of the remaining regular season events left on the schedule, but lets start playing conference championship and get things rolling. Who's with me?
That said, there is still some housekeeping to do in the next few weeks, specifically on the men's side where the .500 rule may become a factor for some programs moving forward. As of March 26, here are some notable schools that are hovering around the bubble.
SCHOOL, WINS ABOVE/BELOW .500 (Golfstat Rank)
Arizona, +9 (69)*
Texas A&M, +7 (22)**
San Diego State, +4 (55)**
North Carolina, +1 (47)***
Virginia +1 (65)****
San Diego, -2 (82)**
Augusta State, -16 (56)
*Arizona has previously been a victim of the .500 rule.
**A&M, San Diego State and San Diego have all made match play at NCAA (or better) since 2009.
***Been to NCAA Regionals only once in last four years.
****Played at NCAA Nationals four of last five years;
All these schools have multiple events left to improve their records, save Augusta State, which just has the Insperity Augusta State Invitational currently left on its schedule.
If this feels a little like deja vu for ASU, that's because they were faced with a similar predicament a year ago.
Forget for a moment the number 1. The metric by which to measure the California men's golf team, ranked atop the latest Golf World/Nike Golf Division I coaches' poll, these days is something different.
What's so special, you ask, about 71.56? How about that it's the current stroke average of the Golden Bears' fifth-best player in 2012-13, Michael Weaver, the U.S. Amateur runner-up who will be playing in the Masters in two weeks.
Indeed, four other players on the Cal roster have stroke average's lower than Weaver, who by the way ranks T-29 for all Division I players.
Here is how the rest of the team stacks:
Michael Kim, 69.93, No. 2 in the nation
Joel Stalter, 70.33, No. 6
Brandon Hagy, 71.26, No. 17
Max Homa, 71.40, No. 24
Meanwhile, Cal's team individual average is 71.33, more than a stroke better than No. 2 Alabama's (72.36).
A few other notes from the most recent polls:
Tell me if you've heard this one:
The NCAA, in a noble yet somewhat hurried attempt to look out for the best interests of prospective student-athletes as well as college coaches, has asked coaches associations for various sports to submit proposals regarding the possible implementation of a recruiting calendar.
Indeed, if this sounds familiar, it is. Back in 2010, the NCAA Division I Recruiting and Personnel Cabinet made just such a request of the Golf Coaches Association of America and what was then called the National Golf Coaches Association (since renamed the Women's Golf Coaches Association). Both groups submitted proposals, expecting to hear responses shortly thereafter, only to have them never hear another word about them as the Cabinet implemented no changes whatsoever.
Fast forward to 2013.
I say this without much pride, but the 2012-13 women's college golf season has me all confused. Who's good? Who's not so good? Who's gaining momentum? Who's
Amid my confusion, there are a couple story lines that have flown under the radar that are worth a mention.
* Campbell claimed its fifth team title last Sunday a 21-stroke triumph over Mississippi State at the JMU Eagle Invitational. It was the Camels fourth win in five starts, and the 69th overall for coach John Crooks, who is second among active coaches behind Duke's Dan Brooks in career wins. The team is three back of the school's record for most wins in a single season (set in 1997-98) with Crooks' squad having two more regular season events and the Big South Conference Championship (where they're the defending champs) still to play.
* Oklahoma State senior Kelsey Vines is making her case for the player-of-the-year honors. Her 71.26 average is the best in the country, and thus far in the spring she has finished first, second and second. After missing the Bruin Wave Invitational, Vines (right, photo courtesy of Oklahoma State) is in the lineup for the Cowgirls, according to Golfstat, for this weekend's SunTrust Gator Women's Invitational.
At first blush, the fact the USC women remain atop the latest Golf World/WGCA women's Division I coaches' poll doesn't seem all that noteworthy. Sure, the Trojans' recent come-from-behind victory over UCLA at the Bruin Wave Invitational make them the logical pick among voters, their mid-season addition of Annie Park giving an already talented roster of Sophia Popov, Doris Chen, Kyung Kim and Rachel Morris a reliable No. 5 (or better, depending on how everybody is playing).
However, what's notable about USC's No. 1 ranking is that it's the ninth time since Golf World resumed the poll in 2001-02 that the Trojans have claimed the top spot, pulling them out of a tie with Auburn as the fourth most decorate program in the poll's history. Only three schools have been ranked No. 1 more often than USC—Duke, which has claimed the honor 41 times (in 99 editions of the poll); UCLA, top-ranked on 20 occasions; and Arizona State, numero uno 12 times.
No matter where you look today, if you're a college golf fan you've got to have a smile on your face. This weekend has one of the most impressive slates of tournaments, both men and women, we've had for any individual week this spring if not the entire 2012-13 season.
It starts with the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, which as I wrote about in Golf World Preview has 11 of the top 13 teams in the latest Golf World/Nike Golf men's coaches poll competing as well as 14 of the 27 players named to the Ben Hogan Award watch list. Host UNLV has won the team title six times since 2002, when the event was moved to Southern Highlands, but can that trend counter the momentum that top-ranked California carries with it into Vegas? As I've previously noted, this is as close as you get in college golf to a major championship.
Simultaneously, the Bandon Dunes Championship is an intriguing event to follow, with No. 4 Washington being the headliner. The Huskies are in an interesting spot as the clear favorite. How they handle situation will provide valuable insight into just how strong a team Matt Thurmond has in Seattle.
The women, meanwhile, have a counterpunch for both those events.
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.