News & ToursMarch 15, 2012

The Syllabus: Dark horse anyone?

__THE FAB FIVE

____My look at the top five teams in the country right now

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__1. UNLV __(Last week: 5)

Naysayers will tell you all about how the Rebels' first four wins this season were in events with lower-profile fields. You can't say that, however, about their victory at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters. Sure, there's the home-course advantage factor that might put an asterisk in some minds, but we're running out of excuses why we can't take Blake Biddle,Derek Ernst and Kevin Penner seriously.

Next event: National Invitational Tournament, Omni Tucson National Resort, Tucson, March 16-17

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2.____Texas (1)

To head off an onslaught of likely emails from Longhorn fans, dropping UT to No. 2 is not to be misinterpreted as saying that the team is any less a threat to win the Big 12 or NCAA title than it was any time this spring. It's just a sign that they aren't as unstoppable as they once might have appeared to be. No reason, though, to panic in Austin.

Next event: Morris Williams Intercollegiate, University of Texas GC, Austin, March 16-17

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__3. Favorite state school in California

The third-place showing byUCLA__ in Vegas makes it hard to drop the Bruins out of the top five, although they're space is going to have to be sub-leased with upstart Cal-Berkeley. The Bears' one-stroke defeat at Southern Highlands comes after a nice victory at the John Burns in February. The team has been using the "no-respect" card a lot lately, but if it continues to win Steve Desimone and Walter Chun are going to have to pull a new trick out of their coaching hat. __

__Next event: UCLA—Stanford Intercollegiate, Stanford University GC, Palo Alto, Calif., March 30-April 1; California—Callaway Collegiate Match Play, The Concession GC, Bradenton, Fla.,  March 18-20

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4. Auburn (3)

The Tigers are part of a statistical anomaly in that according to Golfstat they rank seventh in the country in team scoring average (72.40) but are not in the top 10 in par-3 scoring or par-4 scoring and are ninth in par-5 scoring. They're also out of the top 50 in birdies made (259). Bottom line: the team might not got quite as low as others but it also doesn't make a whole lot of big numbers. I like that trait a lot.

Next event: Schenkel Invitational, Forest Heights CC, Statesboro, Ga., March 16-18

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5. Alabama__ __(2)

The bad news: the Crimson Tide fell flat in Las Vegas (T-9) after carrying a nice size helping of momentum with them from their Puerto Rico win. The good news: there's not much time to get down as the squad hits the road for the Schenkel.

Next event: Schenkel Invitational, Forest Heights CC, Statesboro, Ga., March 16-18

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Women__

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__1. UCLA __(1)

Just a hunch, but once the Bruins get through finals this week I get a sense that they're going to kick things up a notch in Westwood. This group has a lot of pride, and Carrie Forsyth wasn't inducted into the NGCA coaches' hall of fame for nothing.

Next event: Ping/ASU Invitational, Karsten GC, Tempe, Ariz., March 30-April 1

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__2. Alabama __(2)

If you listened to Stephanie Meadow in my podcast interview with her last week, you got a sense that last year's slip up at NCAAs has served as a motivator for this year's Crimson Tide squad without it becoming something that is slammed over their head every day. A healthy pinch of pain can be a good thing.

*Next event: *Lady Gator Invitational, Mark Bostick GC at U. of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., March 16-18

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__3. LSU __(3)

There's likely some disappointment in the way the final nine holes shook out at the LSU Golf Classic, as the Tigers saw Tennessee take the title. "Basically we just didn't do what we needed to do at the end to win," admitted coach Karen Bahnsen. If LSU can use the experience to improve, at least the defeat won't be for naught.

Next event: Ping/ASU Invitational, Karsten GC, Tempe, Ariz., March 30-April 1

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4. Arizona (4)

Manon Gidali has yet to lose a college tournament. Granted she's only played in two, but the French freshman's streak is an interesting storyline heading to Southern California this week. She's also a key reason why the Wildcats are a team to watch.

Next event: Battle at Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Bernardo GC,

Rancho Bernardo, Calif., March 18-20

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__5. Auburn __(5)

If the Tiger men's team has an unusual combination of stats, the school's women's team isn't far behind. Kim Evans' crew is ninth in the country in scoring (74.57) but outside the top 10 in par-3 scoring and par-5 scoring. And their birdies (211) rank them only T-22 in the country.

*Next event: *Lady Gator Invitational, Mark Bostick GC at U. of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., March 16-18

STAT OF THE WEEK

1

Number of seasons since 1988 (23 seasons total) that Florida failed to win either the men's Gator Invitational or the women's Gator Invitational. With the Florida men finishing second at Mark Bostick GC last month, the Florida women risk having 2012 become the first year since 1998 in which the Gators don't claim the team title in at least one of their home tournaments.

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TWEET OF THE WEEK

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—Tiffany Lua, UCLA junior

The quarter system in full force out in the Pac-12

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__RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

__I can't say I ever owned the entire set of Encyclopaedia Brittanica, but knowing it was there at my local library for me to look something up was a comfort that will be missing after this week's announcement that it will no longer be printed after 244 years. Without it, we'll only be left with A.J. Jacobs amusing book "The Know-It-All" about how he read all 33,000 pages.

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WHAT TO WATCH FOR

__* Should the Clemson men win this weekend's Furman Intercollegiate, it will mark not just the third straight year the Tigers have won this tournament title, but their second straight victory this spring after most recently winning the Palmetto Invitational. Quick, when was the last time a Larry Penley's squad one back-to-back tournaments? Amazingly you have to go all the way back to spring 2004 when Clemson claimed the ACC title and then the East Regional crown.

My point in bringing this up is that while the Tigers have been under the radar on the national scene in recent years, they might just be gaining momentum at a perfect time to make some noise in this year's postseason--or at least be a interesting dark-horse selection come April and May.

"We're in situation now where we expect to win, which is a little bit different for this team. but I like it," Penley said prior to the Furman event. "That's something we need to learn how to do. That's the situation we'll be in this week. I think we're the best team there. We're expected to win so we'll see how we handle that."

Crawford Reeves.jpeg

While U.S. Amateur Public Links champion Corbin Mills might be the most well-known player on the Tigers squad, Penley noted the return of Crawford Reeves (right) to the lineup as a spark that has served his team well this spring. The redshirt junior from Greenville, S.C., (where the Furman Invite is being held) sat out the fall with a back injury after playing arguably the best of any Clemson golfer at the end of the 2010-11 season. He picked up where he left off with T-23 finish at the Puerto Rico Classic and a runner-up showing at the Palmetto, posting a 71.0 average in his six rounds.

Playing near home would lead you to believe Reeves might be a key contributor again this weekend—that and the fact he has finished fourth and sixth in his previous two starts at the tournament. His birdie on the 18th hole a year ago also clinched Clemson's one-shot victory over Virginia.

Reeves will play an even bigger role for Penley's team in the coming weeks as Mills will be sitting out of Clemson's two last tournaments (Insperity Augusta State Invite and the All-American) to play in the Masters. If you're looking for unsung heroes, he might just be a leading candidate.

  • Earlier this week, I tweeted a link to a story by Jan Moore in the Statesboro (Ga.) Herald about the economic impact that holding the Schenkel Invitational has for local business. It was really interesting to see a breakdown of the various dollars that roll into the quaint Georgia town each March when Georgia Southern holds this event at Forest Heights CC. More than $50,000 are spent in hotel fees and meals from the players, coaches and parents over the weekend. It's not a huge figure, but it isn't a small one either. When colleges consider hosting tournaments, this might not be a bad story to have in hand when trying to drum up support from a local chamber of commerce--or maybe even shake them for a few dollars.

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TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS__

__MEN

National Invitational Tournament

__   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

Omni Tucson National, Tucson

March 16-17

Host: Arizona

Defending champion: Tulsa (+3/867) by seven strokes over SMU; Arizona's Jonathan Khan (-6/210) by one stroke over Tulsa's Stephen Carney

Field: Arizona, Army, BYU, Hawaii, Memphis, Northern Colorado, Northern Iowa, San Diego State, SMU, UNLV, UTEP, Wyoming

Skinny: In the event's nine-year history, host Arizona has won the team title just once (2003) and had an individual win medalist honors only once (Jonathan Khan, 2011).

__Morris Williams Intercollegiate

__   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

University of Texas GC, Austin, Texas

March 16-17

Host: Texas

Defending champion: Texas (+40/892) by two strokes over Texas Tech; TCU's Tom Hoge (+2/215) by one stroke over Stanford's Andrew Yun

Field: Charleston, New Mexico, North Texas, Sam Houston State, St. John's, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Texas-Arlington, Utah, Wake Forest

Skinny: Think that the .500 rule in men's golf isn't opening up playing opportunities for lower-profile schools? Just look at St. John's being in the field here in Austin. This would never have occurred in the 1980s or 1990s.

__Border Olympics

__   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

Laredo CC, Laredo, Texas

March 16-17

Host: Houston

Defending champion: Arkansas (-32/832) by five strokes over Oklahoma; Rice's Michael Whitehead (-19/197) by two strokes over Arkansas' Sebastian Cappelen

Field: Baylor, Central Arkansas, Eastern Michigan, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas, Lamar, Louisiana tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Mississippi State, Rice, Southern Mississippi, Stephen F. Austin, Texas State, Texas-San Antonio, VCU

Skinny: Wide-open event with defending champion Arkansas not back in the field at Laredo.

__Furman Intercollegiate

__   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

Furman University GC, Greenville, S.C.

March 16-18

Host: Furman

Defending champion: Clemson (-16/848) by 12 strokes over Kennesaw State; Purdue's William Sjaichudin (-10/206) by one stroke over East Carolina's Harold Varner

Field: Charleston Southern, Clemson, Coastal Carolina, East Tennessee State, Elon, Francis Marion, Furman, Gardner-Webb, Georgia, Georgia State, Marshall, Michigan, Presbyterian, Purdue, Samford, Temple, Troy, Virginia Tech, Western Carolina, Winthrop

Skinny: Clemson is trying to become just the second program to win the Furman title in three straight seasons, Virginia Tech having accomplished the feat in 2001-03.

__Schenkel Invitational

__   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

Forest Heights CC, Statesboro, Ga.

March 16-18

Host: Georgia Southern

Defending champion: Auburn (-16/848) in playoff over Florida; Florida's Bank Vongvanij (-9/207) by one stroke over North Florida's Kevin Aylwin and Auburn's Kyle Kopsick

Field: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia Southern, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, N.C. State, North Florida, Notre Dame, South Carolina, UAB, Vanderbilt, Virginia

Skinny: Seven of the 14 teams in the field have won at least one tournament during the 2011-12 season.

__Bandon Dunes Championship

__   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

Bandon Dunes Resort (Trails course), Bandon, Ore.

March 16-18

Host: Gonzaga

Defending champion: Washington (+7/871) by eight strokes over Oregon; Washington's Charlie Hughes (-6/210) by six strokes over Washington's Chris Williams

Field: British Columbia, Colorado, Gonzaga, Hartford, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Marquette, Missouri-Kansas City, Oregon, Oregon State, Pacific, San Jose State, Utah Valley, Washington, Weber State

Skinny: Bandon! Dunes! Not much more needs to be said about getting to play in this event. Incredible setting.

Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship

The Concession GC, Bradenton, Fla.

March 18-20

Host: GCAA

Defending champion: Duke df Illinois, 4-1

Field (seed): Arizona State (14), Arkansas (1), California (2), Chattanooga (5), Colorado State (13), Duke (3), East Carolina (9), Indiana (6), Iowa (8), Kennesaw State (11), Liberty (7), UNC Wilmington (15), Oklahoma State (4), South Florida (12), Tennessee (10), Washington State (16)

Skinny: Challenging course is set up well for match-play competition as it hosted Big Ten match play earlier in the year.

__UCF Rio Pinar Invitational

__Rio Pinar CC, Orlando

March 19-20

Host: UCF

Defending champion: UCF (-23/841) by five strokes over Liberty; Florida Gulf Coast's Daniel Mazziotta (-12/204) in a playoff over Liberty's Robert Karlsson

Field: Akron, Campbell, Cleveland State, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, George Mason, Houston Baptist, Loyola (Md.), Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois, Seton Hall, Stetson, UCF, Western Illinois, Wichita State

Skinny: The Knights have played the role of poor hosts of late, winning the event each of the past four seasons.

__WOMEN

Clover Cup

__   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

Longbow GC, Mesa, Ariz.

March 16-17

Host: Notre Dame

Defending champion: New event

Field: Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida International, Furman, Iowa State, Michigan, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, SMU, Texas Tech, Tulsa

Skinny: One last swing through the desert for several Midwestern schools.

__Insperity Lady Jaguar Intercollegiate

__   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

Forrest Hills GC, Augusta, Ga.

March 16-18

Host: Augusta State

Defending champion: Purdue (-5/859) by 21 strokes over Augusta State; Augusta State's Casey Kennedy (-11/205) by five strokes over Purdue's Paula Reto

Field: Arkansas-Little Rock, Augusta State, Charleston Southern, East Tennessee State, Indiana, Kennesaw State, Lamar, Memphis, Purdue, South Alabama, Southern Mississippi, Troy, Texas-San Antonio, Western Carolina

Skinny: Purdue chooses to defend its title here rather than at Rancho Bernardo. Hoping to find a spark before the postseason.

__SunTrust Gator Women's Invitational

__   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

Mark Bostick GC, Gainesville, Fla.

March 16-18

Host: Florida

Defending champion: Florida (+25/865) by 18 strokes over Florida State; Florida State's Hannah Thomson (E/210) by two strokes over Ohio State's Vicky Villanueva

Field: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Chattanooga, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia State, Kent State, Kentucky, Mississippi, Mississippi State, South Florida, UCF, Wisconsin

Skinny: Nice little slugfest set for Gainesville. Three top-10 teams in most recent Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll playing, five top-15 teams.

__Battle at Rancho Bernardo

__   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

Rancho Bernardo GC, Rancho Bernardo, Calif.

March 18-20

Host: San Diego State

Defending champion: Purdue (+15/879) by seven strokes over USC; Purdue's Laura Gonzalez-Escallon (-7/209) by six strokes over USC's Lizette Salas and UNLV's Therese Koelbaek

Field: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Coastal Carolina, Denver, Long Beach State, Miami (Fla.), New Mexico, Pepperdine, San Diego State, Texas, Texas A&M, Tulane, UNLV, USC, Washington

Skinny: Getting a little late in the season for both USC and Arizona State not to have a win yet. Particularly considering each is ranked in the top seven in the most recent Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll.

__BYU at Entrada Classic

__   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

Entrada at Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah

March 21-22

Host: BYU

Defending champion: Wisconsin (+50/914) by five strokes over Oklahoma State; New Mexico State's Demi Mak (+2/218) by four strokes over Illinois' Hailey Koschmann

Field: BYU, CSU Fullerton, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico State, North Texas, Northern Arizona, Oklahoma State, Southern Utah, Texas State, Utah Valley, Weber State, Wyoming

Skinny: Cougars are hosting the event for the 26th time.

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