__GOLF WORLD Players of the Week
Week of Oct. 16-22
Zack Miller, Stanford
Kristen Svicarovich,__ Vanderbilt
__THE FAB FIVE
My look at the top five teams right now in the country
1. Alabama—Coach Jay Seawell and his Crimson Tide squad are about to learn that being the one chasing the top team in the country is the easy part. Being the one that’s getting chased is much tougher.
2. UCLA—The Bruins had three players post top-five finishes individually at Oregon’s Pacific Dunes while claiming the title at the Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge. Worst stroke average among 10 players to have played at least six rounds? 74.83.
3. Oklahoma State—It’s asking a lot to expect the Cowboys to beat perhaps the strongest field of the season thus far at the Isleworth-UCF Invitational when their two best players (Pablo Martin and Jonathan Moore) are in South Africa playing for Spain and the U.S. at this week’s World Amateur Team Championship. Both will be missing from the Callaway Golf Collegiate Match Play, as well, making it easy to see how OSU might go winless this fall.
- Georgia__—Only thing that can sidetrack the Bulldogs, it seems, is the stomach flu. Sophomore Taylor Leon forced to WD in the final round at Stanford leaves Georgia shorthanded, yet Todd McCorkle’s bunch still flies back from California with a top-three finish.
2. Duke—Even the Blue Devils are going to struggle without their top two players (Amanda Blumenherst and Jennie Lee) in the line-up. Still, coach Dan Brooks needs a better finish than seventh at next week’s Hooters Collegiate Match Play to keep from making it a long winter in Durham, N.C.
3. Arizona State—While away at the women’s World Amateur Team Championship, __Azahara Munoz __of Spain shot a five-under 283, tying her for third individually. Anna Nordqvist of Sweden, meanwhile, shot a one-under 287, good for a T-14.
- Vanderbilt__—Win once (Lady Tar Heel Invitational) and there are those who can say you got lucky. Win a second time (last weekend’s Stanford Women’s Collegiate) and the only thing people are saying is “Watch out for the Commodores.”
- Auburn__—Question for the Tigers entering 2006-07 was who would step up to replace Maria Martinez as the team’s anchor. Coach Kim Evans hopes to get an answer this weekend in her home event.
__STAT OF THE WEEK
Number of shots lower than the average for the 60-player field that USC freshman Jamie Lovemark shot at Pacific Dunes GC in Bandon, Ore., en route to claiming medalist honors at the Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge. The 18-year-old from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., shot rounds of 70-72-67 for a four-under 209 total, eight strokes better than runner-up Daniel Im of UCLA. Of the 12 rounds of even-par or lower posted throughout the 54-hole event, Lovemark had three as he claimed his first college title and helped the Trojans finish in second place as a team.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
- Instead of playing for Texas A&M at this week’s Isleworth-UCF Invitational, Aggie sophomore Bronson Burgoon was teeing it up at the Tradition Course at Cypresswood GC in Spring, Texas, where he is competing in the first stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School. It’s a scenario college coaches feared when the USGA agreed a few years ago to allow amateurs to enter Q school without losing their amateur status. The “free pass” would persuade top players to give Q school a shot, likely causing them not only to miss college tournaments but more class time, potentially jeopardizing their academic eligibility should they not get a card and decide to return to school in the spring.
To coach J.T. Higgins’ credit, he’s taking the high road on the matter. “Bronson is an outstanding player and obviously an important member of our team, but it is also his dream to play on the PGA Tour,” he said. “Playing in Q-school as an amateur gives him the opportunity to see how he stacks up against the pros without compromising his amateur status and his eligibility to play for Texas A&M. Like all our players, we want to do everything we can to help him reach his goals.”
Higgins went on to say that without Burgoon in the line-up, it would allow him to see just how deep his Aggie team—ranked eighth in this week’s new Golf World College Coaches poll—might be. With a third-place finish at Isleworth, 14 shots back of winner Texas, he likely has his answer. Sure, coach will gladly welcome back Burgoon to the line-up Sunday when the Aggies close out the fall at the Callaway Golf Collegiate Match Play Championship in Fort Worth. But if his top player were to successfully navigate through first and second stage and decide to turn pro, Higgins has a team that can survive.
- If you’re looking for a sleeper men’s team to watch for in the spring, keep your eye on New Mexico. That is, however, if Lobo senior Charlie Beljan’s back can hold up. The 22-year-old from Mesa, Ariz., has had to miss two of UNM’s four fall tournaments because of spasms that have flared up now for a few years (you might recall he was forced to skip the NCAA Championship because of them in 2005). In his two fall starts, however, the former U.S. Junior Amateur champion has shown his All-American talent, winning medalist honors by one shot at both last month’s Tucker Invitational and this week’s Club Glove Intercollegiate after making birdie on the final hole in each event.
Millican says the problem is muscular, with the pain centering around Beljan’s tailbone. “It’s not like a bulging disc where you could have surgery or something to treat it,” said Millican. “We’ve just got to monitor things closely, and he’s learning how to cope with it.”
Suffice it to say, as Beljan goes, so goes the Lobos, who won the Tucker and finished T-2 at the Club Glove with their top player in the line-up. In their other two starts with Beljan at home, though, UNM finished 15th and 10th. “More than just his score, he brings a great deal of leadership with him,” Millican said.
__TOURAMENT TO WATCH
The Auburn-Derby Invitational__
Auburn University Club (for live stats, click here)
Field: Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Birmingham Southern, Central Florida, Florida, Florida State, Furman, Kansas, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas.
Defending champion: Auburn (15-over 879); Maria Martinez, Auburn (seven-under 209)
Skinny: It’s an interesting twist of fate that the week in which a tournament name after her is being played, former Auburn coach and 2006 U.S. Curtis Cup team member Virginia Derby Grimes is making headlines of her own. The 43-year-old advanced to the semifinals at this week’s U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, a tournament she won back in 1998 and finished runner-up in 2004. It was back in 1998 that the event was renamed to honor Derby Grimes, who got it started when she was the Tigers coach in 1994. Interestingly, the host school has allowed the title to be passed around a fair amount among its guests; Auburn has won the event three times in 10 starts. Also interesting, no school from outside the Southeastern Conference has ever won the event.