News & ToursApril 14, 2011

This Week's Syllabus: April 14-20

__FAB FIVE

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

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1. Oklahoma State (Last week: 1)

Stretch run truly begins now for the Cowboys, who will have their entire roster available for the rest of the season. Even when the team has sputtered (see final round at Augusta State), there's not much panic with this group. Feels like they're playing out the string, but there's a matter of pride that proves to be a nice intangible with this bunch.

Next event: Aggie Invitational, Traditions Club, Bryan, Texas, April 16-17

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2. Alabama (2)

The Crimson Tide have been a impressive team to watch all season. What will be interesting, however, is to see how they handle their first tournament with real meaning to it. Bud Cauley knows of collegiate pressure, but how with Cory Whitsett or Bobby Wyatt handle it? I think they're respond fine, but you never know.

Next event: SEC Championship, Sea Island GC, Sea Island, Ga., April 15-17

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3. LSU (4)

All the early talk this spring was on Alabama and Florida, so LSU kind of got to mature without any real pressure on the players. Sure enough, the Tigers now come off back-to-back victories entering the conference championship. While most people know of John Peterson, the guy who really might determine the team's fate is__Andrew Loupe__, who hasn't finished outside of the top 10 in a tournament since October.

*Next event: *SEC Championship, Sea Island GC, Sea Island, Ga., April 15-17

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4. UCLA (3)

The Bruins always give you a good effort, even if they don't win. The cliche is that they're trying to get better every day, but you genuinely believe that's happening in Westwood. One more tune-up before the Pac-10s I think we'll have them ready for the postseason.

Next event: Western Intercollegiate, Pasatiempo GC, Santa Cruz, Calif., April 16-17__

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__5. Auburn (NR)

The Tigers feel to me a little like Florida State from a year ago.Nick Clinard has a group that's talented and exuberant and isn't going to get overwhelmed by the fact that they might be new to the national scene. They believe they belong. We'll get to see if that belief is merited starting this weekend along the Georgia coast.

__Next event: SEC Championship, Sea Island GC, Sea Island, Ga., April 15-17

WOMEN[

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1. Alabama (Last week: 4)

Saw the bounce back I was curious about when the Crimson Tide won the Liz Murphey Collegiate. Better yet, there is still room for improvement for Jennifer Kirby and Camila Lennarth. Meanwhile,Stephanie Meadow is trying to play her way not only into national freshman-of-the-year honors, but player-of-the-year consideration.

Next event: SEC Championship, Auburn University Club, Auburn, Ala., April 15-17

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2. UCLA (3)

Victory at the Ping/ASU event makes five wins at Karsten GC since 2005 and two in the last 12 months. Oh, and guess where they're playing the Pac-10 Championship next week. Can you have a home course advantage when it's not actually your home course?

Next event: Pac-10 Championship, Karsten GC, Tempe, Ariz., April 17-19

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3. USC (1)

The Trojans have yet to finish outside the top three all season, a sign that this team never takes a week off. Lisa McCloskey,Lizette Salas and Sophia Popov all are capable of winning the individual title, and in turn should give UCLA and the rest of the Pac-10 a run for their money in the desert this week.

Next event: Pac-10 Championship, Karsten GC, Tempe, Ariz., April 17-19

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4. Purdue (2)

If the Midwest weather caused a slow start for the Boilermakers this spring, that's behind them as they have played impressively in March and look like a heavy favorite for their fourth straight conference title. And is defending their NCAA championship a long shot? Hardly.

Next event: Big Ten Championship, Lake Shore CC, Glencoe, Ill., April 22-24

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5. Arkansas (NR)

The Ladybacks victory at the LSU Golf Classic hinted that this team was worth keeping an eye on, even with a rough end to the fall and tough start to the spring. Shauna Estes is a coach that can get more out of her players than you might expect. They're long shots to be victorious in the postseason, but wouldn't be a surprise winner.

Next event: SEC Championship, Auburn University Club, Auburn, Ala., April 15-17

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STAT OF THE WEEK

3

Number of individual champions of the four-year-old Aggie Invitational who current are members of the PGA Tour. New Mexico's__Spencer Levin and Oklahoma's Anthony Kim shared the title in 2006 while Oklahoma State's Rickie Fowler won in 2009.

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RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

__Can you believe it's already mid-April. Where did 2011 go already?

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WHAT TO WATCH FOR

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  • Considering all the impressive women's golfers that have played in the Pac-10 over time (Annika Sorenstam,Grace Park,Wendy Ward and Lorena Ochoa to name only a few), it's pretty amazing to think that it wasn't until Arizona State's Carlota Ciganda won her second straight individual conference title last year that there had ever been a repeat champion. (Or maybe it's exactly because there have been so many impressive women's golfers that have played in the Pac-10, but I digress). Ciganda (right) now will pursue an unprecedented third straight title, and do so on her home course of Karsten GC in Tempe. You of course have to like her chances, although there are so many top players in the conference again this year that it's not going to be an easy feat. Should she accomplish it, however, it's going to be time to try to figure out Ciganda's legacy with ASU golf. The Spanard's quiet demeanor has perhaps caused people to neglect how good a player she's been for the Sun Devils.

  • There might be no more entertaining tournament all year, save the NCAA Championship, than the SEC Men's Championship. Trying to predict what might happen at Sea Island GC is a fool's errand. Alabama and Florida might be the favorites, but LSU, Arkansas and Auburn are on the rise this spring, and Georgia might seem down by their own standards but they have won the title three of the past five years, and two of the last four held at Sea Island. And should Tennessee or Mississippi actually throw a low number on the board, would there be any real shock in that feat? Meanwhile the individual title should be an even more compelling race with any of a dozen players having a puncher's chance to win (six of the top 15 D-I played in the Golfstat Cup ranking are in the field). Needless to say, I'm going to have one eye on Sea Island all weekend.

__TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS

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Ping Golf Cougar Classic

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

Riverside CC, Provo, Utah

April 15-16

Host: BYU

Field: Air Force, Boise State, BYU, Colorado State, Fresno State, Idaho, Nevada, Northern Colorado, Pacific, Southern Utah, UC Davis, UNLV, UTEP, Utah, Utah State, Washington State, Weber State, Wyoming

Defending champion: Colorado State (-14/850) by two strokes over BYU; Nevada's Jared Becher (-10/206) by two strokes over Augusta State's Patrick Reed and Nevada's Scott Smith

Skinny: The tournament celebrates its 49th playing, with BYU having played the role of good team/poor host 30 times, including victories for 20 straight years between 1969-88.

__SEC Championship

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

Sea Island GC (Seaside), Sea Island, Ga.

April 15-17

Field: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt

Defending champion: Georgia (+4/844) by five strokes over Florida and Mississippi; Georgia's Russell Henley (-6/204) in playoff over South Carolina's George Bryan IV

Skinny: Wide open affair with as many as a half dozen teams (Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU) with realistic shots at winning plus a sleeper in Tennessee, runner-up a few weeks ago at the Insperity Augusta State Invite.

__Aggie Invitational

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

Traditions Club, Bryan, Texas

April 16-17

Host: Texas A&M

Field: Baylor, Kent State, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, SMU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tulsa, UT San Antonio

Defending champions: Texas A&M (-38/1,042) by 21 strokes over Oklahoma State; Texas A&M's Jordan Russell (-10/206) by one stroke over Texas A&M's Geoff Shaw

Skinny: Tournament will follow a play six, count five format. Fan interested in keeping up with the action can follow the event on Twitter (@AggieInvite)

__Hawkeye-Taylor Made Invitational

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

Finkbine GC, Iowa City, Iowa

April 16-17

Host: Iowa

Field: Charlotte, Eastern Michigan, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Miami (Ohio), Missouri, Nebraska, North Texas, Wichita State

Defending champion: Iowa (-1/863) by 12 strokes over Miami (Ohio); UMKC's Alex Hogben (-7/209) by six strokes over Drake's Brad Reierson and Western Illinois's Kyle Peterman

Skinny: Missouri's perfect spring record (four wins in four starts) will get tested by the host Hawkeyes, who rank No. 14 in the latest Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll.

__Illini Spring Classic

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

Stone Creek GC, Urbana, Ill.

April 16-17

Host: Illinois

Field: Akron, Creighton, Illinois, Illinois State, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Xavier

Skinny: All Big Ten schools save Iowa (which hosts its own event this week) are in the field at Illinois, giving the event a true conference feel.

__Western Intercollegiate

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

Pasatiempo GC, Santa Cruz, Calif.

April 16-17

Host: San Jose State

Field: Arizona State, Augusta State, California, Colorado, Denver, Hawaii, New Mexico State, Oregon, San Diego State, San Jose State, Stanford, UC Irvine, UCLA, USC, Washington

Defending champion: Oregon (-12) by seven stroke over UCLA; Oregon's Eugene Wong (-8) by three strokes over Oregon's John Paton

Skinny: Beautiful Alister Mackenzie design remains a classic course fitting a tournament with the rich tradition of the Western.

__Wolfpack Spring Intercollegiate

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

Lonnie Poole GC, Raleigh, N.C.

April 16-17

Host: N.C. State

Field: Binghamton, Francis Marion, George Mason, Lamar, Longwood, Louisiana-Monroe, Maryland, North Carolina, N.C. State, Old Dominion, Penn, Richmond

Defending champion: North Carolina (+8/860) by seven strokes over Duke; Duke's Adam Long (+1/214) by one strokes over four others.

Skinny: Time for the Wolfpack to build a little confidence after a spring season that hasn't matched up with their solid play in the fall.

__Yellow Jacket Classic

__GC of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga.

April 16-17

Host: Georgia Tech

Field: UAB, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, UNC Wilmington, Troy

Defending champion: New event

Skinny: Low key tune-up for the five schools in the field, with the tournament scheduled for 36 holes.

__Big East Championship

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

Innisbrook Resort & GC, Palm Harbor, Fla.

April 17-19

Field: Cincinnati, Connecticut, De Paul, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Rutgers, St. John's, Seton Hall, South Florida, Villanova

Defending champion: Georgetown (+21/873) by one stroke over Notre Dame; Georgetown's Vincenzo Salina (+2/215) over Notre Dame's Max Scodro, Notre Dame's Tom Usher and St. John's Evan Beirne

Skinny: Only one school in the field (Notre Dame) is ranked inside the top 100 in the Golfstat rankings. Suffice it to say, you know who the favorite is here.

__Southern Conference Championship

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

CC of South Carolina, Florence, S.C.

April 17-19

Field: Appalachian State, Chattanooga, College of Charleston, Davidson, Elon, Furman, Georgia Southern, Samford, UNC-Greensboro, Western Carolina, Wofford

Defending champion: Furman (-15/849) by 16 strokes over Georgia Southern; Furman's Austin Reeves (-9/207) by five strokes over three players

Skinny: Chattanooga is looking for its fourth title in five years, but will have to hold off Furman and Georgia Southern.

__Summit League Championship

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

Primm Valley GC, Primm, Nev.

April 18-19

Field: Centenary, IPFW, IUPUI, UMKC, North Dakota State, Oakland, Oral Roberts, South Dakota State, Southern Utah, Western Illinois

Defending champion: Oral Roberts (+33/885) by one stroke over UMKC; UMKC's Korbin Kuehn (+3/216) in playoff over Oral Roberts' David Holtgrewe

Skinny: Holtgrewe, a freshman walk-on, was only playing in his fourth college event when he helped win the team title for Oral Roberts last year, and nearly claimed medalist honors.

__West Coast Conference Championship

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

San Juan Oaks GC, Hollister, Calif.

April 18-19

Field: Gonzaga, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, Portland, Saint Mary's (Calif.), San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara

Defending champion: Pepperdine (+23/887) by five strokes over San Diego; San Diego's Gunner Wiebe (E/216) by two strokes over Pepperdine's Carl Smith IV

Skinny: There hasn't been a repeat conference winner since Pepperdine in 2005, so the Waves have their work cut out for them.

__Atlantic Sun Championship

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

Chateau Elan Resort, Braselton, Ga.

April 18-20

Field: Belmont, Campbell, East Tennessee State, Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, Mercer, North Florida, Stetson, USC Upstate

Defending champion: East Tennessee State (-5/859) by four strokes over Florida Gulf Coast; East Tennessee State's Seamus Power (-6/210) by three strokes over Florida Gulf Coast's Brandon Pena

Skinny: Kennesaw State has the best Golfstat team ranking among the teams in the field, but has never won the A-Sun title.

__Big South Conference Championship

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

The Patriot GC, Ninty-Six, S.C.

April 18-20

Field: Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb, High Point, Liberty, Presbyterian, Radford, Winthrop

Defending champion: Coastal Carolina (+4/868) by four strokes over Charleston Southern; Liberty's Robert Karlsson (-7/209) by two strokes over Charleston Southern's Kelvin Day

Skinny: The last time Coastal Carolina didn't win the conference crown was 2003; the last time anyone other than Coastal and Charleston Southern won was 1996.

__WOMEN

Mountain West Conference Championship

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

Wigwam Resort, Phoenix

April 14-16

Field: BYU, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, TCU, UNLV, Wyoming

Defending champion: New Mexico (+34/898) by nine strokes over TCU; New Mexico's Jodi Ewart (+1/217) by four strokes over TCU's Rachel Raastad

Skinny: The tournament has never been as wide open as it would appear to be this year, with BYU, New Mexico, SDSU, TCU and UNLV all ranked between 34 and 52 by Golfstat.

__ACC Championship

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

Sedgefield CC, Greensboro, N.C.

April 15-17

Field: Boston College, Duke, Florida State, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia, Wake Forest

Defending champion: Wake Forest (+17/869) by four strokes over Virginia; Wake Forest's Michelle Shin (-2) by one  stroke over Virginia's Brittany Altomare and Calle Nielson

Skinny: Is this the year a school from outside the state of North Carolina finally wins the team title? Only Duke (16 wins), Wake Forest (5) and North Carolina (1) have claimed victories in the event.

__SEC Championship

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

Auburn University Club, Auburn, Ala.

April 15-17

Field: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt

Defending champion: Alabama (-4/848) by four strokes over Vanderbilt; Vanderbilt's Marina Alex (-5/208) in playoff over Tennessee's Erica Popson

Skinny: The host Tigers have had a difficult season on the course, but could local knowledge help them be a surprise winner and potentially spoil rival Alabama's hopes of repeating as champions?

__WAC Championship

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

Longbow GC, Mesa, Ariz.

April 15-17

Field: Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico State, San Jose State

Defending champion: San Jose State (+66/918) by one stroke over Hawaii; Fresno State's Hali Coppin (+8/221) by two strokes over Hawaii's Kaili Britos

Skinny: SJSU coach John Dormann says his squad is playing as well as it has all year. Three-peat possibilities seem good.

__Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational

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

Ohio State University Scarlet Course, Columbus, Ohio

April 16-17

Host: Ohio State

Field: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kent State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Xavier

Defending champion: Ohio State (+56/920) by 14 strokes over Michigan State; Michigan State's Laura Kueny (+11/227) by one stroke over Ohio State's Rachel Rohanna

Skinny: Host Buckeyes will try to win third straight title at home and their first of the 2010-11 season.

__Big East Championship

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

Innisbrook Resort & GC, Palm Harbor, Fla.

April 17-19

Field: Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, Rutgers, St. John's, South Florida,

Defending champion: Louisville (+56/920) by eight strokes over South Florida; Louisville's Sara-Maude Juneau (+4/220) by six strokes over Notre Dame's Annie Brophy and South Florida's Shena Yang

Skinny: With all due respect to the other schools in the field, this is a two-team fight between Louisville and Notre Dame.

__Big West Championship

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

San Luis Obispo CC, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

April 17-19

Field: Cal Poly, CSU Fullerton, CSU Northridge, Long Beach State, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside

Defending champion: UC Davis (+36/900) by 19 strokes over Long Beach State; UC Davis' Chelsea Stelzmiller (+8/ 224) in a three-hole playoff over UC Davis' Amy Simanton

Skinny: UC Davis is heavy favorite to be repeat winner, having been ranked in the Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll since March.

__Conference USA Championship

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

Pensisula GC, Gulf Shores, Fla.

April 17-19

Field: UAB, East Carolina, Marshall, Memphis, SMU, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Tulsa, UCF, UTEP

Defending champion: Tulane (+6/858) by 14 strokes over East Carolina; Tulane's Ashley McKenney (-3/210) by two strokes over three players

__Skinny:__Tulane remains a great story of a program overcoming the destruction of Hurricane Katrina to return to national prominence. You just wonder when their conference foes are finally going to say enough is enough.

__Pac-10 Championship

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

Karsten GC, Tempe, Ariz.

April 17-19

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

Defending champion: Arizona (+14/878) by three strokes over UCLA; Arizona State's Carlota Ciganda (-2/214) in a playoff over Arizona State's Juliana Murcia

Skinny: The strange events of last year's championship, when Arizona State had to withdraw because two players got sick, is the back drop for the Sun Devils as they host this year's championship.

__Southern Conference Championship

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

Moss Creek (North), Hilton Head, S.C.

April 17-19

Field: Appalachian State, Chattanooga, The Citadel, College of Charleston, Elon, Furman, Samford, UNC Greensboro, Western Carolina, Wofford

Defending champion: Chattanooga (+38/902) by eight strokes over College of Charleston; Appalachian State's Yue Xu (+1/217) by three strokes over Chattanooga's Emma de Groot

Skinny: Something tells me de Groot gets a little revenge this week after last year's runner-up finish and wins her sixth individual title.

__Summit League Championship

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

Primm Valley GC, Primm, Nev.

April 18-19

Field: Centenary, IPFW, IUPUI, North Dakota State, Oakland, Oral Roberts, South Dakota State, Southern Utah, Western Illinois, UMKC

Defending champion: Oral Roberts (+80/113) by 33 strokes over South Dakota State; Oral Roberts' Amber Hensley (+15/228) by one stroke over North Dakota State's Amy Anderson

Skinny: If I had to pick an individual player that is the most likely to win her conference championship, I'd pick Amy Anderson of North Dakota State in this spot.

__West Coast Conference Championship

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

San Juan Oaks GC, Hollister, Calif.

April 18-19

Field: Gonzaga, Pepperdine, Portland, San Francisco, Santa Clara

Defending champion: Pepperdine (+42/906) by 32 strokes over San Francisco; Pepperdine's Lisa McCloskey (+9/225) by two strokes over Pepperdine's Danielle Kang.

Skinny: The Waves have won the last nine WCC titles by an average margin of 26.5 strokes. And each time the second place team has been San Francisco.

__Big Sky Championship

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

Ocotillo Golf Resort, Chandler, Ariz.

April 18-20

Field: Eastern Washington, Idaho State, Montana, Montana State, Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado, Portland State, Sacramento State, Weber State

Defending champion: Portland State (+36/900) by two strokes over Sacramento State; Northern Arizona's Stephanie Kim (E/216)  by four strokes over Northern Arizona's Megan Buck

__Skinny:__Stephanie Kim enters the championship as the conference's recently named player of the year.

__Southland Conference Championship

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

Corpus Christi CC, Corpus Christi, Texas

April 18-20

Field: Central Arkansas, Lamar, McNeese State, Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Texas State, UT-San Antonio

Defending champion: Texas State (+33/885) by two strokes over Central Arkansas and Sam Houston State; Central Arkansas' Rebecca Sorensen (E/213) by six strokes over four players

Skinny: UTSA, in the conference since 2005, has arguably its best shot at winning its first Southland title.

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Sun Belt Conference Championship

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

RTJ GC at The Shoals, Muscle Shoals, Ala.

April 18-20

Field: Arkansas State, Arkansas-Little Rock, Denver, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Louisiana Monroe, Middle Tennessee State, North Texas, South Alabama, Troy, Western Kentucky

Defending champion: Denver (+1/865) by 34 stroke over Middle Tennessee State; Denver's Kimberly Kim (-1/215) by one stroke over Denver's Ellie Givens

Skinny: It's been a down year for Denver, the seven-time Sun Belt champs having fallen out of the national rankings. Not down enough, however, to keep from making it eight in a row.

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