News & ToursJanuary 25, 2008

This week's syllabus: Jan. 25-30

Back by popular demand ...

__THE FAB FIVE

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

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  1. UCLA __ (Last Golf World/Nike Golf Coaches' Poll Rank: 4)

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The Bruins' late fall start (first event wasn't until late October) didn't keep them from winning all three tournaments played. Now they're playing in the first tourney of the spring. The guess here is that the results will be the same.

Next event: Ping-Arizona Intercollegiate, Arizona National GC, Tucson, Jan. 28-29

2. Charlotte (2)

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With three month for their fall accomplishments (four wins in five starts) to soak in, the 49ers set out to prove their no flash in the pan.

Next event: John Hayt Collegiate Invitational, Sawgrass CC, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Feb. 17-19

__3. Alabama __ (3)

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Senior Michael Thompson should be available after breaking his finger at the end of the fall, but the Crimson Tide (three wins, four top-fives) are plenty deep if his recovery goes slow.

Next event: John Hayt Collegiate Invitational, Sawgrass CC, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Feb. 17-19

__4. Georgia __ (1)

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A young squad (no seniors) got a lot of help from freshmen in the fall. If junior All-American candidate Brian Harman steps up and becomes the Bulldogs' leader on the course, watch out. Plus the team had the highest fall GPA of all the school's sports teams (3.39).

Next event: Puerto Rico Classic, Rio Mar CC, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Feb. 29-March 2

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  1. Oklahoma State__ (6)

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The Cowboys have plenty of fire-power at the top of the line-up (led by freshman Rickie Fowler). If they can get consistency in the Nos. 4 and 5 spot, they'll be a factor come nationals.

Next event: Puerto Rico Classic, Rio Mar CC, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Feb. 29-March 2

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WOMEN

  1. Duke__ (Last Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll ranking: 1)

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Just how hungry are the Blue Devils? That might be what it amounts to this spring as the team looks to make NCAA history with a fourth straight national championship.

Next event: Arizona Wildcat Invitational, Arizona National GC, Tucson, Feb. 25-27

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  1. Arizona State __ (2)

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A nice finish to the fall--victory at the Stanford Intercollegiate, with Duke in the field--shows the Sun Devils have the talent to knock off the three-time NCAA champions.

Next event: Northrup Gruman Regional Challenge, Palos Verdes GC, Palos Verdes, Calif., Feb. 11-13

3. UCLA (3)

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Four players had 73.5 or lower stroke averages in the fall, making the Bruins a dangerous team.

Next event: Northrup Gruman Regional Challenge, Palos Verdes GC, Palos Verdes, Calif., Feb. 11-13

__4. USC __ (4)

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Five different players had top-10 finishes in the fall for the Trojans, four of them with T-3s or better. Fighting not just for national bragging rights, but for the L.A. city title

Next event: Northrup Gruman Regional Challenge, Palos Verdes GC, Palos Verdes, Calif., Feb. 11-13

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  1. Auburn __ (6)

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A pretty big step down from the Big Four in women's golf, but the Tigers have potential if Candace Shepperle and Margaret Shirley come to play this spring.

Next event: Arizona Wildcat Invitational, Arizona National GC, Tucson, Feb. 25-27


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STAT OF THE WEEK

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Number of teams ranked in the final fall Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll that have a winning percentage worse than .500. (See recent stories about the ".500 rule" in men's golf.) The lowest of all 25 teams in the ranking is No. 10 Florida at .590 (36-25).

__STAT OF THE WEEK, PART II

12__

Number of teams ranked in the final fall Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll that had winning percentages worse than .500 against other top-25 ranked teams. The lowest of these 12 is No. 21 Lamar at .133 (2-13).

__STAT OF THE WEEK, PART III

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Number of teams ranked in the final fall Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll that had an equal or better winning percentage against other top-25 ranked teams than against all opponents. No. 1 UCLA is 21-0 overall (1.000) and 7-0 against ranked teams (1.000). No. 20 Penn State is 58-5 overall (.921) and 4-0 against ranked teams (1.000).


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WHAT TO WATCH FOR

USC's Jamie Lovemark, the defending NCAA champion who has made the cut in all three of his previous starts in PGA Tour events, has a decent shot at going four-for-four this week at the Buick Invitational. He stands tied for 71st after shooting an opening-round 73 on Torrey Pines' South Course (considered the more difficult). Lovemark, a native of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., received a sponsor's exemption into the event after finishing T-39 in the tournament a year ago after Monday qualifying.

The outlook is not quite as bright, however, for UC-Irvine senior Kenny Kim, the other collegian in the field. Kim's seven-over 79 on the South Course puts him tied for 151st, one stroke out of last place. Kim got into the field when he won the amateur qualifying tournament last October.

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TOURNAMENTS TO WATCH

__MEN

Ping/Arizona Intercollegiate__

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

Arizona National GC, Tucson (Par 71, 6,900 yards)

Jan. 28-29

Host:Arizona

Field: Arizona, Brigham Young, California, UC-Irvine, East Tennessee State, Georgia Southern, Long Beach State, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, UNLV, Washington

Defending champion: UNLV (23-under 829); Brian Prouty, Arizona (14-under 199)__

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