News & ToursFebruary 19, 2009

This week's syllabus: Feb. 20-26

__FAB FIVE

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

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  1. Georgia (Last week's syllabus: 1)

For a team that many tout--including myself--as having so much depth, it is interesting to note that no Bulldog currently ranks inside the top 40 in the Golfstat Cup rankings. (Hudson Swafford is the top-ranked UGa player at No. 42.)

Spring opener: Puerto Rico Classic, Rio Mar GC (River Course), Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Feb. 27-March 1

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  1. USC (2)

Trojan coach Chris Zambri has four different players--Jamie Lovemark, Tom Glissmeyer, Tim Sluiter and Matt Giles--that all could win their home event this week. If three out of the four finish outside the top-15, it would shock me.

Next event: USC Collegiate Invitational, North Ranch CC, Westlake Village, Calif., Feb. 23-24

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  1. Oklahoma State (3)

Lots of speculation out there that this spring might be the last semester for Rickie Fowler in Stillwater. If that's the case, and that's still a real if, Cowboys' fans have to hope he'll stay a little more focused in his final events compared to one of their recent early departures, Pablo Martin.

Spring opener: Puerto Rico Classic, Rio Mar GC (River Course), Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Feb. 27-March 1

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  1. Alabama (4)

The Crimson Tide are trying to defend their titles in three of their five spring tournaments, including the SEC Championship.

Spring opener: John Hayt Collegiate Invitational, Sawgrass CC, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Feb. 22-24

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  1. Washington (NR)

The Huskies runner-up finish at the UH Hilo Invitational, included top-three finishes from Nick Taylor, Richard Lee and Chris Killmer. The trio help make Washington the only school to have three players in the top 40 of the Golfstat Cup standings.

Next event: USC Collegiate Invitational, North Ranch CC, Westlake Village, Calif., Feb. 23-24


__WOMEN

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  1. UCLA (1)

OK, the Bruins know that this spring isn't going to be any walk in the park. Says here, they step things up in Mexico and let the competition know they aren't just going to roll over themselves.

Next event: Arizona Invitational, Peninsula GC, Puerto Penasco, Mexico, Feb. 22-24

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  1. Arizona State (2)

NCAA champion Azahara Munoz is sitting out a second tournament to let her wrist fully heal after January surgery. You know how much it hurt the Sun Devils when she was out of the lineup at the Northrup Grumman.

Next event: Arizona Invitational, Peninsula GC, Puerto Penasco, Mexico, Feb. 22-24

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  1. USC (3)

The Trojans could break out in Mexico ... or they could remain the third best team in the Pac-10. Andrea Gaston needs more consistency from Belen Mozo and Stefanie Endstrasser if USC is to make a legitimate run at repeating as NCAA champions.

Next event: Arizona Invitational, Peninsula GC, Puerto Penasco, Mexico, Feb. 22-24

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  1. Wake Forest (4)

I like the scheduling approach coach Dianne Dailey has here ... played an early spring event (doing well there was/is an added bonus) and now have a few weeks to address weaknesses before playing the bulk of their spring schedule. We'll see if it pays off for the Demon Deacons.

Next event: LSU/Cleveland Golf Classic, University Club, Baton Rouge, La., March 13-15

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  1. Auburn (NR)

The Tigers card their first win of the 2008-09 season with three-shot victory over LSU at the Central District Invitational. While it wasn't the finish Candace Schepperle desired (final-round 75 dropped her to second place individually), her campaign for SEC player of the year honors is only bolstered with another top-five showing.

Next event: UCF Challenge, Red Tail CC, Heathrow, Fla., March 8-10





__STAT OF THE WEEK

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Number of schools competing in the Edwin Watts/Kiawah Island Classic, Feb. 22-24 at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Suffice it to say, the unique event is the largest women's college tournament in the country. Each team will play one round at Cougar Point and one round at Oak Point, with a "cut" then administered after 36 holes. The top 22 teams will play Cougar Point again to decide the championship while the other 21 schools will compete at Oak Point for the flight championship.

"It will be interesting to watch teams trying to figure out the cut line," said College of Charleston women's coach Jamie Futrell. "The cutline brings and element that is unique and exciting to collegiate tournaments. Sometimes coaches seem more worried about the cutline than what their team actually shot."




WHAT TO WATCH FOR

  • Dan Brooks has successfully handled the "risk" of having only five players on his roster in years past--the Hall of Fame coach saw his Blue Devils squad win NCAA titles with just five in 2005 and 2006--but this time around he might not be so lucky. Back problems caused junior Alison Whitaker to sit out the last two rounds of the Central District Invitational earlier this week and forced Duke to finish the tournament with just four players competing. Whitaker rested the past couple of days in Durham, getting treatment from a chiropractor before practicing lightly Thursday. She is expected to accompany the team today on its trip to Mexico for the Arizona Wildcat Invitational that starts Sunday, but what she'll be able to contribute (or if she can even play all three rounds) isn't 100 percent uncertain. In less than two weeks Duke is off to its next event in Orlando (UCF Challenge), giving Whitaker a little more time to rest, but not much.

In defense of Brooks, who ironically won't be making the trip to Mexico himself for health reasons, he didn't think he would only have five players this spring--freshman Mina Harigae's abrupt announcement last month that she was leaving school caught everyone by surprise. His alternatives for the spring are minimal, aside from holding an open casting call on campus for the role of sixth woman. The shame of it, though, is that seniors Amanda Blumenherst and Jennie Lee undeservedly might become victims, finishing out their careers at Duke on a down note.

  • I mentioned yesterday that Wake Forest, Virginia and North Carolina are all good enough to give Duke a run at the ACC Women's Championship in April. I love the attitude from the coaches at all three schools, but I'm a little concerned that the Cavaliers and Tar Heels are still a few weeks removed from playing their spring openers. Yes, taking your time to knock the rust off is important but waiting too long to get back into action (UVa opens at the LSU/Cleveland Classic, March 13-15; UNC opens at the UCF Challenge, March 8-10) could have a negative effect as well.

"We're going to be so ready to play, but I hope we don't get past ready to play," UNC women's coach Sally Austin told me the other day. "I would like to have had a tournament at the end of February but it just didn't work out that way. We try to get into tournaments over spring break, and these two tournaments [UCF and LSU] work out so we can play on our spring break and we're able to not miss school, which is important. It is a little longer than I'd like to wait."

  • I've said before that the race for Division I men's player of the year is wide open, with a handful of players from lower profile schools that had great showings in the fall still very much contenders if they can continue the strong play into the spring. With a T-19 finish Tuesday at the UTSA Oak Hills Invitational, Wichita State's Dustin Garza remains in the running but his margin for error has decreased. Garza's amazing fall (three wins, two runner-ups, 68.53 average) allows him one free pass but if he falls back any farther at this week's UCF/Rio Pinar Invitational, his candidacy might be over.

__TOURNAMENTS ON TAP

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John Hayt Collegiate Invitational__

(For live scoring, link here to Golfstat)

Sawgrass CC, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (Par 72, 6,895 yards)

Feb. 22-24

Host: North Florida

Field: Alabama, UAB, Arizona State, Chattanooga, Coastal Carolina, Duke, Furman, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, LSU, North Florida, TCU, Tennessee, Tulsa, UNC Wilmington

Defending champion: Alabama (nine-over 873) by four strokes over UCLA; Georgia State's Joel Sjoholm (seven-under 209) by five strokes over UCLA's Jason Kang, North Florida's Michael O'Neal and Florida's Will Strickler

Skinny: The golfers enjoyed last year's inaugural Players Cup, an informal three-hole event at TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course where teams counted their four best scores while playing the famous closing holes, Nos. 16-18.

UCF/Rio Pinar Invitational

Rio Pinar CC, Orlando (Par 72, 6,978 yards)

Feb. 23-24

Host: UCF

Field: Akron, Augusta State, Baylor, UCF, Connecticut, East Carolina, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, Mercer, Mississippi, UNC Greensboro, Ohio State, South Alabama, South Florida, Southern Mississippi, UT-Arlington, Vanderbilt, Virginia Commonwealth, Wichita State

Defending champion: UCF (18-under 84) by 12 strokes over Wichita State; UCF's Greg Forest and Mike Stern (11-under 205)

Skinny: Looking for an individual favorite at Rio Pinar? UCF junior Simon Ward, a transfer from Ireland, has had two straight top-five finishes. He lost in a playoff last weekend at the SunTrust Gator Invitational but is playing well enough to look like a good bet at the Knights home course.

All-American Intercollegiate

The Tradition Course at Cypresswood GC, Spring, Texas (Par 72, 7,220 yards)

Feb. 23-24

Host: Houston

Field: UALR, CSU Northridge, Houston, Jacksonville State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee State, New Mexico State, North Texas, Sam Houston State, Southeastern Louisiana, Texas Southern, Texas State

Defending champion: Middle Tennessee State (27-over 891) by one stroke over UALR; UALR's Brian Whittle (five-under 211) by eight strokes over Houston's Ben Moser

Skinny: Revived four years ago after a 10-year hiatus, the tournament has had three different winners the past three seasons.

USC Collegiate Invitational

(For live scoring, link here to Golfstat)

North Ranch CC, Westlake Village, Calif. (Par 71, 6,869 yards)

Feb. 23-24

Host: USC

Field: BYU, Cal, Fresno State, Loyola Marymount, Pacific, Oregon State, Pepperdine, San Diego State, Stanford, UC Irvine, UCLA, USC, Washington

Defending champion: USC (33-over 885) by four strokes over Tennessee; USC's Tim Sluiter (five-over 218) by one stroke over Matthew Giles

Skinny: If the Trojans defend their title this week, it will be the first time USC has been a repeat champion in its own event. Also, since the tournament's inception in 1978, there's never been a repeat individual champion. UCLA's Corey Pavin and UTEP's Dave Bishop are the only players to win it twice (1978, 1981).



__WOMEN

Arizona Wildcat Invitational__

Peninsula GC, Puerto Penasco, Mexico (Par 72, 6,146 yards)

Feb. 22-24

Host: Arizona

Field: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Chattanooga, Denver, Duke, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Oklahoma State, Pepperdine, Stanford, Tennessee, Tulsa, Tulane, UCLA, UNLV, USC, Washington

Defending champion: Oklahoma State (32-over 884) by two strokes over Duke and USC; Duke's Amanda Blumenherst (even-par 213) by three over USC's Belen Mozo and Oklahoma State's Jaclyn Sweeney

Skinny: Nine of the top 25 teams in the Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll--including the top four--are making the trip south of the border.

Edwin Watts/Kiawah Island Classic

(For live scoring, link here to Golfstat)

Oak Point GC and Cougar Point, Kiawah Island, S.C.

Feb. 22-24

Host: College of Charleston

Field: Augusta State, Ball State, Bradley, Bucknell, Central Arkansas, College of Charleston, Charleston Southern, Cincinnati, The Citadel, East Tennessee State, Elon, Florida, Illinois State, Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Kentucky, Longwood, Marshall, Maryland, Mercer, Miami (Fla.), Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri State, Nebraska, Old Dominion, Oral Roberts, Oregon, Oregon State, Richmond, South Florida, Southern Illinois, SMU, Texas State, Toledo, UCF, UNC Wilmington, USC Upstate, Western Carolina, Winthrop, William & Mary, Wofford

Defending champion: New Event

Skinny: Fun idea for an event ... just have to hope the weather cooperates.

Fresno State Lexus Classic

(For live scoring, link here to Golfstat)

Copper River CC, Fresno, Calif. (Par 72, 6,072 yards)

Feb. 23-24

Host: Fresno State

Field: Boise State, Fresno State, Gonzaga, Hawaii, Long Beach State, Nevada, Portland State, Sacramento State, San Diego State, San Francisco, Santa Clara, UC Davis, UC Irvine

Defending champion: Tulsa (14-over 590) by three strokes over UC Davis; Fresno State's Taylor Siebert (even-par 144) by one strokes over Hawaii's Corie Hou, Kansas' Emily Powers and UC Davis' Jee Park

Skinny: The host Bulldogs have won the event twice in its four-year history.

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