News & ToursApril 10, 2008

This week's syllabus: April 10-16

__THE FAB FIVE

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

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  1. Alabama (Last week: 1)

A seventh-place finish at the Morris Williams wasn't the finish you're hoping for before the conference championship, but with Michael Thompson out of the line-up at the Masters, you give them a pass. That said, next week's a big one for a Crimson Tide team to validate all the regular-season success.

Next event: SEC Championship, Seaside GC, Sea Island, Ga., April 18-20

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  1. USC (2)

The amazing thing about the Trojans is their stats look pretty underwhelming: they're not in the top 15 in the country in par-3, 4 or 5 scoring. Yet the thing USC does best, though, is make birdies.

Next event: U.S. Intercollegiate, Stanford GC, Palo Alto, Calif., April 19-20

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  1. UCLA (NR)

You wondered just what was happening in Westwood with a team that won all three of its fall tournaments but hadn't been victorious this spring. Then the Bruins explode at Augusta State's event, winning by 16 and having no player shoot worse than 70 in the final round. This is the real team and they'll be playing for real the rest of the year.

Next event: U.S. Intercollegiate, Stanford GC, Palo Alto, Calif., April 19-20

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  1. Oklahoma State (5)

Another solid runner-up finish at the Morris Williams. Taking the glass half-full approach, nice to see all four players finish better than Trent Leon at the University of Texas GC after he comes off his U.S. Collegiate win.

Next event: Big 12 Championship, Whispering Pines GC, Trinity, Texas, April 25-27

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  1. Georgia (3)

The Bulldogs finish second at Augusta State's event, with Adam Mitchell quietly posting his fourth top-10 of the season and second top-four of the spring. Can't count them out but can't count on them either.

Next event: SEC Championship, Seaside GC, Sea Island, Ga., April 18-20

__WOMEN

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  1. Duke (1)

The Blue Devils will be trying to win their 13th straight ACC title next weekend. Take a second and try to think of anything you've ever done 13 straight years, aside from pay income taxes.

Next event: ACC Championship, LPGA International, Daytona Beach, Fla., April 18-20

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  1. Florida (2)

The Gators lead the country in par-5 scoring (4.93) and are in the top 10 in par-3 and par-4 scoring.

Next event: SEC Championship, Tennessee National, Loudon, Tenn., April 18-20

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  1. USC (4)

Apparently convincing victories aren't only reserved for the Trojan men's team. While beating host Arizona State by 11 strokes at the Ping/ASU Invitational last weekend, USC was 22 better than any other squad.

Next event: Pac-10 Championship, Palos Verdes GC, Palos Verdes, Calif., April 21-23

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  1. UCLA (3)

The Bruins were missing U.S. Women's Amateur champion Maria Jose Uribe but still finished in third at the Ping/ASU Invite. They are the last team not named Duke to win the NCAA title.

Next event: Pac-10 Championship, Palos Verdes GC, Palos Verdes, Calif., April 21-23

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  1. Alabama (NR)

A home win from the Crimson Tide last weekend earns them this a spot in the fifth chair at least for a week. There's really about four teams that you could put in this spot (Arizona State, Oklahoma State, Georgia and Auburn maybe). Give it to U of A because it's the second spring victory and Mic Potter's track record suggests this team won't go missing in the next few weeks.

Next event: SEC Championship, Tennessee National, Loudon, Tenn., April 18-20

STAT OF THE WEEK

13

Number of schools in the Golfstat top 100 that do not have a .500 record as of April 8 and would not qualify for an at-large bid to the NCAA regionals.

(N.C. State, Augusta State, Georgia State, Coastal Carolina, Northwestern, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Virginia, San Diego, Georgia Southern, College of Charleston, BYU, Fresno State)


WHAT TO WATCH FOR

1.) To say this weekend's ASU Thunderbird Invitational is a big event for both host Arizona State and rival Arizona is the proverbial understatement. Both perennial powers are on the bubble regarding the NCAA's ".500 rule", with ASU's record being 51-47 and U of A at 74-72-1. Considering how top-heavy the Pac-10 is, the Sun Devils and Wildcats need to perform well this weekend in Tempe to give themselves a cushion before the conference championship.

2.) Another school trying to figure out the new landscape with the ".500 rule" is Vanderbilt. The Commodores are 68-68-1 with the SEC Championship left. Given how tough the conference is, the chances of a low finish are real, dropping him below the .500 mark, but coach Tom Shaw has one more day of competition left in his back pocket. He has thought about trying to hold a one-day event with various Division I programs in the state of Tennessee, enough teams to get him back over .500. "I'm not sure what we could pull off," Shaw said. Stay tuned.

  1. A couple weeks ago I pitched Tennessee's Chris Paisley as a dark-horse player of the year candidate. I've got a new bandwagon I'd like to jump on in Boise State's Troy Merritt. The senior from Fridley, Minn. won his third straight tournament and fifth of the season (a school record) this week at the Wyoming Cowboy Classic. Merritt now has a 69.2 stroke average, the best in Division I golf. He doesn't play at a powerhouse school, which keeps him under the radar for the most part, but you have to be impressed with the guy's competitiveness.

__UPCOMING TOURNAMENTS

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River Landing Intercollegiate

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

River Landing CC (River Course; par 72, 7,112 yards)

Wallace, N.C.

April 11-13

Host: N.C. State

Field: Duke, East Carolina, Florida State, Houston, Kansas, Liberty, Maryland, Memphis, Navy, North Carolina, N.C. State, Rice, Tulsa, Virginia, Wake Forest

Defending champion: Charlotte (12-under 852) by two strokes over Tulsa; Mitch Cohlmia, Tulsa (eight-under 208) by one stroke over Charlotte's Jonas Enander Hedin

Skinny: The event moves away from the Triangle area in North Carolina to Wallace for this year and next.

ASU Thunderbird Invitational

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

ASU Karsten Course

Tempe, Ariz.

April 11-13

Host: Arizona State

Field: Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, California, Colorado State, Connecticut, CSU-Northridge, Denver, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pacific, San Diego State, Texas A&M, UC-Irvine

Defending champion: Oregon (20-under 844) by three strokes over Arizona State; Charlie Beljan (15-under 201) by three strokes over Oregon's Derek Sipe

Skinny: The Ducks came out of nowhere to claim last year's title. In that vein, I think you could see a non-tradition winner of this annual desert classic. Look for the Aggies of A&M or the Aztecs of San Diego State to shine.

Fighting Illini Spring Invitational

Stone Creek GC

Urbana, Ill.

April 12-13

Host: Illinois

Field: Bradley, DePaul, Detroit Mercy, Eastern Illinois, IUPUI, Illinois, Illinois State, Loyola (Ill.), Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, Western Illinois

Defending champion: New event

Skinny: The tournament is the first the Fighting Illini have hosted on their home course since 1987. Illinois coach Mike Small decided to host the event, which has eight of the 11 Division I schools from the state that have men's golf programs in the field, in an effort to rekindle the tradition of a "state championship" which once was on the college calendar.

Robert Kepler Intercollegiate

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

Scarlet Course at Ohio State (Par 71, 7,455 yards)

Columbus, Ohio

April 12-13

Host: Ohio State

Field: Colorado, Furman, Iowa, Kent State, Louisville, Marshall, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, SMU, UNC-Wilmington, Wisconsin

Defending champion: Louisville (23-over 591) by nine strokes over Michigan State; Matt Harmon, Michigan State (even-par 142) by two strokes over Louisville's Derek Fathauer

Skinny: The tournament celebrates its 39th year with the usual roster of midwestern schools. The host Buckeyes have won the event 23 times with Kent State and Northwestern the next closest of teams in the field with three.

Palisades Collegiate Classic

Palisades CC

Charlotte, N.C.

April 15-16

Host: Charlotte

Field: Augusta State, Belmont Abbey, Campbell, Charlotte, Davidson, Francis Marion, Eastern Michigan, Marquette, Nebraska, Old Dominion, UNC Greensboro, USC Upstate, Virginia Commonwealth, Xavier

Defending champion: Charlotte (15-under 849) by seven strokes over Lamar; Brad Benjamin, Memphis (nine-under 207) by two strokes over Mississippi's Callum Macaulay and Lamar's Dawie VanderWalt.

Skinny: The home town 49ers is the heavy favorite here. Emphasis on HEAVY!


__WOMEN

Peg Barnard California Collegiate__

Stanford GC (Par 71, 6,117 yards)

Stanford, Calif.

April 11-12

Host: Stanford

Field: California, Chattanooga, Colorado, Fresno State, Hawaii, Long Beach State, Oregon State, Portland State, San Jose State, UC-Davis, UC-Irvine, Washington, Washington State

Defending champion: Stanford (four-over 572) by four strokes over Denver; Kay Hoey, Long Beach State (eight-under 134) by three strokes over Stanford's Lauren Todd

Skinny: Perhaps no team is more in need for a little home-cooking than the Stanford women, who have had just one top-five finish in seven tournaments starts this season.

Conference Championships (More on them next week)

MEN

West Coast Conference, Chambers Bay GC, University Place, Wash., April 14-15

WOMEN

Missouri Valley Conference, Oak Hills CC, Omaha, Neb., April 13-15

West Coast Conference, Chambers Bay GC, University Place, Wash., April 14-15

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