News & ToursFebruary 25, 2010

This week's syllabus: Feb. 25-March 3

__THE FAB FIVE

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

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1. Stanford (Last week: 1)

The most impressive thing about the Cardinal thus far in 2009-10 has been the team's consistency—no finish worse than third place with five different players posting top-20 finishes. I'm looking for more of the same this week as they attempt to defend their USC Invitational title

Next event: USC Invitational, North Ranch CC, Westlake, Calif., March 1-2

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2. Oklahoma State (2)

Hard to complain about a second-place finish in Puerto Rico when four players finish in top-20, including Kevin Tway's individual victory, the third of his career. Bottom line: No Cowboy shot worse than a 74 in their collective 15 rounds.

Next event: Southern Highlands Collegiate, Southern Highlands GC, Las Vegas, March 12-14

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3. Texas (NR)

My beef with Texas in recent years has been lots of talent, little results. The Longhorns, however, are starting to make believers out of me after a most impressive victory in Puerto Rico. All five players finish in top 20.

Next event: Southern Highlands Collegiate, Southern Highlands GC, Las Vegas, March 12-14

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OK, Gators got the win that they wanted at home earlier this month. Let's see how they do as the favorites at the John Hayt. My prediction? They'll handle it just fine.

Next event: John Hayt Invitational, Sawgrass CC, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Feb. 28-March 2

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Just got pipped at the Battle at the Beach by UCLA, and that was with Nick Taylor finishing outside the top-20 for the first time in a full year. This is the time the Huskies traditionally start to shine, and playing in Fresno might set-up nicely for them.

Next event: Fresno Lexus Challenge, San Joaquin CC, Fresno, Calif., March 8-9

WOMEN

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Nice bounce back for the Sun Devils as they claim the rain-shortened Arizona Wildcat Invite title by 12 strokes. In contrast to their performance at the Northrup Grumman, where only one golfer finished in the top 15, four players posted top-10s, lead by Juliana Murcia's T-2.

Next event: Bruin/Wave Invitational, Robinson Ranch GC, Canyon Country, Calif., March 1-3

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A 12th-place finish in Tucson was definitely not what anyone expected. Jennifer Song finishing T-41? Lizette Salas finishing T-53? Sadly for Trojan fans those aren't misprints. Thankfully, a chance at redemption is only a few days away.

Next event: Bruin/Wave Invitational, Robinson Ranch GC, Canyon Country, Calif., March 1-3

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The Bruins remain the top team in the Golfstat head-to-head ranking, thanks to having both the low adjusted average score (72.94) and the low average drop score (76.6). The stat they'd like to work on most, however, is the one in the win column, which is currently at 0.

Next event: Bruin/Wave Invitational, Robinson Ranch GC, Canyon Country, Calif., March 1-3

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I've got to think the women in Tuscaloosa are going a bit stir-crazy just sitting there and not having any tournaments to play in. I don't know how this will affect them when they do get back into competition, but you hope it doesn't hurt their momentum.

Next event: Tiger-Wave Classic, English Turn GC, New Orleans, March 12-13

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Sure, the Boilermakers finished third at the Central District Invitational, 32 strokes back of victorious Florida. They did it, however, without Maude Aimee Leblanc in their lineup. I can hear people crying my point is heresy, but I think at full-strength Purdue might have had a more favorable outcome.

Next event: Liz Murphey Collegiate, U. of Georgia GC, Athens, Ga., March 26-28

__STAT OF THE WEEK

0

__Number of rounds at par or worse that the Texas men counted in their Puerto Rico Classic victory this week at Rio Mar GC in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. Accounting for all five Longhorns in the field, only two of the 15 rounds played were par or worse with eight sub-70 scores.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

  • A pair of Arizona State golfers—Philip Francis and Braxton Marquez—with will be playing at this week's PGA Tour stop, the Waste Management Open, at TPC Scottsdale, not far from campus. The two have varied backgrounds, but the event will mean something to both. Francis is in the midst of a redshirt season after transferring from UCLA. The former U.S. Junior champion, who is playing in his sixth tour event, will no doubt just be excited to get in a little competition.

As for Marquez, his participation is even more poignant. His family's catering business has worked at the event for a number of years, with Marquez himself pitching in and helping on various odd jobs. Sadly, Marquez' father, Randy, died last March after being diagnosed with liver cancer, providing Braxton all the incentive in the world to make the most of his appearance in the event.

__TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

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USC Collegiate Invitational

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

North Ranch CC, Westlake Village, Calif.

Feb. 28-March 2

Host: USC

Defending champion: Stanford (-13/839) by 10 strokes over BYU; Stanford's Steve Ziegler (-9/204) by one stroke over Pepperdine's Andrew Putnam

Field: Arizona State, BYU, California, Charlotte, Fresno State, Oregon, Oregon State, Pepperdine, San Diego, San Diego State, Stanford, UC Davis, UCLA, USC

Skinny: Not trying to pick on Charlotte here, but the 49ers chances of winning are near zero. Why? Because only once in the 32 years of the event has a team east of the Mississippi claimed the title (Tennessee, 2005).

__John Hayt Collegiate Invitational

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

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

Feb. 28-March 2

Host: North Florida

Defending champion: LSU (+21/885) by eight strokes over Arizona State;  LSU's John Peterson (-2/214) by two strokes over LSU's Andrew Loupe, Alabama's Hunter Hamrick and Coastal Carolina's Zack Byrd

Field: UAB, Alabama, UCF, Coastal Carolina, Duke, Florida, Furman, Georgia Southern, LSU, Mercer, N.C. State, North Florida, TCU, Tennessee, Tulsa

Skinny: The 18-year-old tournament is played on one of the tougher courses that collegiate teams face. To wit, the last team to finish under par at the event was South Carolina back in ... 2004.

__Braveheart Classic

__Oak Valley GC, Beaumont, Calif. (Par 72, 7,003 yards)

March 1-2

Host: UC Riverside

Defending champion: Oregon (+11/875) by seven strokes over Southern Utah; Southern Utah's Nate Page (-1/215) by two strokes over five others

Field: Arizona, CSU Bakersfield, CSU Fullerton, CSU Northridge, Gonzaga, La Verne, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Minnesota, Portland, Sacramento State, Santa Clara, Southern Utah, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara

Skinny: Can Arizona or Minnesota, the highest profile teams in the field, use the event to springboard their spring seasons, as Oregon did in 2009?

__Seahawk Intercollegiate

__CC of Landfall (Nicklaus), Wilmington, N.C. (Par 72, 7,058 yards)

March 1-2

Host: UNC Wilmington

Defending champion: New event

Field: Augusta State, Davidson, Drexel, East Carolina, Georgia State, James Madison, North Carolina, UNC Wilmington, South Carolina, VCU Wake Forest, William & Mary

Skinny: Moved Landfall event to the spring with the club hosting the NCAA women's preview last October.

__WOMEN

Fresno State Lexus Classic

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

Copper River CC, Fresno, Calif.

March 1-2

Host: Fresno State

Defending champion: UC Irvine (+27/891) by one stroke over San Francisco; Santa Clara's Miki Ueoka (-7/209) by three strokes over Long Beach State's Kay Hoey

Field: Boise State, Cal Poly, CSU Fullerton, Eastern Washington, Fresno State, Gonzaga, Nevada, Portland State, Sacramento State, San Jose State, Santa Clara, Seattle, UC Davis, UC Irvine

Skinny: Coach Angie Cates-Moore specifically decided to push Fresno State's home tournament down the Bulldogs' schedule, playing on the road to open the spring at the Peg Barnard Classic, so that they wouldn't knocking the rust off their competitive games but would have already had a few rounds under their collective belts when playing in front of their fans.

__Kinderlou Forest Challenge

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

Kinderlou Forest, Valdosta, Ga.

March 1-2

Host: Kennesaw State/Kentucky

Defending champion: New event

Field: Arkansas, Chattanooga, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Kennesaw State, Kent State, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Tulane, Vanderbilt, Virginia

Skinny: Impressive field for a first-year event, with seven top-25 teams from the most recent Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll.

__Bruin Wave Invitational

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

Robinson Ranch GC, Santa Clarita, Calif. (Par 72, 6,282 yards)

March 1-3

Host: Pepperdine/UCLA

Defending champion: New event

Field: Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, CSU Northridge, Long Beach State, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Oregon, Oregon State, Pepperdine, San Diego State, San Francisco, Stanford, UCLA, UNLV, USC, Washington, Washington State

Skinny: West Coast neighbors help organize this new tournament. Might feel like a Pac-10 Conference preview event consider nine of the 10 schools are in the field (only one missing: California).

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