News & Tours
April 26, 2012

The Syllabus: Pac-Attack!!

__THE FAB FIVE

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

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1.____Texas (Last week: 1)

The Longhorns have clearly separated themselves from not just the rest of the Big 12 but the country as the biggest tournaments of the season loom. That doesn't mean, however, there aren't other qualified teams waiting to pounce if UT isn't playing up to par. But it does mean that they can have an off day and still bounce back. I think they're the only school in the country that can say that right now.

Next event: Big 12 Championship, Whispering Pines CC, Trinity, Texas, April 27-29

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2. Alabama__ __(2)

Most impressive part of the was the fact that when Auburn started to rally on Sunday and things looked like they might slip away, Crimson Tide's SEC title win last weekendJay Seawell's boys didn't get tight. Shows the guys might have grown since Las Vegas tourney. Meanwhile, freshman__Justin Thomas__ continues to look more impressive with each start. Three wins, five top-threes should make him large part of player-of-year discussions.

Next event: NCAA Regionals, May 17-19

__3. Auburn __(4)

Final-round push at SECs came up short, but that doesn't mean they weren't impressive. The Tigers have no give up, which will suit them well come May. A little short-game work in the coming weeks is in order, per coach Nick Clinard, but otherwise this is a team that has every right to be thinking NCAA title.

Next event: NCAA Regionals, May 17-19

__4. UCLA (NR)

__The Bruins remind me a lof of last year's Georgia team that have appeared at times to be playing to the level of its competition, so to speak. Meaning that regular-season college events haven't necessarily gotten the squad fired up. Now that we're competing for the important hardware, however, my guess is that this group is going to step things up and show just how talented they really are.

Next event: Pac-12 Championship, Trysting Tree GC, Corvallis, Ore., April 27-29

__5. California (5)

The Bears haven't finished worse than fifth all season, but that was the finish in their last event (the Western) and it was in a similar "play six, count five" format to what they'll be competing in at the Pac-12s. Still, says here that Steve Desimone will use it as motivation in Corvallis.

__Next event: Pac-12 Championship, Trysting Tree GC, Corvallis, Ore., April 27-29

Women

__1. UCLA __(1)

The Bruins never seem uptight—EVER. Just look at the Tweets from Tiffany Lua and the rest of her teammates as they were heading to Pullman for this weekend's Pac-12s. The thing is, they're loose on the course too, which ultimately is their greatest asset.

Next event: Pac-12 Championship, Palouse Ridge GC, Pullman, Wash., April 27-29

__2. Alabama __(2)

The disappointment of a third-place finish at SECs can be channeled in one of two ways: determination to make sure it doesn't happen again or disillusionment that they let another title slip away. My hunch is that Brooke Pancake and her teammates to follow the first path, but the second one is sadly tempting.

Next event: NCAA Regional, May 10-12

3. USC (3)

The Trojans look to defend their conference title this weekend but are going to need improved play from Sophia Popov. The good news is she's got to have good vibes from her performance in this event last year, where she claimed medalist honors. Conversely,Lisa McCloskey needs to get over the memory of the rib injury she suffered at conference last year that sidelined her for the entire postseason.

Next event: Pac-12 Championship, Palouse Ridge GC, Pullman, Wash., April 27-29

__4. Auburn __(NR)

The Tigers winning their ninth SEC title last weekend wasn't a shock—the team had won three tournaments in the fall—but it was a surprise given the way they'd been performing of late. It's yet another example of how Kim Evans can coach up a team as well as anyone in the women's game. If there's one coach out there who

Next event: NCAA Regional, May 10-12

5. Duke (5)

Remember when the Duke men's basketball team won the NCAA title in 2010 despite not having the deepest Blue Devils roster in Mike Krzyzewski? Dan Brooks then might be able to take some solace given that he has a solid squad that when at its peak could perform as well as any school in the country, but relies a lot on__Lindy Duncan__ to give them that shot. Still, you can't rule out this squad just yet.

Next event: NCAA Regional, May 10-12

STAT OF THE WEEK

__42.8

__[#image: /photos/55ad74c7add713143b425f10]|||Patricia Sanz head shot.jpeg|||

The percentage of top-14 finishes during her four-year career at Auburn that Patricia Sanz has had at the SEC Women's Championship. Seven times total as the Spanish native posted top-14s while in college, but three have come in the conference title test, including a T-6 showing as a freshman, T-14 as a junior and a victory last weekend at Blessings GC near Fayetteville, Ark., Sanz' first college win. Sanz' previous best performance this season was a T-16 at the Landfall Tradition.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

—Blayne Barber, Auburn junior

This is the second straight year that Barber has played for the U.S. team

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RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK__

I'll be happy that the NFL Draft finally gets started tonight. I found myself going through grocery story the other day doing a "mock draft" of the foods that I should buy.

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WHAT TO WATCH FOR__

1. I can hardly remember a conference championship I'm more excited for than this weekend's Pac-12 Men's Championship. UCLA, California, Oregon, Stanford, USC, Washington can all make legitimate claims to being the league's best, and they all get to prove it at Trysting Tree GC in Corvallis. Every time I talk to one of these coaches, when I'm off the phone I'm convinced their team is the best ... only to talk to a different coach who sways me toward their team. I'm happy that none of these six schools is hosting this year, so that the potential for local knowledge doesn't have an undo influence on the outcome (see next point).

2. The Big Ten holds the men's and women's championships this weekend at French Lick Resort in French Lick, Ind., the first time they've been played at a neutral site in more than two decades. I wrote about this topic last year, and I continue to personally wrestle with the notion of moving conference championships away from college courses to neutral sites that balance out any advantages a "home" team might have. I think, however, I'm swaying toward the neutral-site route, in part because of what almost took place last weekend at the SEC Women's Championship.

All due respect to Arkansas and coach Shauna Estes-Taylor, but her Razorbacks squad had just one top-five finish all season and had finished worse than 10th in four of eight tournaments, yet nearly won the SEC crown in part because the event was held at Blessings GC, one of the team's home courses. Could their performance be an indication that the team has gotten better and might have happened at any location? Perhaps. I can't rule that out for certain. I also can't help but think, however, that Arkansas had a distinct edge because of its familiarity with the course. When you're talking about a tournament as prestigious and important as the SEC Championship—or any conference championship for that matter—I'm not sure I like the fact that there isn't a "level" playing field for all the teams involved. So it is that I'm looking forward to what the Big Ten teams have to say about going neutral this year.

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TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS

__MEN

__Ping Golf Cougar Classic

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

Riverside CC, Provo, Utah

April 27-28

Host: BYU

Defending champion: Colorado State (-17/847) by four strokes over UNLV; BYU's Zachery Blair (-11/205) by one stroke over Pacific's Alex Edfort

Field: Air Force, Boise State, BYU, Colorado State, Southern Utah, UNLV, Utah State, Wyoming

__Skinny:__The tournament is being held for the 50th consecutive year with the host Cougars having won the team title 33 times.

__Big Ten Championship

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

The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort, French Lick, Ind.

April 27-29

Defending champion: Illinois (+8/1,160) by 19 strokes over Northwestern; Illinois' Luke Guthrie (-1/287) by one stroke over Iowa's Chris Brant

Field: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

__Skinny:__If the three-time defending champion Fighting Illini win title again, they'll become just the third program to win conference crown four straight years, joining Michigan (1932-36) and Ohio State (1976-80, 1982-87)

__Pac-12 Championship

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

Trysting Tree GC, Corvallis, Ore.

April 27-29

__Defending champion:__USC (+15/1,415) in playoff over Oregon; USC's Martin Trainer (-5/275) in playoff over Oregon State's Alex Moore

Field: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State

__Skinny:__Love the 72-hole format for the conference title, plus the play six, count five wrinkle rewards teams with true depth.

__Big 12 Championship

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

Whispering Pines GC, Trinity, Texas

April 27-29

Defending champion: Oklahoma State (+19/1,139) by 13 strokes over Texas A&M; Oklahoma State's Morgan Hoffmann (E/280) by five strokes over Oklahoma State's Kevin Tway

Field: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech

__Skinny:__Oklahoma State is the five-time defending champion but must finish seventh or better to be eligible for the NCAA postseason.

__WOMEN

Big Ten Championship

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

The Donald Ross Course at French Lick Resort, French Lick, Ind.

April 27-29

Defending champion: Michigan State (+33/1,185) in playoff over Purdue; Purdue's Numa Gulyanamitta (-1/287) by three strokes over Northwestern's Lauren Weaver

Field: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

__Skinny:__Ohio State is the top ranked team entering the tournament according to Golfstat. The Buckeyes haven't won the Big Ten title since 2005, the longest drought in the conference championship in the programs history.

__Big 12 Championship

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

Lawrence CC, Lawrence, Kan.

April 27-29

Defending champion: Texas (+8/872) by three strokes over Texas A&M; Texas' Madison Pressel (-8/206) by five strokes over Oklahoma State's Josephine Janson and Texas A&M's Katerina Ruzickova

Field: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech

__Skinny:__Baylor, No. 17 in the latest Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll, has the potential to make history; only three programs have won the Big 12 Championship since it was first held in 1997 (Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M).

__Pac-12 Championship

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

Palouse Ridge GC, Pullman, Wash.

April 27-29

Defending champion: USC (E/864) by five strokes over Arizona; USC's Sophia Popov (-6/210) in playoff over UCLA's Tiffany Lua

Field: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State

__Skinny:__The Bruins might be the favorites this week but no player on their roster has ever one a Pac-10/12 title as UCLA last claimed the conference title in 2006.