News & ToursJanuary 31, 2008

This week's syllabus: Jan. 31-Feb. 6

THE FAB FIVE

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

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  1. Charlotte __ (Last week's ranking: 2)

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The 49ers currently have the best winning percentage in the country (60-2, .968) and the lowest adjusted scoring average of any team (70.49). Plus, they hit 77.8 percent of their fairways as a team and 69.6 percent of greens in regulation.

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

2. Alabama (3)

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Including play in junior varsity events, eight of the nine Crimson Tide players to compete in the fall posted top-10 finishes. Meanwhile, the squad has a final-round stroke average of 71.55 (286.2 team total).

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

3. Tennessee (NR)

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After closing the fall with a victory at the Turtle Bay Classic, the Volunteers picked up where they left off with a three-stroke victory over UNLV at the Ping/Arizona Intercollegiate Tuesday. Best news of all for coach Jim Kelson: all five players finished in the top 21 individually.

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

__4. Georgia __ (4)

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The Bulldogs' average drop score through the fall was 75.03, best in the country. Only concern would be that the team started slow in the fall (sixth-place showing in the Carpet Capital Classic).

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

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  1. UCLA __ (1)

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The Bruins are perfect no more with a third-place finish at the Ping/Arizona event, 15 strokes off of Tennessee's winning pace. (Blame it on a poor first round.) Senior Kevin Chappell held up his end of the bargain, however, with a 15-under 198 showing that included a closing-round 64, good enough for his fourth college title.

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

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  1. Duke__ (1)

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Give the Blue Devils their due: Their schedule is ranked third in the country, lowest of all but one school in the latest Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll. Moreover, just one other top-five team has a schedule ranked better than 10th.

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

2. Arizona State (2)

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In the last two seasons, the Sun Devils have won or finished second in their first two tournaments of the spring.

Next event: Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, Palos Verdes GC, Palos Verdes, Calif., Feb. 11-13

3. UCLA (3)

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The Bruins went 34-4 against top-25 opponents this fall, second only to Duke.

Next event: Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, Palos Verdes GC, Palos Verdes, Calif., Feb. 11-13

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  1. USC (4)

Two Trojans--Belen Mozo and Lizette Sales--have hit more than 90 percent of their fairways in the fall, according to Golfstat.

Next event: Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, Palos Verdes GC, Palos Verdes, Calif., Feb. 11-13

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  1. Auburn (5)

The Tigers have the benefit of a new practice facility that's just opened in the past few months to help them during the off-season.

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/NGCA coaches' poll that have a winning percentage worse than .500. No. 21 New Mexico is .493 (33-34-3) and No. 23 Stanford is .369 (24-41). (Luckily for them, there is not ".500 rule" being used by the NCAA women's golf committee to determine at-large teams eligible for regionals.

__STAT OF THE WEEK, PART II

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Number of teams ranked in the final fall Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll that had winning percentages worse than .500 against other top-25 ranked teams. The lowest of these 12 was No. 25 TCU at .083 (2-22).

__STAT OF THE WEEK, PART III

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Number of teams ranked in the final fall Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll that had an equal or better record against other top-25 ranked teams than against all opponents. (Two teams did on the men's side).



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WHAT TO WATCH FOR__

  • As if trying to replace the best player in school history--outgoing Dustin Johnson, who was the lone player straight out of college to earn a PGA Tour card last December at Q school--wasn't hard enough, Coastal Carolina men's coach Allen Terrell now must deal with the loss of senior Zack Byrd, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last month while playing ... racquet ball. Whether Byrd will be able to play at all this spring remains in doubt; he had surgery, according to a report in the Myrtle Beach Sun and has been told the rehab could take four to five months. While he only had one top-20 finish this past fall, he was a veteran of last year's Chanticleer squad that played in the final group at the NCAA Championship.

Just how Coastal, one of the notable mid-major schools that has become a top-25 program in recent years, moves forward will be interesting, seeing as the squad was inconsistent this past fall with just one top-five finish in four starts and a .354 winning percentage overall. Terrell will know soon enough how his team will respond as it begins the spring season at next week's Gator Invitational, followed with a spot in the field at the John Hayt Intercollegiate the following weekend.

  • It's not a player injury but indifference that has Central Florida men's coach Nick Clinard scrambling. The Golden Knights coach learned earlier this week that heralded freshman Jhared Hack, the 2007 Western Amateur champion, was leaving school and turning professional after just one semester of college golf. Hack reportedly didn't think college was the best place to develop his game and has signed with Vantage Sports Management.

TOURNAMENTS TO WATCH

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University of Hawaii-Hilo Invitational

Waikoloa Village GC, Waikoloa, Hawaii

Feb. 6-8

Host: Hawaii-Hilo

Field: Arizona State, CSU-Bakersfield, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Hawaii-Hilo, Hawaii-Manoa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Pacific, Santa Clara, Southern California, Stanford, TCU, Texas Tech, UC Davis, Washington.

Defending champion: Stanford (37-under 803, won tiebreaker over Oklahoma State); Jonathan Moore, Oklahoma State (15-under 195)

Skinny: The name of the game in this tournament, known by most as the "Big Island Invite" and now in its 18th year, is to go low; the team champion has been 23 under or lower each of the past four years. In 2005 Oklahoma State won with a 63-under 801 score.

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