Mid-season Awards: Question marks
Coaches, players and fans are all curious about how what is in store for some golfers as they gear up for spring. Here is a look at some who's fates could have a particular impact on the national scene.
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David Chung, Stanford
It wasn't until the Cardinal's last tournament of the fall, the Gifford Collegiate, that arguably its best player finally was in the lineup. Officially, the senior who claimed victories at the Porter Cup and Western Amateur this summer before finishing runner-up at the U.S. Amateur missed the first two tournaments while taking care of a personal matter and the Isleworth tournament because he was playing for the U.S. at the World Amateur Team Championship in Argentina. Regardless of the reason, any momentum Chung built up from his torrid play in the summer has all but evaporated.
Suffice it to say, Chung's ability to bounce back in the spring will have a major bearing on Stanford's fortunes overall.Conrad Ray's squad entering the fall ranked second in the Golf World/Nike Golf preseason coaches' poll only to drop to 13th earlier this month. Without his reliable senior to count on, a Pac-10 title, if not bigger rewards, become much tougher to secure.
Honorable mention:* Drew Kittleson, Florida State
It appeared that the up-and-down portion of the Seminole senior's college career might have finally ended when he claimed medalist honors at the NCAA Central Regional last May and helped FSU reach the Final Four at the NCAA Championship. Yet this fall, the former U.S. Amateur runner-up's best finish was a T-13 at the Brickyard Intercollegiate. The 21-year-old seems to possess an awful lot of talent but it will be curious to see how he handles his final semester and whether he can prove once and for all just how good college player he seemingly could be.
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The Sun Devils explore new territory this spring as Melissa Luellen finally has enough players on her roster to field a compete team. Can a squad that essentially abstained from the fall season still be a national contender come the spring?
One thing ASU fans have going for them is junior Carlota Ciganda, who played steady as an individual in two fall events (T-19 at the NCAA Preview; T-9 at the Mason Rudolph) and remains one of the most talented players in the women's game. If she and fellow junior Giulia Molinaro, the other lone returning player in Tempe, can step up while the team's newcomers get acclimated with school and college golf, Luellen has enough talent at the front end of his roster to make up for lost time.
Honorable mention:* Maude-Aimee LeBlanc, Purdue
The 21-year-old senior from Quebec, like the rest of the Boilermaker roster, went AWAL in the fall opener (T-67 finish), only to bounce back with three top 12 finishes in the remaining three fall starts. The knock on LeBlanc throughout her career has been just where she is mentally all the time. If she becomes committed this spring, she could easily contend for Big Ten player-of-the-year honors and help Purdue make a run at repeating as national champions. But if she lets her focus wander, the forecast in West Lafayette gets a bit darker.