News & ToursMarch 29, 2012

The Syllabus: Krafty performers

__THE FAB FIVE

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

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1.____Texas (Last week: 1)

If baseball has the dog days of August, then these are the dog days of college golf, at least for the Longhorns, who have two more tournaments after their start this weekend in Augusta before the Big 12 Championship. On the plus side, they've got plenty of time to sharpen things for the postseason. On the minus side, they've got plenty of time to lose some confidence. Says here, John Fields will have them doing more of the former.

Next event: Insperity Augusta State Invitational, Forest Hills GC, Augusta, Ga., March 31-April 1 [#image: /photos/55ad7493add713143b425c23]|||Alabama logo.gif|||

2. Alabama__ __(2)

There was no let down for the Crimson Tide at the Linger Longer, with the squad winning by 14 strokes and Cory Whitsett tearing up the course in the final round to tie a school record with a 64 and eventually claim medalist honors. Vegas finish is now seem more and more like an outlier than anything else.

Next event: Gary Koch Invitational, Old Memorial GC, Tampa, April 7-8

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__3. UNLV __(3)

The Rebels are going to have to watch out for a suddenly streaking San Diego State when they get to the Mountain West Conference Championship, but with five wins and two runner-up finishes in eight starts this season, UNLV should still be the favorites and Dwaine Knight needs to be considered for national coach of the year.

Next event: ASU/Thunderbird Invitational, ASU Karsten Course, Tempe, Ariz., April 6-7

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__4. Auburn __(NR)

Love the results from the Tigers en route to victory at The Hootie earlier this week, with three players finishing top four individually. Blayne Barber, Niclas Carlsson, Will McCurdy, Dominic Bozelli and Michael Johnson all have 72.67 or better stroke averages for the season, and Johnson didn't even travel to Bulls Bay. Only issue I have is trying to get over the fact the squad finished 30 strokes back of Alabama at the Schenkel.

Next event: Gary Koch Invitational, Old Memorial GC, Tampa, April 7-8

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__5. California (5)

__What's interesting to me about the Golden Bears' rise this year is that they're a fairly young team with only one junior (Max Homa) and no seniors regularly playing in the starting five. Still, they seem to have as much pose as Steve Desimone's recent more experienced squads. (Imagine too if Ben An hadn't turned pro after just one year in school.) Maybe not knowing how tough college golf is supposed to be is a good thing.    __

__Next event: ASU/Thunderbird Invitational, ASU Karsten Course, Tempe, Ariz., April 6-7

Women

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__1. UCLA __(1)

It will have been 24 days since the Bruins last competed when they tee off in Tempe this week. While there's potential for rust, I believe it's offset by the fact that UCLA has won at Karsten GC the past two seasons, so their local knowledge is a good as it can be for not being local.

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

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__2. Alabama __(2)

The Crimson Tide is the favorite, in my mind, this weekend in Athens, but they've got to hope that Stephanie Meadow's jetlag after being in Scotland this past weekend for GB&I Curtis Cup practice won't be an issue. I don't think it will, but the Liz Murphey field is packed with solid teams just looking for an edge.

*Next event: *Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic, U. of Georgia GC, Athens, Ga., March 30-April 1

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__3. LSU __(3)

No Austin Ernst in the lineup this week, thanks to her Kraft Nabisco appearance, and the Tigers are also one of the few schools traveling east of the Mississippi to the Arizona desert. It will be curious to see true depth of this squad as it plays with a few hurdles in the way.

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

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4. USC (4)

Playing pop psychologist here, but there's something likely liberating for the Trojans having just the five players now on their active roster. Everyone knows the deal, that they're all going to be counted on to perform. Now Andrea Gaston just has to cross her fingers that the injury bug doesn't blow her teams way between now and the end of May.

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

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__5. Auburn __(5)

At the risk of being too redundant (since I mentioned it last week), I think the Liz Murphey is a big tournament for the Tigers' psyche. The team has talent but has been in a rut their last two starts with T-8 and T-6 finishes. Will it be more of the same or more like the fall for Auburn this weekend?

*Next event: *Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic, U. of Georgia GC, Athens, Ga., March 30-April 1

STAT OF THE WEEK

1

Number of medalists in the last 19 years of the Ping/ASU Invitational, who have played for a team that wasn't a member of the Pac-12 conference. The only non-Pac-12 golfer who has won the individual title at Karsten Creek since 1992 is Purdue's Maria Hernandez in 2009.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

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](http://blog.golfdigest.com/golf-tours-news/blogs/college-golf/assets_c/2012/03/Tweet%20of%20the%20week%20%283-22-2012%29-60602.html)—Amy Ruengmateekhun, Oklahoma State sophomore

Nice to see college golfers can also be college students from time to time.

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RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK__

I love it that my 2 1/2 year old daughter is learning how to share, but why does she have to share her cold with me just days before I leave for the Masters? #daddyproblems

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WHAT TO WATCH FOR__

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  1. LSU sophomore __Austin Ernst__is flying the banner for college golf this week at the LPGA Tour's Kraft Nabisco Championship. The defending NCAA champion is among six amateurs in the field, but the other five are junior golfers, making the 20-year-old from Seneca, S.C., (right) the elder stateswoman of the group.

I'm not exactly sure how Ernst will do at Mission Hills (although I know she's already having too much fun being with the pros this week, at least judging from her Twitter feed). Regardless of her performance, the experience she is going to gain I think will be huge for her upon returning to Baton Rouge and heading into the final stretch of the 2011-12 college season. As LSU coach Karen Bahnsen will tell you, Ernst isn't afraid of hard work. Playing alongside All-American Megan McChrystal in practice last spring, and having her as a standard to measure up to, helped Ernst become the champion at College Station by season's end.  Seeing the way the professionals go about their business during practice as well as in competition will be more of the same for Ernst. She might show a laidback persona to the public, but deep down she is a big-time competitor. I think she'll be soaking up all that she learns this week and will put it to good use in the future.

  1. It's been a tough season thus far for the Wake Forest women's golf team, which fell out of the Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll last fall for the first time since February 2003 after holding the seventh longest run of appearances in the poll of any college program. In six starts to date, Dianne Dailey's squad has yet to post a top-five finish, this despite being ranked 14th in the preseason coaches' poll. What the ranking didn't take into account was that aside from senior__Cheyenne Woods__, the rest of the squad was made up primarily of freshmen and sophomores who have taken some lumps as they've tried to gain experience.

Still, the Demon Deacons can leave all that behind them in the next few weeks as they begin a three-tournament in three-week stretch this weekend at the Liz Murphey that can recast the entire tone of the 2011-12 season. After traveling to Athens, Wake then plays the Bryan National Collegiate close to home in Greensboro, N.C., April 6-8 before competing in the ACC Championship at Sedgefield CC, also in Greensboro, April 13-15.

While expecting three wins, or even one for that matter, might be a tall task, I think Woods, the defending ACC champion, is likely to will her teammates to greater heights in the coming weeks. She wants to finish her college career on a positive note and has done yeoman's work of being a mentor to the underclassmen on the squad.

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  1. The clock is ticking for Georgia senior Marta Silva Zamora (right) as her college career is winding down. So it is that this weekend's Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic has some import for the 2011 NCAA player of the year. Given that she's playing her home course and that she is the defending champion, it would seem that the event is her best chance to grab career victory No. 7 and tie former Bulldogs Vicki Goetze and Shauna Estes-Taylor on the school's all-time win list.

Meanwhile, maybe it's just me, but I think it's interesting that one of Silva Zamora chief competitors this week will be Arkansas' Emily Tubert. The Lady Razorback sophomore was runner-up at the Liz Murphey last year and is coached by ... wait for it … Estes-Taylor. Might be a little extra incentive for Tubert to try to fend off Silva Zamora to please the old coach this weekend, don't you think?

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TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS

____MEN

U.S. Intercollegiate

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

Stanford GC, Stanford, Calif.

March 30-April 1

Host: Stanford

Defending champion (2010 event): Oregon (-1/839) by three strokes over San Diego State; Oregon's Daniel Miernicki (-8/202) by three strokes over Washington's Nick Taylor

Field: Colorado, Fresno State, Nevada, Oregon, Oregon State, Pepperdine, San Diego State, San Francisco, San Jose State, Stanford, UC Davis, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State

Skinny: Tournament returns after being off the last spring's schedule with Stanford hosting an NCAA Regional at its home course.

__Insperity Augusta State Invitational

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

Forest Hills GC, Augusta, Ga.

March 31-April 1

Host: Augusta State

Defending champion: Oklahoma State (-16/848) by one stroke over Tennessee; Oklahoma State's Kevin Tway (-12/204) by five strokes over Augusta State's Olle Bengtsson

Field: Augusta State, Baylor, Clemson, Coastal Caroilna, Georgia State, Houston, Illinois, Lamar, Oklahoma State, SMU, South Carolina, Tennessee, TCU, USC Aiken, Virgnia Tech

__Skinny:__Event still comes with one of the best perks in college golf—tickets to Monday's practice round at the Masters.

__LSU National Invitational

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

University Club, Baton Rouge, La.

March 31-April 1

Host: LSU

Defending champion: LSU (+22/886) by one stroke over Chattanooga; Chattanooga's Stephan Jaeger (-7/209) by seven strokes over Iowa's Vince India

Field: Boston College, Chattanooga, Furman, Iowa, Iowa State, LSU, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Michigan, Minnesota, UNC Wilmington, Purdue

Skinny: LSU revived a year ago after a 17-year hiatus, and is looking to win the team title for the 12th time since the event was first started in 1961.

__Irish Creek Collegiate

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

The Club at Irish Creek, Kannapolis, N.C.

March 31-April 1

Host: Charlotte

Defending champion: Duke (-8/844) by seven strokes over Wake Forest; Wake Forest's Lee Bedford (-7/206) by three strokes over Middle Tennessee State's Jason Millard, Kennesaw State's Jeff Karlsson and Dukes' Yaroslav Merkulov

Field: Charlotte, Davidson, Duke, Kansas, Kent State, Louisville, Mercer, Michigan State, Northern Illinois, Queens U., Richmond, VCU, Xavier

Skinny: While Irish Creek venue hasn't given up as many red numbers in the last two years as the tournament's previous home (The Palisades), the team champion has still need a sub-par 54-hole score to claim the title. … Teams will get a tour of the Charlotte Motorspeedway and Henrick Motor Sports headquarters prior to the tournament.

__BancorpSouth Intercollegiate

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

Reunion G&CC, Madison, Miss.

April 2-3

Host: Mississippi

Defending champion: South Alabama (-5/571) by six strokes over Southern Mississippi; S.E. Louisiana's Philipp Westermann (-6/138) by one stroke over South Alabama's Lane Hulse

__Field:__Central Arkansas, Francis Marion, Jackson State, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri-Kansas City, South Alabama, S.E. Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, UT-Arlington, UAB, UCF, UNC Greensboro, Wichita State

__Skinny:__Ole Miss has yet to win the team title in this event since its first playing in 2008.

__WOMEN

Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic

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

U. of Georgia GC, Athens, Ga.

March 30-April 1

Host: Georgia

Defending champion: Florida (+25/889) by two strokes over Alabama; Georgia's Marta Silva Zamora (-4/212) by two strokes over Arkansas' Emily Tubert

Field: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Augusta State, Denver, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Kent State, Michigan State, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Purdue, South Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest

Skinny: The 40th edition of the event is being held this week. … The event returns to the standard college tournament format after experimenting a year ago with teammates playing together in fivesomes to allow the coach to follow all players.

__Ping/Arizona State Invitational

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

Karsten GC, Tempe, Ariz.

March 31-April 1

Host: Arizona State

Defending champion: UCLA (-1/863) by four strokes over USC; USC's Sophia Popov (-5/211) by two strokes over UCLA's Tiffany Lua

Field: Arizona, Arizona State, LSU, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, San Diego State, Stanford, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, UC Davis, UCLA, UNLV, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington

Skinny: Nine of the top-25 schools in the latest Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll are in the field including five of the top seven.

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