News & ToursDecember 21, 2011

The Syllabus: Curtis Cup/Holiday edition

__THE FAB FIVE

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

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Men

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1.____Texas (Last week: 1)

The Longhorns hold the top spot in every major college poll entering the spring semester, including the Golf World/Nike Golf men's coaches' poll. Interestingly, though, only once since the resumption of the poll in the 2001-02 season has a mid-season No. 1 gone on to win the NCAA title (Clemson, 2003).

Next event: Amer Ari Invitational, Waikoloa Kings GC, Kohala Coast, Hawaii, Feb. 1-3

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2. Oregon (2)

Like the school's football team, Casey Martin's crew makes a statement with its scoring prowess. Still can't wrap my head around the fact the Ducks have four starters posting 71.33 or better (Eugene Wong, 68.5;Daniel Miernicki, 70.08;Rak Cho, 70.75;Andrew Vijarro, 71.33).

Next event: Amer Ari Invitational, Waikoloa Kings GC, Kohala Coast, Hawaii, Feb. 1-3

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3. Arkansas (3)

Brad McMakin's energy is real, and he's got a group of players who have bought in to the notion that they should not just be ranked third in a poll like this, but first. So far the Razorbacks are the best men's example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

Next event: Sun Trust Gator Invitational, Mark Bostick GC, Gainesville, Fla., Feb. 11-12

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__4. UCLA __(4)

The Bruins are in nice position to contend for an NCAA title this spring, but they have the interesting question of whether Patrick Cantlay's run up to playing in the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open next summer might somehow distract him from his college events. Cantlay has showed in the past that focus isn't his problem, so my guess is this shouldn't be an issue, but you never know.

Next event: Amer Ari Invitational, Waikoloa Kings GC, Kohala Coast, Hawaii, Feb. 1-3

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5. Washington (5)

Say this about the Huskies, there is no more entertaining and interesting a group of folks in college golf. Worth following coach Matt Thurmond and his players via Twitter

Next event: Amer Ari Invitational, Waikoloa Kings GC, Kohala Coast, Hawaii, Feb. 1-3

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Women__

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__1. UCLA __(1)

Any other school in college golf that would lose the team's most experienced player, a perennial All-American, midway through the season would be reeling, but the Bruins' impressive depth will let them absorb the unexpected loss of Stephanie Kono. The team might not be as heavy a favorite to repeat as NCAA champs as it was a month ago, but it's still the favorite.

Next event: Arizona Wildcat Invitational, The GC at Vistoso, Tucson, Feb. 5-7

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__2. Alabama __(2)

I've got a feeling this is going to be a really good spring for Brooke Pancake. The senior All-American is a talented, determined player who wants to finish up her college career in a very specific way--with an NCAA title.

*Next event: *Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate, English Turn GC, New Orleans, Feb. 26-28

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__3. Auburn __(3)

Saw coach Kim Evans at the AJGA Polo Golf Classic prior to Thanksgiving. She seems pretty invigorated by this young team she's got. Only thing the Tigers were missing from the fall was a victory (they had two 2nds and two 3rds). They could easily grab that in the spring opener.

Next event: UCF Invitational, Red Tail GC, Sorrento, Fla., Feb. 12-14

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__4. LSU __(5)

I moved the Tigers up a spot despite no teams having played the last few weeks. I just like this LSU team's depth, as showcase by their two victories this fall. Of course, I don't like their inconsistency, but I'm thinking that's something this groups resolves in the spring.

Next event: Lady Puerto Rico Classic, Rio Mar CC, Rio Mar, Puerto Rico, Feb. 12-14

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5. Oklahoma State (4)

The Cowgirls were a big surprise in the fall, with two wins and a new sense of confidence. The question now is whether they can handle the spotlight that's now being shinned on them. Going to be an interesting team to watch in the coming months.

Next event: Lady Puerto Rico Classic, Rio Mar CC, Rio Mar, Puerto Rico, Feb. 12-14

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STAT OF THE WEEK__

__7

Number of players on the Oklahoma State roster (out of 11 total) that have competed in five or fewer tournaments during their college career. With the departure of Peter Uihlein, who will skip the final semester of his senior year to turn pro, only senior Sean Einhaus (23),  sophomore Talor Gooch (16), junior Drew Page (12) and sophomore Kevin Dougherty (8) in more than five.

RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

Is there anything better than classic Christmas music?

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

* Christmas came early for five women's collegians as the USGA announced today that North Dakota State's Amy Anderson, Duke's__Lindy Duncan, UCLA's__Tiffany Lua__, Alabama's__Brooke Pancake__ and LSU's Austin Ernst had been named to the 2012 U.S. Curtis Cup team. This group were among the obvious choices, all deserving given their college track records as well as their USGA resumes to be on the team that will travel to Nairn GC in Scotland next June.

Of course now the interesting part is who makes up the final three that will be picked next month. (Think there isn't going to be something on the line for those playing at the Harder Hall Invitational and the Sally the first two weeks of January!) Stephanie Kono was a lock to make the squad, so there's one extra spot that available for the rest of the at large pool. What's most intriguing to me is that unlike in year's past, there isn't a standout junior golfer that has an inside track at a spot, a la Paula Creamer__and Michelle Wie in 2004,  Kimberly Kim__in 2006 and__ Jessica Korda and Lexi Thompson__ in 2010. Indeed my guess is that the last three spots will also go to college players, making the this coming team the oldest since 2006.

  • One more college event to watch in 2011 is the inaugural Patriot All America to be held at The Wigwam Resort outside of Phoenix Dec. 26-28. The tournament has come together through the support of the Arizona GA, the Golf Coaches Association of America and Folds of Honor, a charity that provides scholarships to children and family members of military men and women injured or killed in the line of duty.

A field of 84 players is expected to compete as individuals, each carrying a golf bag with the name of a fallen soldier on it. The players will sign their bags (and those of their competitors each day) and then bring them back to their schools where they will be auctioned off in hopes of raising upwards of $84,000 for Folds of Honor.

Continuing with the military theme of the event, three F-16s are scheduled to do a fly over during the opening ceremony with a parachute jump team bringing with them seven flags. Additionally, the winner of the 54-hole tournament will receive a fighter pilot jacket.

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