__GOLF WORLD Players of the Week
Week of Oct. 23-29
Jamie Lovemark, Southern California
Marisa Milligan, Auburn__
__THE FAB FIVE
My look at the top five teams in the country right now
1. Alabama—For the first time in school history, the Crimson Tide are tops in all four major polls (Golf World, Golfweek/Sagarin, GCAA/Bridgestone, Golfstat).
3. UCLA—The Bruins get a bit of a pass for their T-7 performance at the Match Play. Expect them to bounce back as they host the CordeValle Collegiate (see below).
4. Florida—For the second time in four seasons the Gators record top-five finishes in each of their fall starts.
5. Stanford—The Cardinal’s 15-under total at last month’s Prestige was their fourth best showing in school history.
- Georgia__—The Bulldog record for best single-season scoring average by an individual is Angela Jerman's 72.91 set in 2001-02. At mid-way point of 2006-07 season, Whitney Wade (72.33) and Taylor Leon (71.55) are already on pace to break the mark.
2. Duke—First time the Blue Devils aren’t the No. 1 seed when playing in the Hooters Collegiate Match Play Championship.
3. Arizona State—The Sun Devils, second to Oklahoma State at this week's Las Vegas Founders Collegiate Showdown, are getting their tee shots in the fairway nearly 80 percent of the time while hitting greens in regulation at an almost 67-percent clip.
__5. Auburn __—The Tigers withstood tough weather at their home event, never letting challengers get a real chance to steal away the Derby Invitational title.
__STAT OF THE WEEK
Worst individual finish by a Tulsa men’s golfer (junior Ryan Henry) during this past weekend’s Landfall Tradition outside of Wilmington, N.C. Junior Mitch Cohlmia and freshman Nicolas Geyger shared medalist honors while junior Brett Myers and junior Sam Korbe had top-five showings. Not surprisingly, the Golden Hurricane managed to win the team title—by 26 shots—giving the school back-to-back victories for the first time since the spring 1998.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
- THERE ARE big wins in college golf and then there are BIG WINS, and two of the later came in the past week. John Fields says he sensed a different attitude with this year’s Texas men’s squad even before the Longhorns won their first team title since 2004 at the Isleworth/UCF Collegiate. Still, the 12-shot win over one of the deepest fields of the fall season will allow his players to enjoy the winter break on a positive note and help quiet rumblings of Texas' long-term downfall.
The Longhorns might have gotten their breakthrough victory earlier if not for a scorecard error at last month’s Jerry Pate National Collegiate (freshman standout Lance Lopez signed for the wrong number, forcing Texas to drop his 66 in favor of a 73; the Longhorns finished third overall, nine shots back of winner Alabama). Fields said the team didn’t dwell on the mishap, had its best qualifier in five years prior to the Isleworth tournament and then rode the momentum to Orlando. In addition to Lopez (72.13 stroke average), seniors Farren Keenan (72.5) and Jhonattan Vegas (71.83) have had solid falls, as has Matt Bortis (71.83), a transfer from Arkansas.
“I think that [the last few seasons] we had kind of a selfish attitude that persisted among several players that was kind of infectious and just precluded us from crating the kind of atmosphere you’d want around your golf team,” Fields said. “Without dwelling on that too much, I’m just thankful being where I am right now and with the guys that I’m coaching right now. There is a lot of good things that are about to happen with this program.”
Meanwhile, the Virginia women might have needed a tiebreaker to claim victory after being caught by Michigan State in the final round of the Landfall Tradition, but coach Jan Mann will take it considering it means the Cavaliers finally have that historic first win in program history out of the way. In three-and-a-half years since her team's debut, Mann has built her team into a national power, but she needed this group to actually finish off the job and take home some hardware if her players were to have complete confidence they could compete with the best squads in the country.
Even better is that they hung on despite a poor start in the final round at the Nicklaus Course at the CC of Landfall in Wilmington, N.C. Had UVa let it slip away, it would have been a long fall in Charlottesville.
- COLONIAL CC and the Friends of Golf in cooperation with the Golf Coaches Association of America announced last week the 23 players who made the “watch list” for the 2007 Ben Hogan Award. There aren’t any real surprises, although I wonder about the prudence of announcing this list so early in the season. Recall that in the 2003-04 season, Spencer Levin didn’t tee it up for New Mexico until the spring semester and eventually played his way into the running for national player of the year honors. There’s a risk that could happen again here, not so much from a player that didn’t play during the fall but rather from one who didn’t play well enough to win but then catches fire in the spring. What about someone such as Texas A&M’s Bronson Burgoon, Alabama’s Joseph Sykora or Vanderbilt’s Luke List? All three have shown potential for All-American caliber seasons. For my money, though, the player that Colonial CC, FOG and the GCAA might regret not having on the list is BYU’s Daniel Summerhays, who hasn’t finished worse that T-7, has broken par in six of his nine rounds and has a 69.67 stroke average entering next week’s Pacific Invitational.
TOURAMENT TO WATCH
CordeValle CC, San Martin, Calif. (For live scoring, click here)
Field: Arizona, Arkansas, Augusta State, California, Coastal Carolina, Lamar, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Pepperdine, Santa Clara, South Carolina, Stanford, TCU, UCLA, USC, Washington
Defending champion: UCLA (15-under 849); Michael Wilson, California (10-under 206)
Skinny: In the event’s debut last fall, UCLA’s Erik Flores had his coming out party as the then freshman made five birdies on the inward nine en route to a final-round 68 to help the Bruins capture the team title by six shots over Northwestern.