News & ToursApril 3, 2008

This week's syllabus: April 3-9

__THE FAB FIVE

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

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  1. Alabama (Last week: 1)

The Crimson Tide roll to Texas for the Morris Williams without Michael Thompson, whose busy playing some tournament in Georgia. Coach Jay Seawell's challenge is to make sure his other players' minds are focused on the event in Austin.

Next event: Morris Williams Intercollegiate, University of Texas GC, Austin, Texas, April 7-8

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  1. USC (2)

The Trojans' bandwagon is picking up speed as they prepare for the regular season finale and then the Pac-10 Championship in back-to-back weeks. Count me as a passenger.

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

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  1. Georgia (3)

Not sure what to tell you about the Jekyll and Hyde team. I'm not sure coach Chris Haack knows what to tell you either.

Next event: The Administaff Augusta State Invitational, Champions Retreat GC, Evans, Ga., April 4-6

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  1. Charlotte (4)

The late dates for the Atlantic 10 Championship (May 2-4) will allow the 49ers to get two more regular-season starts in, starting with their home tournament. Meanwhile, the Charlotte's strong play just helped its coach, Jamie Green, sign a long-term contract extension through 2011. He becomes the first coach in school history to get a long-term deal in a sport other than basketball.

Next event: Palisades Collegiate, Palisades CC, Charlotte, N.C., April 14-15

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Oklahomastatelogolatest

  1. Oklahoma State (NR)

I dropped Tennessee out of this spot from last week after thinking again about the Cowboys' second-place finish at the U.S. Collegiate. Mike McGraw needs more than just Rickie Fowler and Trent Leon playing well to have success in the postseason, but it's a pretty good start. Leon, meanwhile, backed up his first college win with a third-place showing at the Azalea Invitational last weekend, suggesting he is truly starting to find his form.

Next event: Morris Williams Intercollegiate, University of Texas GC, Austin, Texas, April 7-8

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WOMEN____

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  1. Duke (1)

The problem with being a dynasty is handling expectations. Anything other than a win is a disappointment and leads some to wonder if it's the start of a slide. I'm not sure how a second-place finish at a strong tournament like the Bryan Park National should cause some humans (or computers used by rival magazines) to drop the Blue Devils out of the top spot. Particular when Duke is 4-1 head-to-head versus the team that is replacing it (UCLA).

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

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  1. Florida (4)

It's not just that the Gators beat Duke by two strokes to win the Bryan Park National last week that impresses. It's the fact they came back on the final day to beat them, in difficult weather conditions.

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

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  1. UCLA (2)

This week in Tempe will be a good test for the Bruins as they're missing Maria Jose Uribe, who is playing at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Says here UCLA is plenty deep enough to do well without her.

Next event: Ping/ASU Invitational, ASU Karsten Cse., Tempe, Ariz., April 4-6

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  1. USC (3)

According to Golfstat, the Trojans have hit 81.9 percent of their fairways this year. I'm not questioning the math; I'm just trying to appreciate the accomplishment.

Next event: Ping/ASU Invitational, ASU Karsten Cse., Tempe, Ariz., April 4-6

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  1. Oklahoma State (5)

The Cowgirls may be inconsistent (only four top-five finishes in nine tournaments this year) but when they're on they can beat any team in the country. Having had success in the desert earlier this spring, I think we'll be "on" again this weekend in Tempe.

Next event: Ping/ASU Invitational, ASU Karsten Cse., Tempe, Ariz., April 4-6



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STAT OF THE WEEK, Part I

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Number of tournaments the UCLA men's gold team (varsity) has played in the state of Georgia during the 2007-08 season after this weekend's event in Augusta, Ga. (Callaway Match Play at Reynolds Plantation, U.S. Collegiate at the GC of Georgia)

__STAT OF THE WEEK, Part II

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Number of tournaments the UCLA men's gold team (varsity) has played in the state of California during the 2007-08 season (CordeValle Collegiate)

(The last number does have a caveat: The Bruins ext two tournaments are back home, at the U.S. Intercollegiate in Palo Alto and at the Pac-10 Championship in Fairfax, Calif.)

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WHAT TO WATCH FOR__

1.) How are the college kids going to do in the majors? It's all I get asked this time of year, with the Kraft Nabisco and the Masters allowing a few deserving amateurs to crash their parties.

The interesting thing is that out at Mission Hills CC in California, we've seem the female amateurs/collegians not just soak in the experience but actually perform in the spotlight (see the T-5 finish from Arkansas' Stacy Lewis a year ago). Ultimately, I think the odds are very good that out of Duke's Amanda Blumenherst, Arizona's Alison Walshe, UCLA's Maria Jose Uribe and Kentucky's Mallory Blackwelder, at least three of the four will make the cut, with Blumenherst perhaps even posting a top-15 finish. It's not like she hasn't done it in a major previously; she did finish T-10 at the U.S. Women's Open in 2006. (For a Kraft Nabisco leader board, click here.)

As for Alabama's Michael Thompson and Virginia Tech's Drew Weaver, the lone collegians playing at Augusta National, the challenge of making the cut is much more difficult. (No amateur has done so since 2005). I like the way Thompson has been playing of late, so I give him a very good chance at playing all four rounds in the Masters. (He's going to have his former coach at Tulane, Tom Shaw, on the bag.) Weaver, who will be playing in the college event that Augusta State hosts this weekend before going over the Masters, I'm less certain of. Forget the fact he lost the Georgia Cup match with Colt Knost on Tuesday. I just wonder if he might be a little fatigued at this point, with lots of competition in recent weeks.

2.) If Stanford is to repeat as men's NCAA champions this season, the Cardinal will do it without All-American Joseph Bramlett in the lineup. Despite the rehab work he's put in this spring, the sophomore's injured right wrist (bruised bone and possible ligament tear) continues to be a problem. It doesn't look like he will be back to hitting balls for at least another few weeks if not months.

Bramlett hasn't played since last November's CordeValle Collegiate. A year ago, he had a 71.5 average in 13 tournaments, posting seven top-10 finishes.

3.) Slightly off the college golf front, but it will be interesting how former long-time Cowboy men's golf coach/ current school athletic director/chair of the NCAA D-I men's golf committee Mike Holder does as he goes through the search process for a men's basketball coach in Stillwater after the resignation earlier this week of Sean Sutton. It's the first hire in a major sport since Holder took over as AD in the fall of 2005. Holder offered one of his gems earlier this week:

"Are you asking me if I have a list (of coaching candidates) in my top drawer? No, I don't, I've got a list of golf coaches."

__UPCOMING TOURNAMENTS

MEN

The Administaff ASU Invitational __

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

Champions Retreat GC (Island/Creek) (Par 72, 7,403 yards)

Augusta, Ga.

April 4-6

Host: Augusta State

Field: Augusta State, Clemson, Coastal Carolina, East Tennessee State, Georgia, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Houston, Lamar, Minnesota, North Carolina, N.C. State, South Carolina, USC-Aiken, Tennessee, UCLA, Virginia Tech

Defending champion: Coastal Carolina (11-under 853) by one stroke over N.C. State; Dustin Johnson, Coastal Carolina (12-under 204) by six over North Carolina's Reed Darsie, South Carolina's George Bryan IV and Houston's Jordan Irwin

Skinny: The tournament, held annually the weekend prior to that other event in Augusta, Ga., turns 30 this year and has a field with seven teams ranked in the top-25 of the most recent Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll. Coastal Carolina looks to become just the second school to win the event three straight years, with host Augusta State having done it twice (1986-88, 1998-2001).

Yale Spring Opener

Yale University GC (Par 70, 6,749 yards)

New Haven, Conn.

April 5-6

Host: Yale

Field: Bryant, Canisius, Central Connecticut, Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Drexel, Fordham, Harvard, Hofstra, Iona, Johnson & Wales, Lafayette, La Salle, Manhattan, MIT, Providence, Rutgers, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, Skidmore, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, Yale

Defending champion: Hartford and Johnson & Wales (37-over 597); Jason Parajeckas, Connecticut (two-over 142) by one over Johnson & Wales' David Vanegas

Skinny: It might not be the toughest field of any spring tournament, but the two-day, 36-hole event is played on one of the great college golf courses in the country. Yale also still has more NCAA golf titles than any school with 21, although the last was in 1943.

Morris Williams Intercollegiate

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

University of Texas GC

Austin, Texas

April 6-7

Host: Texas

Field: Alabama, Auburn, BYU, Central Florida, Fresno State, Louisville, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Pepperdine, TCU, Texas Tech, San Diego, UNLV

Defending champion: UNLV (eight-under 568) by six strokes over Texas A&M and Tulsa (event shortened by rain); Ryan Henry, Tulsa, Austin Schauer, Texas A&M and Steve Saunders, New Mexico (five-under 139)

Skinny: The 41-year-old event moves from Austin CC to the Longhorns' home course, something the host school hopes it can take advantage of considering Texas has a 66-75-3 (.469) record this season and is among the teams in danger of missing the NCAA postseason because of not meeting the new .500 rule.

UMB Bank-Mizzou Tiger Intercollegiate

The Club at Old Hawthorne (Par 72, 7,221 yards)

Columbia, Mo.

April 7-8

Host: Missouri

Field: Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas State, Missouri, Michigan, Michigan State, San Jose State, Washington, Wichita State, Xavier

Defending champion: First year

Skinny: The two-year-old facility is the new home to the Tigers' men's and women's and this marks the first time it has hosted a men's college tournament.

Bank of America Intercollegiate

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

Reunion G&CC

Madison, Miss.

April 7-8

Host: Mississippi

Field: Alabama-Birmingham, Chattanooga, Jackson State, LSU, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Mercer, Mississippi, Mississippi State, North Florida, South Alabama, Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, UNC Greensboro, Vanderbilt

Defending champion: First year

Skinny: Just how good are the host Rebels? The school does have four victories this season, including an impressive come-from-behind win at last month's Linger Longer Invitational. Time to see how the group does playing as the favorite in a tournament.

Colorado-Stevinson Ranch Invitational

Stevinson Ranch GC (Par 72, 7,206 yards)

Stevinson, Calif.

April 7-8

Host: Colorado

__Field:Akron, Colorado, CSU-Bakersfield, Drake, Gonzaga, Loyola Marymount, Missouri-Kansas City, New Mexico State, Northern Illinois, Oklahoma City, Pacific, St. Mary's (Calif.), San Francisco, Washington State

Defending champion:

Skinny: St. Mary's comes in with some momentum, after winning the Western Intercollegiate last week. But the host Buffaloes aren't to be overlooked, either. CU's win at the Louisiana Classics last month has them rolling in the right direction, particularly junior__Derek Tolan, who has two top-10s in his last two starts.

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__WOMEN

Ping/ASU Invitational__

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

ASU Karsten Course (Par 72, 6,230 yards)

Tempe, Ariz.

April 4-6

Host: Arizona State

Field: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Denver, Georgia, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Pepperdine, San Francisco, San Jose State, Southern California, Stanford, Texas A&M, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Washington

Defending champion: Arizona State (13-under 851) by 22 strokes over UCLA; Anna Nordqvist, Arizona State (10-under 206) by two strokes over Stanford's Mari Chun

Skinny: There's no truth to the rumor that the Sun Devils have been running help wanted ads in Phoenix area newspapers searching for a No. 5 woman to start in their line-up. That said, the lack of a fifth player to score on a consistent basis (and take pressure off Nos. 1-4) has hindered ASU for more than a year now. If they're to be a real factor in the postseason, someone needs to emerge and soon. What better place than at home, where the Sun Devils set scoring records a year ago.

Crimson Tide Classic

Ol' Colony GC (Par 72, 6.494 yards)

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

April 4-6

Host: Alabama

Field: Alabama, Alabama-Birmingham, Boston College, Jacksonville State, LSU, Kentucky, Mississippi, Murray State, South Alabama, Samford, Stetson, Troy

Defending champion: First year

Skinny: Lost amid the men's team's impressive run in 2007-08, the Alabama women's squad has two wins and six top-five finishes this season.

Susie Maxwell Berning Classic

Jimmie Austin GC (par 72, 6,013 yards)

Norman, Okla.

April 6-7

Host: Oklahoma

Defending champion: Baylor (four-under 860) by nine strokes over Arkansas; Stacy Lewis, Arkansas (eight-under 208) by two over Baylor's Anna Rehnholm____

Indiana Invitational

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

Crooked Stick GC

Carmel, Ind.

April 7-8

Host: Indiana

Field: Ball State, Illinois, Illinois State, Indiana, Iowa, Lipscomb, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, Purdue, Texas, UNLV

Defending champion: Michigan (27-over 603) by three strokes over Michigan State; Seul Ki Park, Illinois (even-par 144) by three over Notre Dame's Noriko Nakazaki and Michigan State's Rachel Meikle

Skinny: The tournament returns to Crooked Stick for a two-day, 54-hole sprint. Purdue is the top-ranked team in the field at No. 7.

Canes & Cardinal Classic

Don Shula's Golf Resort (Par 72, 6,210 yards)

Miami Lakes, Fla.

April 7-8

Host: Miami (Fla.)/Louisville

Field: Boise State, College of Charleston, Florida International, Furman, Georgia State, Kansas State, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, Missouri, Notre Dame, South Florida, Tulsa

Defending champion: South Florida (44-over 908) by 10 strokes over Florida Southern; Christina Jones, South Florida, Laura Fourdraine, Rollins (six-over 222)

Skinny: I think we'll see the Hurricanes prove victorious, but not the host school. I like then Golden Hurricane of Tulsa to notch victory number four in their last five starts.

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