News & ToursOctober 3, 2013

The Syllabus: Same old, same old (sort of)

By Ryan Herrington

Forgive me for channeling my inner Yogi Berra, but it's feeling like deja vu all over again in college golf.

The headlines from this week were that the California men claimed the title at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational (photo below courtesy of Cal athletics) and the USC women won at the Windy City Collegiate.

Sounds familiar doesn't it?

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I say this without any judgement. It doesn't matter to me who really wins the events, I'm just rooting for the good stories.

I'm not exactly sure I'd characterize how things played out at the Windy City as a "good" story but it became an interesting one down the stretch. The top-ranked Trojans had the tournament in hand during Tuesday's final round at Northmoor CC in Highland Park, Ill. Doris Chen shot a one-under 70, Karen Chung a one-over 72, Kyung Kim a 73 (the first time she hadn't broken 70 this season) and Annie Park an even-par 70. It meant USC had outpaced runner-up Oklahoma State by seven strokes and would break its school record for most consecutive victories with five dating back to last spring.

However, everything changed when it was discovered that Park, the 2013 NCAA player of the year, mistakenly signed an incorrect scorecard, writing down a 4 when she shot a 5 on the 10th hole. Immediately upon learning of her mistake, and knowing she would be disqualified, Park asked her coaches whether it might cost the team the title.

With Park's 71 thrown out, the team had to count Gabriella Then's 76. Even with the extra five strokes on USC's final-round score, the Trojans still walked off with a two-stroke triumph.

It will certainly be a lesson learned for Park moving forward, as she will no doubt be particularly careful when adding them up in the future. Whether the DQ, however, will have a different kind of impact down the road is still to be determined. Park would have had a top-five individual finish in the event, which would have helped her when post-season honors are determined next spring. Instead, the DQ could effect her ranking for the year, making it a costly mistake even if it didn't change the outcome of the team competition.

               __FAB FIVE

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

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  1. California (Last week: 3)

The Golden Bears continue to be living a life of sunshine and sprinkles, with the Jack Nicklaus victory the latest in a series of impressive performances. Meanwhile, it doesn't take a degree from Berkeley to realize Brandon Hagy might be trying to prove a point that he was worthy of being more than an alternate on the U.S. Walker Cup team this past summer with the start to the season he has had—a first, a second and a third in three events.

*Next event: *Alister MacKenzie Invitational, Sonoma GC, Sonoma, Calif., Oct. 14-15 __

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2. Alabama (1)

If I hear __Jay Seawell __start saying "you know the biggest improvement the golf team is going to have is between the first and second start of the season" I'll know Nick Saban has brainwashed everybody in Tuscaloosa.

Next event: Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate, Old Overton GC, Vestavia Hills, Ala., Oct. 7-8

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3. Georgia Tech (2)

The Yellow Jackets play this weekend looking for a third straight victory to start the season in an event that they have won once (2011) and finished second two times. If Tech pulls off the third win, it will be the first time the team has posted back-to-back-to-back victories since March 2002.

Next event: Brickyard Collegiate, The Brickyard at Riverside, Macon, Ga., Oct. 4-6

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4. Georgia (NR)

With a runner-up finish at the Carpet Capital and a victory at the Dick's Sporting Goods Collegiate Challenge Cup, the Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 by Golfstat. Even if you think that might be a little high, it's hard to quibble with the start that Chris Haack's squad has put together as it looks to defend its title at the Brickyard.

Next event: Brickyard Collegiate, The Brickyard at Riverside, Macon, Ga., Oct. 4-6

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5. Washington (4)

It's early, so the sample size is small, but you've got to like the Huskies' 70.47 average to date. Oh and the 74.73 average drop score. If the squad can keep this up, big things are in store.

Next event: U.S. Collegiate Championship, GC of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga., Oct. 18-20

__WOMEN

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1. USC (1)

This isn't meant as a back-handed compliment, but I am surprised the Trojans record for consecutive victories was only four events until the win at the Windy City Collegiate this week. I feel like Andrea Gaston's squads have won so much over the years this number would have been a little higher.

Next event: Stanford Intercollegiate, Stanford GC, Stanford, Calif., Oct. 25-27

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__2. UCLA __(2)

Curious to see how Bruins junior Erynne Lee does this year as the team looks to her to take on a leadership role. She's impressed me ever since I saw her reach the semifinals of the U.S. Women's Amateur as a 15-year-old in 2008. Her game always seems to be improving.

Next event: Betsy Rawls Invitational, U. of Texas GC, Austin, Texas, Oct. 13-15

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__3. Oklahoma __(3)

Going to be interesting to see how the Sooners handle success this season. OU is going to be among the favorite in many of the events it will compete in, including the home tournament it hosts this weekend. How does this senior-laden group handle the pressure?

Next event: The Schooner Fall Classic at Belmar, Belmar GC, Norman, Okla., Oct. 5-7

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4. Pepperdine (NR)

In six rounds of play thus far in 2013-14, the Waves have been in the lead at the end of all six, winning the Dick McGuire Invitational and Golfweek Conference Challenge (by 36 strokes). There have been a lot of impressive players that have come through Malibu and played for Laurie Gibbs, but Grace Na, who claimed her fifth career individual title at the Golfweek event, has the potential to be the best of the lot.

Next event: The Schooner Fall Classic at Belmar, Belmar GC, Norman, Okla., Oct. 5-7

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__5. Arkansas __(4)

Most impressive part of the solid start to the season for the Lady Razorbacks is that the team leader in stroke average for the first two rounds isn't Emily Tubert, Emma Lavy or Gaby Lopez but sophomore Regina Plasencia (69.60). Speaks to the squad's depth.

Next event: Ruth's Chris Tar Heel Invitational, UNC Finley Course, Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 11-13

__STAT OF THE WEEK

__7

Number of consecutive times a California men's golf has been named Pac-12 player of the month, dating back to the 2012-13 season. Brandon Hagy continued the streak when he was named the top player in September after finishing third, second and first in his first three events. Last season Max Homa and Michael Kim each claimed the honor twice and Joel Stalter earned it another time. Hagy also won the honor in April 2012 to close out the 2011-12 season.

Since the Pac-12 started naming a top player each month, no other school has had a male player win the honor more than two straight times (Washington's Nick Taylor and Darren Wallace in March and April 2009).

The lighter side of Cal golf also is in display in the November issue of Golf Digest, where Homa, Hagy, Kim and Michael Weaver posed for an article about the program.

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Photo by Andrew Brusso

__TWEET OF THE WEEK

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—Georgia women's coach Josh Brewer

*Great news out of Auburn was being spread with well-wishes from around the college golf community. According to the Rally for Coach Kim Evans Facebook page, the latest CT scan for the Tigers women's coach, who was diagnosed in May with ovarian cancer, showed no signs of the disease.  *

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RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

__Keeping up with your Twitter feed is this generation's equivalent of balancing a check book. It's a lot easier said than done.

__WHAT TO WATCH FOR

__* Army men's coach Brian Watts is excited to be hosting the Stars & Stripes Invitational this weekend at West Point GC, the event serving as a de facto fall preview for teams in the Patriot League with the conference championship being held there next April. However, for a while this week Watts was under the impression the event would have to be cancelled because of the shutdown of the federal government after Congress failed to pass a budget or a continuing resolution before Oct. 1.

In the wake of the shutdown, the Department of Defense sent out a directive saying it was temporarily suspending sports competitions at all service academies. Watts hoped the budget impasse would be resolved in time for the tournament, set for Oct. 6-7. But as it dragged on, Watts was told Wednesday night that the tournament would have to be cancelled. On Thursday morning, however, Watts received word the event was back on schedule, as were all other Army sporting events for the weekend, with the temporary suspension at least partially rescinded.

The news wasn't so good, however, for Air Force. The men's golf team was scheduled to play in the Brickyard Collegiate in Georgia starting Friday but was forced to withdraw from the event because of the suspension.

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TOURNAMENTS TO WATCH

MEN

Brickyard Collegiate Championship

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

The Brickyard, Macon, Ga.

Oct. 4-6

Host: Mercer

__Defending champion:__Georgia (-16/848) by 14 strokes over Georgia Tech; Georgia's Sam Straka and Georgia Southern's Jonathan Grey (-8/208)

__David Toms Intercollegiate

__The University Club, Baton Rouge, La.

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

Oct. 5-6

Host: LSU

Defending champion: LSU (+33/897) by eight strokes over South Alabama; LSU's Andrew Presley (+4/220) by one stroke over South Alabama's Michael Garretson and LSU's Smylie Kaufman

__The McDonald Cup

__Yale U. GC, New Haven, Conn.

Oct. 5-6

Host: Yale

Defending champion: Yale (+4/564) by three strokes over Hartford and St. John's (N.Y.); Notre Dame's Niall Platt (-2/138) by one stroke over five players

__Stars and Stripes Invitational

__West Point GC, West Point, N.Y.

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

Oct. 6-7

Host: Army

Defending champion: New event

__Erin Hills Intercollegiate

__Erin Hills GC, Erin, Wis.

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

Oct. 6-8

Host: Marquette

Defending champion: New event

__Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate

__Old Overton GC, Vestiva Hills, Ala.

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

Oct. 7-8

Host: Alabama

Defending champion: Alabama (+17/857) by four strokes over Florida; Alabama's Justin Thomas (-2/208) by one stroke over Auburn's Michael Johnson

__Wolfpack Intercollegiate

__Lonnie Poole GC, Raleigh, N.C.

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

Oct. 7-8

Host: N.C. State

Defending champion: North Carolina (-10/854) by 10 strokes over East Carolina; North Carolina's Brandon Dalinka (-6/210) by four strokes over North Carolina's Clark Palmer and Western Carolina's J.T. Poston

__Firestone Invitational

__Firestone CC (North), Akron, Ohio

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

Oct. 7-8

Host: Akron

Defending champion: Ball State (-7/569) by 13 strokes over St. Mary's (Calif.); Maryland's Sean Bosdosh (-5/139) by one stroke over Ball State's Tyler Merkel

__WOMEN

__The Schooner Fall Classic

Belmar GC, Norman, Okla.

Oct. 5-7

Host: Oklahoma

Defending champion: New event (previously hosted Susie Maxwell Berning Classic in fall)

__CSU Wendy's Invitational

__Rivertowne CC, Charleston, S.C.

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

Oct. 7-8

Host: Charleston Southern

Defending champion: Richmond (+29/893) by 12 strokes over Wofford; Richmond's Tracy Martin (-1/215) by two strokes over Armstrong Atlantic's Jenna Birch

__Lady Pirate Intercollegiate

__Greenville CC, Greenville, N.C.

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

Oct. 7-8

Host: East Carolina

Defending champion: Maryland (+7/295) in tiebreaker over UNC Wilmington; Maryland's Juliet Vongphoumy (-4/68) by two strokes over Boston College's Cristina McQuiston

__Price's Give Em Five Intercollegiate

__New Mexico State U. GC, Las Cruces, N.M.

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

Oct. 8-9

Host: New Mexico State

Defending champion: Kansas (+7/871) by 10 strokes over Washington State; Kansas' Yupaporn Kawinpakorn (-3/213) by three strokes over Idaho's Kaitlyn Oster

__Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational

__Sahalee CC, Sammamish, Wash.

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

Oct. 8-9

Host: Washington

Defending champion: Washington (+22/886) by 14 strokes over UC Davis; Washington's SooBin Kim (-11/205) by 12 strokes over three players

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