News & ToursApril 24, 2008

This week's syllabus: April 24-30

__THE FAB FIVE

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

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  1. Alabama (Last week: 1)

Five seasons in the making, coach Jay Seawell has the Crimson Tide ready for the NCAA postseason as the favorites to claim the national championship. The final-round performance at SECs from the entire team, but especially Michael Thompson (65), gives Alabama not just its first conference title in 29 years but a world of confidence.

Next event: NCAA Regionals, Site TBD, May 15-17

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  1. USC (2)

Amazingly, the Trojans might be an even hotter team than Alabama, having won three of their last four events, including a 13-stroke triumph over host Stanford last weekend at the U.S. Intercollegiate. Getting Tom Glissmeyer playing well again (T-2) makes USC the front-runner at next week's Pac-10 tournament.

Next event: Pac-10 Championship, The Meadows Club, Fairfax, Calif., April 28-30

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  1. UCLA (3)

The unique play-six, count-five format at the Pac-10s, not to mention the event being 72 holes, might be to the Bruins advantage considering the team's depth.

Next event: Pac-10 Championship, The Meadows Club, Fairfax, Calif., April 28-30

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  1. Oklahoma State (4)

More plaudits this week for super frosh Rickie Fowler, who was named to the U.S. Palmer Cup team and is a semifinalist for the Ben Hogan Award.

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

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  1. Florida State (NR)

All year long I've been telling you that playing on tough courses might be hurting the Seminoles' scoring average but helping their mental toughness quotient. After seeing FSU capture its first-ever ACC title last weekend, I've got only one other thing to say: I told you so!

Next event: NCAA Regionals, Site TBD, May 15-17


__WOMEN

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  1. Duke (1)

Blue Devil detractors will harp on how the Dukies barely won the ACC title, coming back on the 54th hole for their 13th straight conference title. Bottom line: Duke got it done, as did now three-time ACC medalist Amanda Blumenherst. Until they actually lose, it's hard to knock Duke out of the top spot.

Next event: NCAA Regionals, Site TBD, May 8-10

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  1. USC (3)

The Trojans didn't just win the Pac-10 title, they dominated the tournament, winning by 26 strokes and ending a 19-year conference victory drought. Paola Moreno, Pac-10 medalist, finally looks like she's back to her first-team All-American form from a year ago. All five starters finished in the top eight at Palos Verdes.

Next event: NCAA Regionals, Site TBD, May 8-10

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  1. Florida (2)

The Gators' SEC win last week, ending their own 13-year conference title drought, was among the most convincing of all the major conference triumphs (men's or women's).

Next event: NCAA Regionals, Site TBD, May 8-10

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  1. UCLA (4)

Before suggesting that having Maiya Tanaka in the No. 5 spot rather than Ryann O'Toole cost the Bruins at the Pac-10 Championship, consider that Tanaka's score counted in the second and third rounds. Final-round 300 at Palos Verdes is a wake-up call for UCLA.

Next event: NCAA Regionals, Site TBD, May 8-10

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  1. Purdue (NR)

The Lady Boilermakers have a two-tournament win streak heading into Big Tens. Maria Hernandez and Christel Boeljon provide a solid nucleus and freshmen Junthima Gulyanamitta and Maude-Aimee LeBlanc have come on to give Purdue depth.

Next event: Big Ten Championship, Penn State University GC, State College, Pa., April 25-27

STAT OF THE WEEK

1 stroke

Margin of victory that Jamestown (N.D.) College's Jessica Johnson won last week's Bismarck State College Invitational at Hawktree GC in Bismarck, N.D., after the freshman from Roseau, Minn., made a hole-in-one on the final hole of the tournament.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

1.) Do you remember the last time the winners of the men's and women's NCAA D-I Championships came from the same school? It was 1990 and Arizona State was the school. I bring it up because Southern California has a great chance to achieve the feat this year. The two teams are playing better than at any time this season. Of course, both will have serious challenges come nationals (Duke on the women's side, Alabama on the men's), but this is the best chance we've seen in recent years of the twin titles coming true.

2.) It's going to come down to the NCAA Championships not just to obviously crown the top teams in the country, but also the national players of the year. The women's race is still down to Amanda Blumenherst and Stacy Lewis, but I believe the men's award has three viable candidates still in the hunt:Rickie Fowler at Oklahoma State, Michael Thompson at Alabama and Webb Simpson at Wake Forest. A possible fourth could be Rory Hie or Jamie Lovemark of Southern California if one of them wins the Pac-10 title. Long story short: There's still a lot of golf left this season.

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