News & ToursNovember 12, 2009

This week's syllabus: End of the Fall edition

__THE FAB FIVE

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

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Thumbnail image for Stanford logo 2008-09.gif

You can look at the names atop the leader board at the Gifford Collegiate at Corde Valle (Sihwan Kim, second place; David Chung, T-3), but it's the final-round 70 that the Cardinal got from freshman Steven Kearney (after shooting a 78-79 in the first two rounds) that proved the difference in defeating Oklahoma State by three strokes to grab the team title in the final fall start.

Spring opener: UH-Hilo Intercollegiate, Mauni Lani CC, Hilo, Hawaii,

Feb. 3-5

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2__[#image: /photos/55ad71d4b01eefe207f686a3]|||Thumbnail image for Oklahoma-state-logo-latest.jpg|||. Oklahoma State (Last week: 1)

Impressive individual performance from Peter Uihlein, who collected his second title of the fall at Corde Valle, as well as from Morgan Hoffmann and Kevin Tway, who posted top-10s. All this talk about depth for the Cowboys remains true, although the lack of a consistent performance from a fifth man was the one flaw we saw from OSU this fall.

Spring opener: UH-Hilo Intercollegiate, Mauni Lani CC, Hilo, Hawaii,

Feb. 3-5

Thumbnail image for Arizona State logo 2008-09.gif

Another week to forget the Sun Devils' performance at Isleworth and remember they were the other team to knock off Oklahoma State this fall en route to their victory at Olympia Fields. While Randy Lein recalls that his 1996 NCAA title team didn't have one standout player but five solid ones, I would like to see one of ASU's young guns take on the role as the go to guy.

Spring opener: UH-Hilo Intercollegiate, Mauni Lani CC, Hilo, Hawaii,

Feb. 3-5

Thumbnail image for Washington logo 2008-09.gif

Matt Thurmond got solid if not spectacular play from his deep squad this fall. To wit: none of the five players who played 11 or more rounds had a stroke average higher than 73.64 but only one had a stroke average lower than 73.17 (Nick Taylor, 72.58). The stat suggests that the Huskies have a lot more in the tank.

Spring opener: UH-Hilo Intercollegiate, Mauni Lani CC, Hilo, Hawaii,

Feb. 3-5

5. Texas A&M (3)

I may well have been guilty of taking the Aggies too lightly to start the season, and I could be guilty of taking them too seriously right now, but there's a lot to like in the way this team played its way through the fall season. Victories are a big deal, regardless of how strong the fields may or may not have been at the Lone Star and the Baylor events. So is improvement, which is what you saw out of J.T. Higgins' squad as September turned to November.

Spring opener: Arizona Intercollegiate, Arizona National GC, Tuscon, Ariz., Feb. 1-2

__WOMEN

__[#image: /photos/55ad71d5b01eefe207f686bb]|||Thumbnail image for Arizona State logo 2008-09.gif|||1. Arizona State (1)

The Sun Devils victory at the Stanford Intercollegiate keeps is the primary reason why I've got ASU at the top at the end of the fall despite their overall record (41-6-1) being slightly worse than UCLA's (59-4-1). Given how much high-stakes golf Melissa Luellen's crew played during the past year, a little down time to rest and recharge will serve them well.

Spring opener: Northrup Grumman Regional Challenge, Palos Verdes GC, Palos Verdes, Calif., Feb. 9-11

Thumbnail image for UCLA logo 2008-09.gif

The Bruins played so well this fall--finishing second in all four tournaments they played in, trailing the winners by a collective 16 strokes--you actually forget the fact that they had to overcome the loss of two first-team All-Americans in Tiffany Joh and Maria Jose Uribe.

Spring opener: Northrup Grumman Regional Challenge, Palos Verdes GC, Palos Verdes, Calif., Feb. 9-11

Thumbnail image for Auburn logo 2008-09.gif

Detractors cry that Cydney Clanton and Candace Schepperle are carrying an otherwise young squad and should they slouch their broad shoulders in the spring, Auburn will turn out to be paper Tigers. Here's the counter-argument: Auburn's average drop score is 76.92, the second best in the country. How can that be if this group is so weak at the bottom of its line-up?

Spring opener: Arizona Wildcat Invitational, Arizona National GC, Tucson, Ariz., Feb. 22-23

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__[#image: /photos/55ad71d5add713143b42340e]|||Thumbnail image for Purdue 2008-09 logo.gif|||4. Purdue (4)

Another school that has amazingly seemed unfazed by the departure of the best player in school history, Maria Hernandez. The Boilermakers will be tested throughout the spring by Big Ten rival Michigan State, but that will ultimately help keep them sharp when they face the schools out west come the post-season.

Spring opener: Lady Puerto Rico Classic, Coco Beach Resort, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Feb. 7-9

Thumbnail image for USC 2008-09 logo.gif

The Trojans had an disappointing finish to the fall, particularly after an impressive start to the season at the Mason Rudolph. The caveat of course is that Jennifer Song skipped the last two events; her presence certainly would have helped improve on a 16th at the NCAA Preview and a third at Turtle Bay. Giving Belen Mozo more time to recover from her shoulder surgery during the winter break and getting first-team All-American Lizette Salas a little more rest too should let Andrea Gaston start the spring with her team at or near full strength for the first time in more than a year.

Spring opener: Northrup Grumman Regional Challenge, Palos Verdes GC, Palos Verdes, Calif., Feb. 9-11

STAT OF THE WEEK, PART I

1

Number of freshmen that can be found among the top 80 men's players in the Golfstat Cup ranking through Tuesday. Texas rookie Cody Gribble is No. 27, making him the lone first-year golfer in the ranking. By comparison, there were six at this point in time during the 2008-09 season, 12 in the 2007-08 season, 3 in 2006-07, 9 in 2005-06, 9 in 2004-05, 8 in 2003-05.

__STAT OF THE WEEK, PART I__I

21

Number of freshmen that are among the top 80 players in the current women's Golfstat Cup ranking.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

  • Next week I'll begin my annual mid-season awards package, reviewing the fall campaign and setting the stage for the spring. As a sneak peak, I'll hand out the award for the top conference through the first half of the 2009-10 season.

__MEN

Winner:__ Pac-10

Frankly, the competition isn't very close. Look at the Golfstat team rankings and you can see the discrepancy between the league and the other "Big Five" conferences.

Average      % of teams  % of teams   % of teams   % of teams

Conference        Golfstat rank     in top 20      in top 50       in top 75      in top 100

Pac-10                     26.4                55.6            77.8              88.9              100

SEC                         44.3                41.7             58.3             83.3              83.3

ACC                         48.8                18.2             81.8             81.8              81.8

Big 12                      55.4                33.3             41.7             66.7              91.7

Big Ten                     62.5                9.1              27.3             63.6               90.9

The Pac-10 number also is skewed in that it doesn't account for UCLA, which had too few rounds played during Golfstat's latest ranking to be included. Given the Bruins No. 23 ranking in the most recent Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll, they likely would have brought the average team ranking down plus improved some of the percentage numbers (80% for top 50 teams, 90% for top 75).

Interestingly, the ACC could claim it should be the second best conference, if not for Boston College skewing its numbers. The Eagles rank 203rd according to Golfstat. Drop them from the ACC's totals and you get:

Average      % of teams  % of teams   % of teams   % of teams

Conference        Golfstat rank     in top 20      in top 50       in top 75      in top 100

ACC                         33.4                 20                90                90                  90

__WOMEN

Winner:__ SEC

Here is a similar review of the Golfstat ranking on the women's side.

Average      % of teams  % of teams   % of teams   % of teams

Conference        Golfstat rank     in top 20      in top 50       in top 75      in top 100

SEC                         34.1                58.3             75.0             83.3              91.7

Pac-10                     35.4                50.0             80.0             80.0              80.0

ACC                         50.1                33.3             55.6             77.8             77.8

Big 12                      55.6                 0.0              41.7             83.3              100

Big Ten                    56.6                18.2             45.5             81.8              81.8

It's close between the SEC and the Pac-10, but given the larger percentage of conference schools in the top 20 (meaning more teams among the nation's elite) and the larger percentage of conference schools in the top 100 (meaning the deeper the reserve of teams within the conference), I have to give the mid-season edge to the SEC.

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TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

MEN

Western Refining All-American Golf Classic

__El Paso CC, El Paso, Texas (Par 71, 6,837 yards)

Nov. 23-24

__Host:Sun Bowl Association

__Defending champion: Marquette's Mike Van Sickle (six-under 207) on sixth playoff hole over Oklahoma State's Trent Leon

Skinny: The 35th edition of the event, an individual invitational tournament made exclusively of players named to one of the GCAA's All-America teams from the previous season, has the biggest field (32 players) of any in tournament history. … Past winners of the tournament include: David Duval (Georgia Tech, 1991), Davis Love III (North Carolina, 1984), Jerry Pate (Alabama, 1974), Scott Simpson (USC, 1976) and Tiger Woods (Stanford, 1995). … Alumni of the tournament have earned more than $1 billion in PGA Tour earnings, according to the Sun Bowl Association.

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