News & ToursSeptember 22, 2011

The Syllabus returns!

Back by popular demand (that's my story and I'm sticking to it) The Syllabus returns with my weekly look at the world of college golf. Each Thursday I'll offer some highlights from the past week and a primer for the week ahead.

Questions and comments are always welcomed.

Without further ado ... here we go for 2011-12.

               __THE FAB FIVE

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

__

Men

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__1. Auburn

__A victory at the Carpet Capital Classic (with Blayne Barber missing at the Walker Cup and coach Nick Clinard watching him over across the pond) is a nice statement for the Tigers. They they followed it up with a T-2 at Olympia Fields. It's early, but it never hurts to get off to a good start.

Next event: Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate, Old Overton Club, Vestavia Hills, Ala., Oct. 3-4

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2. Stanford

Top-five finishes from Patrick Rodgers (medalist in his first college start), Andrew Yun and Cameron Wilson helps Cardinal record impressive victory at Olympia Fields. It was a weird year in 2010-11 for Conrad Ray's group, where talent never materialized into team success. First tourney suggests it's not likely to be repeated in 2011-12.

Next event: The Prestige at PGA West, PGA West, LaQuinta, Calif., Oct. 9-10

UCLA logo 2008-09.gif

__3. UCLA

Only__Gregor Main is missing from the lineup that claimed the No. 1 seed at the NCAA Championship last June. Lots of experience is why the Bruins were No. 1 in the Golf World/Nike Golf preseason coaches' poll ... that and some guy named Patrick Cantlay.

Fall opener: The Jack Nicklaus Invitational, Muirfield Village GC, Dublin, Ohio, Oct. 10-11

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4. Oklahoma State

Finished T-2 at Olympia Fields even with senior All-American Peter Uihlein finishing last among the five starters. Could be a good sign that the new guys looking to pick up for departed All-Americans Morgan Hoffmann and Kevin Tway might make the transition more smoothly (and quickly) than expected.

Next event: Golfweek Conference Challenge, Spirit Hollow GC, Burlington, Iowa, Sept. 25-27

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__5. Arkansas

Western Amateur champion__Ethan Tracy let his solid victory this summer carry over as he helped the Razorbacks claim the team title at the Gopher Invitational with a fifth-place individual showing. Austin Cook and Sebastian Cappelen also carded T-6 finishes to suggest that Brad McMakin's crew might have some depth.

Next event: Golfweek Conference Challenge, Spirit Hollow GC, Burlington, Iowa, Sept. 25-27

__

Women__

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__1. UCLA

The Bruins begin their NCAA title defense this weekend looking like they have a deeper squad than a year ago. They'll have a chance to  show it in the opener as__Stephanie Kono and Brianna Do are AWOL playing in the second stage of LPGA Qualifying School. Tiffany Lua and Lee Lopez can provide the leadership and freshmen Erynne Lee and Kyle Roig will get to show what they've got.

Fall opener: Mason Rudolph Fall Preview, Vanderbilt Legends Club, Franklin, Tenn., Sept. 23-25

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__2. USC

Sophia Popov__ and Lisa McCloskey provide a great 1-2 combo and freshman Kristen Park could challenge them as she makes her college debut this week in Tennessee. Consistency has been USC's biggest asset in recent years and will be needed again in 2011-12.

Fall opener: Mason Rudolph Fall Preview, Vanderbilt Legends Club, Franklin, Tenn., Sept. 23-25

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3. LSU

Second straight year the Tigers have started their fall campaign in impressive fashion, claiming the title at the Cougar Classic with Austin Ernst running away with medalist honors. Only question as to whether Karen Bahnsen's team can hang with national elite is how the young back-end of her lineup holds up, particularly with a roster that right now has just six players.

Next event: Mason Rudolph Fall Preview, Vanderbilt Legends Club, Franklin, Tenn., Sept. 23-25

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4. Alabama

Not quite the start the Crimson Tide wanted in 2011-12, finishing T-7 at the Cougar Classic, but this group has too much experience in Brooke Pancake,Jennifer Kirby and Stephanie Meadow not to bounce back. With the exception of nationals last year, this Alabama group tends to step up in bigger events, which should bode well this weekend in Tennessee.

Next event: Mason Rudolph Fall Preview, Vanderbilt Legends Club, Franklin, Tenn., Sept. 23-25

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5. North Carolina

OK, I'm buying the Tar Heels early here after their second-place showing at the Cougar Classic. Held off several ranked opponents for the solid finish (and this with their top senior, Catherine O'Donnell finishing T-44). They can go a long way to proving they're legit this weekend at the Preview.

Next event: Mason Rudolph Fall Preview, Vanderbilt Legends Club, Franklin, Tenn., Sept. 23-25

__STAT OF THE WEEK, PART 1

__70,000

Number (estimated) of bees that overtook the 18th green at Waterchase GC during the final round of the UTA-Waterchase Invitational. The swarm emerged when a large limb broke off a tree near the green, exposing the bees that were living in the tree. Texas-Arlington officials decided to cancel the final round (some players had completed six holes) upon the advice of a beekeeper that was brought in to investigate the infestation. Wichita State won the shortened 36-hole event.

Here is a local TV report from a Fox affiliate about the buzzworthy event at the Fort Worth club:

__STAT OF THE WEEK, PART II

__62

Score posted by USC senior Steve Lim during his first round of qualifying at L.A. North Sept. 12. It broke the course record  (63, set previously by UCLA's Patrick Cantlay) and put him in good shape to make the travel team heading to Kikkor Husky Invitational this week.


TWEET OF THE WEEK__

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—AKA LSU's Austin Ernst, the reigning NCAA individual champion

__RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

__With all this realignment stuff going on, is there any way Baltimore can get out of the American League East?

__WHAT TO WATCH FORE!

__[#image: /photos/55ad7495add713143b425c60]|||PughRhys5345b (Web).jpg|||

  • I'm curious to watch freshman Rhys Pugh as he makes his debut this week for East Tennessee State at the Inverness Intercollegiate. Already we've seen freshman Justin Thomas from Alabama and Patrick Rodgers from Stanford win tournaments in their debut. After watching Pugh, a 17-year-old from Wales, perform exceptionally at Scotland's Royal Aberdeen, going 3-0 in helping the victorious Great Britain & Ireland team claim the Walker Cup, I think he could have a similar start. Pugh is soft-spoken, almost shy, and there might be a bit more of a acclimation period for him than the other stand-out Americans in this year's college freshmen class simply because he's coming from overseas, but he's got the game to make a impact quickly for ETSU, not unlike another Rhys that the coach Fred Warren had in Johnson City (Rhys Davies).

  • It's way too early to declare this year's NCAA women's title race to be a two-team affair, but I'll be interested to see how UCLA and USC come out of the gate at the Mason Rudolph Fall Preview this weekend. The Bruins have won twice at the Vanderbilt Legends Club (2007, 2008) and Trojans have won once (2009), so the trip East shouldn't been too taxing on the teams. Both would appear to have the deepest lineups in the country and could make statements with success starts in at the same course where the NCAA Championship will be held next May.

The spoilers here are obvious: LSU, winner of the event in 2010, claimed the Cougar Classic title earlier this month to pick up some early season momentum. Meanwhile, Alabama looked a bit flat at the Cougar, but the Crimson Tide have the experience to bounce back nicely.

Ultimately it's dangerous to read too much into a tournament that's seven-plus months away from nationals, but if Los Angeles programs are atop the leader board by day's end Sunday, a ominous tone may have been signaled for the 2011-12 season.

__TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS

____MEN

Mason Rudolph Championship

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

Vanderbilt Legends Club (South Course), Franklin, Tenn.

Sept. 23-25

Host: Vanderbilt

Field: Akron, Belmont, College of Charleston, Davidson, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Samford, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Western Carolina

Defending champion: Memphis (-10/842) by two strokes over South Carolina; Memphis' Jack Belote (-8/205) by one stroke over South Carolina's Blaine Woodruff

Skinny: First time the school is hosting the event since Rudolph's death in April.

__Golfweek Conference Challenge

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

Spirit Hollow GC, Burlington, Iowa

Sept. 25-27

Field: Arkansas, Ball State, California, Chattanooga, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Kennesaw State, New Mexico, New Mexico State, North Texas, Oklahoma State, S.E. Louisiana, Tulsa, UC Irvine, Xavier

Defending champion: Iowa (-31/833) by 15 strokes over N.C. State; Iowa's Vince India and Chris Brant (-10/206) co-medalists

Skinny: Third year for the event and no doubt its best field with two teams that already have wins in 2011-12 (Arkansas, California) and two perennial powers (Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech)

__Inverness Intercollegiate

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

Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio

Sept. 26-27

Host: Toledo

Field: East Tennessee State, Florida, Kent State, Kentucky, Liberty, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, South Alabama, Toledo

Defending champion:

Skinny: First time Rockets have hosted an event at the renowned course since fall 2008 (Ping Preview).

__Cardinal Intercollegiate

__The Cardinal Club, Simpsonville, Ky.

Sept. 26-27

Host: Louisville

Field: UALR, Austin Peay State, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Dayton, DePaul, Eastern Kentucky, Francis Marion, Illinois State, Kansas, Louisville, Marshall, Marquette, Morehead State, Murray State, Rutgers, Wisconsin

Defending champion: Miami (Ohio) (-7/857) by three strokes over Illinois State; Marshall's Aaron Boggs (-6/210) by one stroke over Kennesaw State's Jeff Karlsson

__Skinny:__Tournament should help a few teams get back into the swing of things.

__VCU Shootout

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

Hermitage CC, Manakin-Sabot, Va.

Sept. 26-27

Host: VCU

Field: Charlotte, East Carolina, Iowa State, James Madison, Maryland, North Carolina, Old Dominon, Richmond, UNC Greensboro, UNC Wilmington, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Wichita State, VCU

Defending champion: UNC Wilmington (-2/862) by one stroke over Wake Forest; Iowa State's Nate McCoy (-8/208) by 1 over UNC-Greensboro's Robert Hoadley

Skinny: Solid field with seven teams that played in last year's NCAA Championships

__Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic

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

Warren GC, South Bend, Ind.

Sept. 26-27

Host: Notre Dame

Field: Eastern Michigan, Georgetown, Houston, Lamar, Miami (Ohio), Minnesota, Missouri, Notre Dame, St. Mary's (Calif.), San Francisco, Texas-Arlington, Villanova

Defending champion: Iowa (+13/853) by six strokes over Notre Dame; San Francisco's Ji Hwan Park and Taylor Travis (-2/208) co-medalists

Skinny: Players in the field will be given blue ribbons to wear in support of colon cancer awareness. The disease took the life of ND coach Jim Kubinski in 2005.

__Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational

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

Gold Mountain GC (Olympic Course), Bremerton, Wash.

Sept. 26-27

Host: Washington

Field: BYU, Fresno State, Gonzaga, Long Beach State, Oregon, Oregon State, Pacific, Pepperdine, San Diego State, Santa Clara, SMU, Texas A&M, UC Davis, USC, Washington, Washington State

Defending champion: Pepperdine (-17/847) by seven strokes over Washington; Pepperdine's Josh Anderson (-10/206) by four strokes over Pepperdine's Andrew Putnam

Skinny: Event did a fantastic job of promoting pace of play initiatives a year ago, with the average time for each of the three rounds being no longer than 4 hours, 17 minutes. Texas A&M's Cameron Peck and Idaho's Jarred Bossio both shot closing-round 63s while playing in 4:03. Expect more of the same this year in terms of making the push to play faster.

__WOMEN

Mason Rudolph Fall Preview

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

Vanderbilt Legends Club (North Course), Franklin, Tenn.

Sept. 23-25

Host: Vanderbilt

Field: Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, California, Duke, Florida, Georgia, LSU, North Carolina, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Tulane, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia

Defending champion (Mason Rudolph): LSU (-21/843) by two strokes over Purdue;  California's Pia Halbig (-13/203) by three strokes over Wake Forest's Michelle Shin

Skinny: Schools get early look at the course that will host the NCAA Championship next May. Will be playing at par 72, 6,451 yards

__Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational

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

U. of New Mexico Championship GC, Albuquerque

Sept. 25-26

Host: New Mexico

Field: Baylor, Campbell, Colorado, Colorado State, Denver, Iowa, Iowa State, New Mexico, North Texas, Northern Arizona, Northwestern, Pepperdine, San Diego State, San Jose State, TCU, UNLV, UTEP, Wyoming

Defending champion: Oregon (+5/881) by two strokes over Ohio State; Oregon's Erica Omlid (-8/211) by one stroke over Ohio State's Rachel Rohanna

Skinny: Lobos host tournament for the 32nd time since the event became a separate tournament from the women's division of the William H. Tucker Invitational that the UNM men's team hosts.

__Badger Invitational

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

University Ridge GC, Madison, Wis.

Sept. 25-26

Host: Wisconsin

Field: Bucknell, Delaware, Drake, Georgetown, Illinois State, Illinois-Chicago, North Dakota State, SMU, Wisconsin

Defending champion: Wisconsin (+15/879) by two strokes over Augusta State; Wisconsin's Carly Werwie (-3/213) by two strokes over Xavier's Audrey Fellmeth

Skinny: Hometown Badgers set a 18- (-6/282) and 54-hole school and tournament records a year ago in the event.

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