News & ToursMarch 22, 2012

The Syllabus: Wither Q school


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


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1.____Texas (Last week: 2)

It was a home game at the Morris Williams, but the Longhorns didn't just squeak out a win, either. The 16-stroke victory over New Mexico, with Julio Vegas,Jordan Spieth and Dylan Frittelli all sharing medalist honors suggests that there is still lots of life left in these boys from Austin. I also like the perspective from coach John Fields afterwards: "We needed to re-group; we did. We can enjoy this for the next day or so then start preparing for the next one."

Next event: Insperity Augusta State Invitational, Forest Hills GC, Augusta, Ga., March 31-April 1

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2. Alabama__ __(5)

OK, now that got our attention. A 22-stroke victory at the Schenkel, including record setting 18-hole and 54-hole scores certainly suggests that the mediocre play in Las Vegas the previous week was an fluke. The Crimson Tide isn't going to be perfect every week, but most weeks they're going to be pretty damn good.

Next event: Linger Longer Invitational, The Great Waters course at Reynolds Plantation, Eatonton, Ga., March 24-25

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__3. UNLV __(1)

The Rebels missed out on win No. 6 of the season by a measly one stroke at the NIT. Ordinarily that wouldn't drop you two spots in the Fab Five, but the efforts of their competition weren't ordinary last week. Like I wrote when dropping UT from the No. 1 spot, this shouldn't be construed as a loss of faith in UNLV's skills, just an acknowledgment there are several very good teams out there.

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


__4. Arkansas __(NR)

If five stroke-play victories wasn't enough to get the college golf world's attention, the Razorbacks decided to claim a match-play title too, holding true to their No. 1 seed and winning the Callaway Collegiate Match Play. Six titles in a year is a school record, but you get the feeling that isn't really what's motivating Brad McMakin's squad these days.

Next event: The Woodslands All-American Intercollegiate, The Woodlands GC, The Woodlands, Texas, April 9-10

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__5. California (3)

__The third-place showing at the Callaway Match Play isn't a bad finish, but considering the run the Bears have been on of late, it's probably disappointing. Still, Cal isn't likely to sneak up on its competition any more, an interesting turn of events as the Pac-12 Championship looms only a month away.    __

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


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__1. UCLA __(1)

The Bruins adjusted average score, according to Golfstat, is 72.44; that's a third of a stroke better than the next best school (Alabama). Moreover, the Bruins average drop score, according to Golfstat, is 75.80; that's almost 1.5 strokes better than the next best school (also Alabama). Moral of the story: UCLA might not win every tournament it plays in, but it's never going to be out of the hunt.

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

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__2. Alabama __(2)

A one-stroke loss to Florida at the Gator Women's Invite was hard to swallow with the Crimson Tide having thrown some shots away down the stretch. The outcome, however, might serve as better motivation for Mic Potter's squad as the spring season starts winding down.

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

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__3. LSU __(3)

In the Tigers three spring events, they've won by two strokes (Puerto Rico), finished three strokes back (fourth at Central District) and finished two strokes back (at LSU). The close tournaments would seem to be great experience should the postseason events get tight down the stretch.

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

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4. USC (NR)

It took a little while, but the Trojans finally grabbed their first team title of the 2011-12 season at Rancho Bernardo. Even more important for USC fans is that Sophia Popov claimed medalist honors. If the German native can return to her All-American form from a year ago, there will be two Los Angeles squads challenging for titles later this spring.

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

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__5. Auburn __(5)

For all the promise of the fall, and the victory in the first start of the spring, the road of late has been a bit bumpy for the Tigers. That puts a little more emphasis on the Liz Murphey to help Kim Evans' squad re-group before attempting to defend their SEC title next month. Interesting days ahead.

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



Number of schools ranked in latest Golf World/Nike Golf men's Division I coaches poll that have not won a tournament thus far in the 2011-12 season. The only program without a victory is No. 25 Oklahoma State. The other 24 schools have a combined 55 victories this season, or an average of 2.29 per school.


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—Jay Moseley, Kennesaw State men's coach

I'm a sucker for inspirational quotes.



It's not that often that one event makes me feel so happy and sad at the same time, but today is the last day that Geoff Russell is the editor-in-chief at Golf World. He's been a great friend and mentor, so I'm sad to see him go, but I'm happy for him and his family as he moves on to work at the Golf Channel. Thanks for everything. Going to miss watching golf on Sunday afternoons with you.



  • The news made this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational regarding changes to PGA Tour Qualifying School should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the debate on the matter for the past several months (particularly if they've been reading the fine reporting from The Associated Press' Doug Ferguson and Golfweek's Sean Martin). The PGA Tour's Policy Board approved the recommendation that would eliminate the ability to earn a PGA Tour card at Q school starting in 2013, instead handing out tickets to the big leagues exclusively via a three-tournament series of events under the Nationwide Tour umbrella.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem noted last Tuesday that there are many details still to be worked out regarding exactly how the new system will ultimately work. The possibility still exists that college golfers, or those players fresh out of school, might be able to earn their way into the three-tournament series based on performances in PGA and Nationwide Tour events played earlier in the calendar year as both professionals and amateurs. Chances are, however, the ultimate outcome will be very limited in terms of options for these young players. Throughout the entire matter the PGA Tour has shown few signs that it would be overly accommodating to its next generation of golfers. It's been almost shameful to see how insular a group the tour has demonstrated itself to be.

There is a major irony in how the tour professes that the golf public has come to appreciate the fine young players such as Rickie Fowler,Dustin Johnson,Webb Simpson,Bud Cauley and the like, and what the tour is doing here with Q school. By making it almost impossible to be able to earn a PGA Tour card straight out of college, essentially forcing players to compete on the Nationwide Tour for at least one year, the PGA Tour is actually making it harder for these fresh faces to emerge on the big stage. The excuse that, well many golfers could use the seasoning of a year (or more) on the Nationwide Tour before playing the PGA Tour, sounds noble, but since when do players need to be protected from themselves? Sure there are young guns who says they're happy in hindsight that they missed out on earning a PGA Tour card the first time through Q school, but what about those who succeeded early in playing on the PGA Tour ... why shouldn't they be given this opportunity? (Or more important why should they have that opportunity taken away?)

The ramifications of the tour's decision to change Q school, in my mind, are two-fold. The short-term issue will be how many college players decide that the one last chance to earn a PGA Tour card in Q school this coming fall is too great to pass up, so they turn pro sometime between now and the fall? I think that number won't be outrageous, but will be substantial. The obvious names to follow in this would be UCLA's Patrick Cantlay, Texas'Jordan Spieth, Auburn's__Blayne Barber__ and Washington's Chris Williams. Others you might wonder about (and I write this having not talked to any of them personally on this matter) would be Alabama's Cory Whitsett, Stanford's__Andrew Yun__ and UCLA's Pontus Widegren.

Long-term, I'm not sure what impact the Q-school change will have, aside from making it more difficult for players who achieve their dream of playing on the PGA Tour. I've read a few stories in recent weeks that describe a gloomy scenario regarding the impact the change will have on  amateur golf. I do wonder about that, specifically if we'll see more players turn pro right after the college season ends rather than remain amateurs in the summer and play the full slate of amateur events on the schedule. The thought there is that players will want to try to get into Nationwide Tour and PGA Tour events as pros to accumulate enough money to qualify for the three-tournament series where they can earn a PGA Tour card. My gut says yes, more will turn pro earlier, but that that number won't amount to a shocking one.

The thing that's likely hurt the most is the Walker Cup, as American players who were willing to wait around as amateurs in the summer to play on the team, then turn pro immediately afterward to prepare for Q school, might now be looking at alternative plans.

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  • When I saw Lauren Stratton's score in the final round of the LSU Golf Classic two weeks ago, a 14-over 86, I knew something had to be up. The Vanderbilt junior has had a transformational season on the course in 2011-12--dropping her stroke average prior to the tournament to 71.65 from 75.1 as a sophomore. Her worst 18-hole score this season had been a 75. Sure enough, there was an explanation, and a painful one at that:

Kidney stones.

Stratton mentioned to Vandy coach Greg Allen the morning of the final round that her stomach didn't feel 100 percent, but they both figured it was a bug or something minor. Allen even joked that once when Stratton didn't feel well before a round at Stanford, she shot a 67.

Of course an 86 isn't a 67. After the round, the team took a bus home to Nashville, but as it was traveling through Mississippi, it had to make a detour to the nearest hospital.

"She was in the back of the bus and started screaming and crying with this massive pain in her side," Allen said.

Initial thoughts were that perhaps Stratton's appendix had burst. But upon reaching the hospital, the diagnosis was less dire but no less painful.

Having still yet to pass the stone in the days after the tournament, Stratton underwent a procedure Tuesday to help speed the process. According to Allen, the surgery was quick and successful.

The good news--and I say this from experience having passed five kidney stones in the 1990s--is that while temporarily uncomfortable, the stones pose little long term issue. Now that it has passed, Stratton should be able to resume playing golf with no trouble and should be ready for action for the Lady Commodores next event, the Ping ASU Invitational next weekend.

But will the stone have a negative effect on Stratton's impressive season? The final-round 86 caused her season stroke average to jump nearly a full stroke, to 72.40. Allen hopes that when year-end honors are determined, the circumstances surrounding Stratton's bump in her road will be taken into account.

"Selfishly as a coach I wish she would have withdrawn that day instead of firing an 86," Allen said. "I know she's worked her tail off to get [to where she is]. She has some pretty lofty goals this year. Unfortunately she has to count an 86. Ranking wise, I don't know how it will affect her. If I know Stratty, it's just going to motivate her more when she comes back next week to get ready for ASU."

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  • While there is no obvious front runner just yet for men's college player-of-the-week honors, there could be a dark-horse candidate emerging in the next few weeks. With victories in his last two starts (claimed within five days of each other to boot), San Diego State senior J.J. Spaun has to feel like he's carrying some momentum into the Barona Collegiate Cup, which begins today. Should he win the tournament, which the Aztecs host each year and which Spaun finished T-2 a year ago, the 21-year-old from San Dimas, Calif., would become just the third golfer in school history to record three wins in one calendar year, joining Greg Twiggs (1983) and Kevin Riley (1990).

Looking even farther into the future, if Spaun were to keep his winning streak going, his next start would come at the ASU/Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., a venue in which he has had previous success as well. Spaun is the two-time defending champion in the event. Suffice it to say, winning four consecutive tournament titles this late into the spring would warrant a lot of interest for post-season accolades.




__Barona Collegiate Cup

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

Barona Creek GC, Lakeside, Calif.

March 22-23

Host: San Diego State

Defending champion: San Diego State (-1/1,079) by seven strokes over San Diego; UC Santa Barbara's Glen Scher (-7/209) by one stroke over San Diego State's J.J. Spahn and Nevada's Scott Smith

Field: Arizona, Central Connecticut State, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Illinois, Kent State, Loyola Marymount, North Texas, Northwestern, Pacific, Pepperdine, San Diego State, St. Mary's (Calif.), TCU, USC, Utah

Skinny: Tournament follows a play-six, count-five format.

__Desert Shootout

__Palm Valley GC, Goodyear, Ariz.

March 22-24

Host: Denver

Defending champion: Oklahoma (-48/816) by 22 strokes over Iowa State; Oklahoma's Abraham Ancer (-21/195) by six strokes over Oklahoma's Will Kropp

Field: Air Force, Boise State, BYU, Creighton, Denver, Idaho, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico State, San Diego, Southern Utah, Tulsa, Wichita State

Skinny: They don't call this event a shootout for nothing. Winning team 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 have all need to be 19 under or better to claim title.

__FAU Spring Break Championship

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

The Fountains GC, Lake Worth, Fla.

March 23-25

Host: Florida Atlantic

Defending champion: Ohio State (-12/852) by 11 strokes over Florida Atlantic; Ohio State's Brad Smith (-8/208) by three strokes Florida Gulf Coast's Alex Medinis and DePaul's Moritz Ackerhans

Field: Connecticut, DePaul, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida State, Jacksonville State, Marshall, Miami (Ohio), Michigan State, Minnesota, Murray State, Northern Illinois, Ohio State, South Florida, Xavier

Skinny: Ohio State has good vibes from their performance here last year, but Florida State is setting up nicely to grab its first win of the 2011-12 season.

[__Linger Longer Invitational


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

The Great Waters course at Reynolds Plantation, Eatonton, Ga.

March 24-25

Host: Mercer/Kennesaw State

Defending champion: Alabama (-18/846) by 18 strokes over Chattanooga; Alabama's Cory Whitsett (-13/203) by one stroke over Alabama's Bud Cauley

Field: Alabama, Charleston Southern, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Georgia, Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Liberty, Mercer, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, South Alabama

Skinny: With all due respect for the rest of the field, Alabama might be the safest picks to win this title of any tournament that's been played this spring. The Crimson Tide keep rolling.

[__Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate


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

Bulls Bay GC, Awendaw, S.C.

March 25-27

Host: Bulls Bay GC

Defending champion: LSU (-3/849) by one stroke over Augusta State; N.C. State's Mitchell Sutton (-6/207) in playoff over LSU's Andrew Loupe

Field: Auburn, Augusta State, College of Charleston, Kentucky, LSU Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, N.C. State, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Virginia, Wake Forest, Wisconsin, Wofford

Skinny: LSU is looking to "ride the bull" and win the team title for a third straight time. Meanwhile, all schools will be challenged by the new greens the club put in in the last year and some changes to the bunkering and rough.

__The Duck Invitational

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

Eugene CC, Eugene, Ore.

March 26-27

Host: Oregon

Defending champion: Oklahoma State (-16/848) by eight strokes over Oregon; Washington's Chris Williams (-9/207) by two strokes over Oregon State's Alex Moore and Rice's Michael Whitehead

Field: Boise State, Central Oklahoma, Colorado, Gonzaga, Long Beach State, Oregon, Oregon State, San Jose State, Santa Clara, St. Mary's (Calif.), UC Davis

Skinny: The host Ducks have had a disappointing spring season after impressing many in the fall. Could the home environment help them get their quack back?


Mountain View Collegiate

__Mountain View GC, Tucson

March 23-24

Host: Missouri

Defending champion: Iowa State (-7/857) by six strokes over Oklahoma; Arkansas' Emily Tubert (-9/207) by five strokes over Iowa State's Prima Thammaraks



__UNCW Lady Seahawk Classic

__River Landing CC, Wallace, N.C.

March 24-25

Host: UNC Wilmington

Defending champion: East Carolina (+27/603) by 13 strokes over Old Dominion; East Carolina's Fanny Wolte (+4/148) by two strokes over James Madison's Catrine Gunnarsson and Old Dominion's Elizabeth Haycock

Field: Bucknell, Charleston Southern, East Carolina, High Point, James Madison, Longwood, Marshall, Old Dominion, UNC Wilmington, William & Mary, Winthrop

Skinny: Fanny Wolte is looking to become just the second golfer to win the individual title more than once and the first to be a repeat champion.

__John Kirk/Panther Intercollegiate

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

Eagles Landing CC, Stockbridge, Ga.

March 26-27

Host: Georgia State

Defending champion: Notre Dame (+24/888) by 17 strokes over Maryland; Daytona State's Mitsuki Katahira (-6/210) by one stroke over Notre Dame's Becca Huffer

Field: Campbell, Daytona State, East Tennessee State, Furman, Georgia State, Jacksonville State, Maryland, Mississippi State, Murray State, Nova Southeastern, Western Carolina

Skinny: Could Nova Southeastern, the three-time Division II NCAA champs playing with just four golfers in the lineup, contend for the title? Not sure I'd bet against it.

__Anteater Invitational

__Dove Canyon CC, Dove Canyon, Calif.

March 26-27

Host: UC Irvine

Defending champion: Portland State (+38/890) by six strokes over Nevada; Portland State's Lauren Taylor (+5/218) by two strokes over Nevada's Joyce Chong and Idaho's Kayla Mortellaro

Field: Boise State, BYU, CSU Fullerton, CSU Northridge, Delaware, Idaho, Long Beach State, Montana, Portland State, Sacramento State, San Francisco, Santa Clara, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, Washington State

Skinny: The host Anteaters are trying to win their home event for the first time since 2007.

__Anuenue Spring Break Classic

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

The Bay Course, Kapalua, Hawaii

March 26-27

Host: Hawaii

Defending champion: New event

Field: California, Colorado, Fresno State, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Oregon State, Osaka Gakuin, Pepperdine, Seattle, Tennessee, UT San Antonio

Skinny: One last trip to Hawaii for the mainland schools before the postseason arrives.

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