U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)

The Loop

This week's syllabus: April 3-9


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


__[#image: /photos/55ad717db01eefe207f68126]|||Thumbnail image for Georgia logo 2008-09.gif|||1. Georgia (Last week's syllabus: 1)

Looking for some idea of how the Bulldogs might fare at the U.S. Collegiate?: They have two wins in the three tournaments they've played in Georgia this season.

Next event: U.S. Collegiate, GC of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga., April 5-7


What was that I was saying the past few weeks about the Cowboys' inability to close out events? With the Morris Williams 25-shot victory last week, maybe that problem is being solved. Even better for OSU fans was to see Morgan Hoffmann post a final-round 70 to share medalist honors.

Next event: U.S. Collegiate, GC of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga., April 5-7


You've got to get through 54 holes of stroke play to get to match play at NCAAs. This week's event will be a great test to see how this solid match-play squad handles a stroke-play event against the best of the best.

Next event: U.S. Collegiate, GC of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga., April 5-7


Forget for a moment that Nick Taylor has three wins and a 71.95 stroke average. How about the fact that Richard Lee, a community college transfer, has finished outside the top 10 in just one event and has a 72.13 average of his own.

Next event: U.S. Collegiate, GC of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga., April 5-7


5. Oregon (NR)

This is a bit of a tryout here for the Ducks. They've got two wins in their last three starts but didn't face any top 25 teams in claiming the Western Intercollegiate title and just one in winning the Braveheart Classic. That noise you hear in Eugene ... it's Stanford and USC arguing about getting the spot in the top five back.

Next event: U.S. Collegiate, GC of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga., April 5-7


__[#image: /photos/55ad717dadd713143b422e0d]|||Thumbnail image for UCLA logo 2008-09.gif|||__1. UCLA __(1)

The Bruins will be missing senior All-American Tiffany Joh, who is playing at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, when they travel to the desert. Advantage ASU?

Next event: Ping/ASU Invitational, Karsten Course at ASU, Tempe, Ariz., April 3-5


The Sun Devils will be missing senior All-American Azahara Munoz, who is also playing at the Kraft Nabisco, so maybe they're just giving everybody else in the field a little more hope.

Next event: Ping/ASU Invitational, Karsten Course at ASU, Tempe, Ariz., April 3-5


The ASU event should bring back good memories for the Trojans; it was here in 2008 that they began their four tournament march to the NCAA title.

Next event: Ping/ASU Invitational, Karsten Course at ASU, Tempe, Ariz., April 3-5


First time the Boilermakers have traveled to Tempe for ASU's event. Having beaten the Sun Devils at the Betsy Rawls two weeks ago, I'd be surprised if the folks from Indiana are at all intimidated.

Next event: Ping/ASU Invitational, Karsten Course at ASU, Tempe, Ariz., April 3-5


5. Auburn (NR)

Hard to figure out much from the Tigers' victory at the rain-shortened Liz Murphey Collegiate, but I'm impressed with their ability to do well knowing they had one day to outplay the 17 other teams, including 11 in the Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll's top 25.

Next event: Lady Gator Invitational, Mark Bostick GC at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., Gainesville, Fla., April 6-7



__Number of times the Arizona and Arizona State men's golf teams have competed in the same tournament together during the 2008-09 season. The Wildcats finished ninth at the Southern Highlands Intercollegiate in March while the Sun Devils were 10th.

So what you ask? Maybe it only amazes me that these two rival schools, both considered high-profile golf programs, have only competed against each other once to this point in the season. Consider that ASU has faced Duke, Charlotte and Chattanooga in four different tournaments each, while Arizona have faced Charlotte three times themselves.

Moral of the story? If you think the ".500 rule" isn't affecting how teams schedule, than you've got your head stuck in your headcover.


Caroline O'Conner's team no doubt has talent (it won the Edean Ihlanfeldt in the fall) and it can't be ruled out of possibly factoring in the Pac-10 Championship later this month considering Stanford GC is the site of the tournament. Still, you've got to wonder what kind of effect all this downtime is going to have on them particularly when the conference's Big Three (UCLA, Arizona State, USC) have been gaining valuable on-course experience the past month.

"The deck is stacked against us," Thurmond admitted to me yesterday. "I don't think I'll be bashful about that with the guys. I think that's fine and I want them to know that. This group might be one that might bust through that and say 'Forget that crap. We're going to play great.' I wouldn't put it past them."

Neither would I. I think they'll pull down a top-five finish, which will go even further toward suggesting that this is the year UW doesn't only make an early-round run at the NCAA Championship, but could be among the eight teams heading to match play at Inverness Club.



Administaff ASU Invitational__

(For live scoring, click here for Golfstat)

Forest Hills GC, Augusta, Ga. (Par 72, 7,231 yards)

April 4-5

Host: Augusta State

Field: Augusta State, UCF, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Coastal Carolina, Duke, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Houston, Kent State, Lamar, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, USC Aiken, Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia Tech

Defending champion: UCLA (24-under 552) by 16 strokes over Georgia; UCLA's Lucas Lee (10-under 134) by two strokes over Gareth Shaw

Skinny: Tournament returns to Forest Hills after three-year absence. Past individual champions include Phil Mickelson (Arizona State, 1989), Justin Leonard (Texas, 1992), Tim Herron (New Mexico, 1993) and Dustin Johnson (Coastal Carolina, 2007)

U.S. Collegiate

(For live scoring, click here for Golfstat)

GC of Georgia, Alpharetta, Ga.

April 5-7

Host: Georgia Tech

Field: Alabama, Clemson, East Tennessee State, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Washington

Defending champion: USC (even-par 864) by three strokes over Oklahoma State; Oklahoma State's Trent Leon (eight-under 208) by one stroke over USC's Jamie Lovemark and Oklahoma State's Rickie Fowler

Skinny: I'm really kind of disappointed at the tournament organizers only being able to get the top 11 teams in the Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll participating and just 13 of the top 25. Can't you try to get a better field next year?

Colorado-Stevinson Ranch Invitational

Stevinson Ranch, Stevinson, Calif. (Par 72, 7,142 yards)

April 6-7

Host: Colorado

Field: CSU-Bakersfield, CSU-Stanislaus, Colorado, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Missouri, UMKC, Nevada, Northern Colorado, Portland, St. Mary's, Sacramento State, San Francisco, South Dakota State, Washington State

Defending champion: New Mexico State (eight-over 872) by eight strokes over St. Mary's; Oklahoma City's Anthony Michael by three strokes over three others

Skinny: No team champion has broken par in this event since Kansas in 2004. Conversely all but one individual champion in the event's 10 previous playings has shot even par or lower to claim medalist honors.

Wyoming Cowboy Classic

Talking Stick GC (North Course), Scottsdale, Ariz. (Par 70, 7,133 yards)

April 6-7

Host: Wyoming

Field: Boise State, Fresno State, Gonzaga, Grand Canyon, Idaho, Northwestern, Old Dominion, Oregon State, Pacific, San Diego, San Jose State, Southern Utah, UC Davis, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, Utah, UTEP, Weber State, Western Carolina

Defending champion: UC Davis (seven-under 833) by three strokes over Grand Canyon; Boise State's Troy Merritt (eight-under 202) by one stroke over UCLA's Jason Kang and Oregon State's Paul Paterson

Skinny: Arizona, San Diego State and Texas are also sending individuals to compete in the six-year-old tournament.

Reunion Intercollegiate

Reunion G&CC, Madison, Miss. (Par 72, 7,416 yards)

April 7-8

Host: Mississippi

Field: UAB, Arkansas, Auburn, Jackson State, LSU, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Mississippi, Mississippi State, UNC-Greensboro, North Florida, South Alabama, Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, Vanderbilt

Defending champion: Chattanooga (12-under 852) by four strokes over LSU; UAB's Zack Sucher (nine-under 207) by two strokes over Mississippi's Jonathan Randolph

Skinny: With its 45-63-1 record, Auburn is in a must-win situation here if they want to get above .500 and be eligible for an at-large NCAA regional bid.


Bryan National Collegiate__

(For live scoring, click here for Golfstat)

Bryan Park Champions GC, Brown Summit, N.C.

April 3-5

Host: UNC Greensboro/Wake Forest

Field: Arkansas, Charleston, East Carolina, Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Michigan State, North Carolina, UNC-Greenboro, UNC-Wilmington, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, TCU, Tennessee, Virginia, Wake Forest

Defending champion: Florida (42-over 906) by two strokes over Duke; Arkansas' Stacy Lewis (even-par 216) by one stroke over Duke's Amanda Blumenherst

Skinny: Event is missing its defending champion (Florida) and four-time past winner (Duke) but still has eight of the top 25 teams in the Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll.

Lady Rebel Intercollegiate

(For live scoring, click here for Golfstat)

CC of Oxford, Oxford, Miss.

April 3-5

Host: Mississippi

Field: UAB, Arkansas State, Belmont, Jackson State, Kennesaw State, Memphis, Mississippi, Mississippi, Missouri, Murray State, Oregon State, South Alabama, Southern Mississippi, Tulane

Defending champion: New event

Skinny: It's the first time since 1998 that the Mississippi women's team has hosted a tournament.

Ping/ASU Invitational

(For live scoring, click here for Golfstat)

Karsten GC, Tempe, Ariz. (Par 72, 6,230 yards)

April 5-6

Host: Arizona State

Field: Arizona, Arizona State, California, UCF, Colorado,  Denver,  New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pepperdine, Purdue, Stanford, Texas A&M, Tulsa, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt

Defending champion: USC (10-under 854) by 11 strokes over Arizona State; USC's Dewi Schreefel won in tie-breaker with ASU's Anna Nordqvist (seven-under 209)

Skinny: The Sun Devils have won their home event 24 times in its 37-year history.

__Susie Maxwell Berning Classic

__Jimmie Austin GC, Norman, Okla.

April 5-6

Host: Oklahoma

Field: UALR, Baylor, Bucknell, Creighton, Kansas, Kansas State, North Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Oral Roberts, Redlands CC, SMU, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, UTEP, Wichita State

Defending champion: Oklahoma (21-over 885) by four strokes over Arkansas-Little Rock;

Skinny: Tournament is being held for the 31st time. Nancy Lopez of Tulsa was first medalist back in September 1976 and held the tournament record for lowest single round until 2007.

SunTrust Lady Gator Invitational

(For live scoring, click here for Golfstat)

Mark Bostick GC at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla. (Par 70, 5,954 yards)

April 6-7

Host: Florida

Field: Alabama, Auburn, BYU, Campbell, Coastal Carolina, Duke, Florida International, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida State, Furman, Georgetown, Georgia State, Northwestern, South Florida, Washington

Defending champion: Florida (nine-over 849) by 23 strokes over Louisville; Tiffany Chudy (one-under 209) by three strokes over Louisville's Cindy LaCrosse

Skinny: The fact that the course will host the NCAA East Regional next month helped attract a couple solid squads (read Auburn and Duke) who might not otherwise have played the event.

__Indiana Invitational

__   (For live scoring, click here for Golfstat)

Otter Creek, Columbus, Ind.

April 6-7

Host: Indiana

Field: Augusta State, Ball State, Illinois, Illinois State, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Lipscomb, Marshall, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, UNLV, Western Michigan, Wisconsin

Defending champion: Purdue (12-under 852) by 42 strokes over Ohio State; Purdue's Junthima Gulyamamitta (seven-under 209) by four strokes over Purdue's Maria Hernandez and Maude Aimee LeBlanc

Skinny: Hoosiers hope Big Ten player of the week, Anita Gahir, can help them claim the title.