The Loop

This Week's Syllabus: March 17-23


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



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1. Oklahoma State (Last week: 1)

As I wrote in Golf World this week, the Cowboys don't always play like the dominant program in the country, but when big titles are on the line, they tend to step up. Happened again at Southern Highlands this past weekend, when OSU made a great final-round charge to claim the title. Medalist Morgan Hoffmann gets the W in the box score for keeping the squad lurking the first two days, with saves going to Peter Uihlein and Kevin Tway for their help in closing the event on Sunday.

Next event: The Duck Invitational, Eugene CC, Eugene, Ore., March 21-22


2. Alabama (3)

The season gets a little more interesting with the reports of Bud Cauley making this his last in Tuscaloosa. Seems to me there's probably a bit more immediacy now for this group.

Next event: Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship, Hawks Ridge GC, Ball Ground, Ga., March 20-22


3. UCLA (2)

No alarm in dropping one spot here from last week. Patrick Cantlay's fine play continues and the Bruins' fourth-place showing at Southern Highlands wasn't a bad finish. It's just that the top level of the men's game is pretty competitive right now.

Next event: Administaff Augusta State Invitational, Forest Hills GC, Augusta, Ga., April 2-3


4. Florida (5)

Tough final-round conditions at Bandon Dunes made a closing charge pretty tough for anyone trailing Washington. Buddy Alexander might have considered it a bad day, but placing four players in the top 20 of a tournament wasn't too shabby, even if the Gators ultimately finished third. Now heading to Alexander's old stomping ground. Should be a neat match-up with Auburn in this Schenkel field as well.

Next event: Schenkel Invitational, Forest Heights CC, Statesboro, Ga., March 18-20


5. Augusta State (NR)

When is a win more than just a win? You might be looking at it with the Jaguars' triumph at the General Jim Hackler earlier this week. With Henrik Norlander claiming medalist honors, the team's victory has the potential to be a momentum-inducing turn of events that could get people talking about the team as a legitimate threat to repeat at NCAA champions.

Next event: Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate, Bulls Bay GC, Awendaw, S.C., March 27-29



1. USC (Last week: 1)

Despite seemingly being anchored in the top five of the national polls in recent years, the Trojans are coming off back-to-back wins for the first time since the 2007-2008 season when they closed with four straight victories, including the NCAA title.

Next event: The Battle at Rancho Bernardo Inn, Rancho Bernardo Inn Golf Resort, San Diego, March 20-22


2. Alabama (2)

The Crimson Tide were playing so well for so long that a little lapse might have been expected. (And most teams, by the way, would take this "lapse" and call it a good season.) Stephanie Meadow's break out seems for real and Camila Lennarth and Jennifer Kirby have time to regain form.

Next event: Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic, University of Georgia GC, Athens, Ga., April 1-3


3. UCLA (3)

Only once this season, at the NCAA Fall Preview in September, have the Bruins played in a tournament where they haven't had at least one player post a top-five finish. And only twice have they not had two players with top-10s. Meanwhile, five different players have had top-10s during the year. It's not just consistency here. It's being consistently good.

*Next event: *The Battle at Rancho Bernardo Inn, Rancho Bernardo Inn Golf Resort, San Diego, March 20-22


4. California (4)

Great test in store for the Bears in heading to San Diego. This will be the best field they'll compete this spring until the postseason. The chemistry among Nancy McDaniel's charges, particularly her top four players—Pia Halbig, Emily Childs, Daniela Holmqvist and Joanne Lee—is extremely good, which bodes well for the remainder of the spring.   __ __

Next event: The Battle at Rancho Bernardo Inn, Rancho Bernardo Inn Golf Resort, San Diego, March 20-22


__5. Arizona State __(NR)

Maybe it wasn't the toughest field that the Sun Devils have faced this spring, but considering this team is still just three-months-old, winning the Dr. Donnis Thompson event this week by 15 strokes over rival Arizona is pretty impressive. Melissa Luellen's candidacy for coach of the year is starting to grow.

Next event: The Battle at Rancho Bernardo Inn, Rancho Bernardo Inn Golf Resort, San Diego, March 20-22




Number of players among the top 10 Division I women's golfers in the Golfstat Cup ranking that have transferred to their current schools. (Lisa McCloskey, USC from Pepperdine; Lee Lopez, UCLA from Long Beach State; Joanne Lee, California from USC)



__I am not Irish, but my wife is and thus so is my daughter Caroline. Is it disrespectful that I forgot to wear green today?



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With this weekend's inaugural Battle at Rancho Bernardo Inn event, it appears she's done the same thing at San Diego State. The tournament has 11 teams from the most recent Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll in the field including six of the top 10. Not exactly sure what her secret is, but it definitely needs to be copied.




Desert Shootout__

Palm Valley GC, Goodyear, Ariz.

March 17-19

Host: Denver

Field: Boise State, BYU, Denver, Houston, Iowa State, North Texas, Northern Colorado, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Saint Mary's (Calif.), Southern Utah, TCU, Tulsa, VCU, Wyoming

Defending champions: Wichita State (-9/855) in playoff over Kansas; Wichita State's Dustin Garza (-14/202) by three strokes over Kansas' Nate Barbee

__Skinny:__Getting to be crunch time for TCU (33-50-3 overall record) if it wants to avoid being a victim of the ".500 rule" and be eligible as an at-large selection for NCAA regionals.

__Furman Intercollegiate

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

Furman University GC, Greenville, S.C.

March 18-20

Host: Furman

__Field:__Charleston Southern, Chattanooga, Clemson, Davidson, East Carolina, Elon, Francis Marion, Furman, Gardner-Webb, Kennesaw State, Louisville, Marshall, Presbyterian, Purdue, Samford, Temple, Troy, UNC Wilmington, Virginia Tech, Western Carolina, Winthrop, Wofford

Defending champions: Clemson (+1/865) by 14 strokes over Chattanooga; Clemson's Ben Martin and Chattanooga's Steven Fox (-6/210)

Skinny: Past individual winners have included Curtis Strange (Wake Forest, 1974), Jay Haas (Wake Forest, 1975), Mark Calcaveecchia (Florida, 1979), Brad Faxon (Furman, 1983), Billy Andrade (Wake Forest, 1985), Charlie Rymer (Georgia Tech, 1987), David Duval (Georgia Tech, 1991) and Matt Kuchar (Georgia Tech, 1997).

__Schenkel Invitational

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

Forrest Heights CC, Statesboro, Ga.

March 18-20

Field: Auburn, Florida, Georgia Southern, Kentucky, LSU, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mississippi State, North Carolina, N.C. State, North Florida, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia

Defending champions: Auburn (-2/862) by one stroke over North Florida; Mississippi's Jonathan Randolph (-5/211) in playoff over Alabama's Hunter Hamrick and North Florida's Jordan Gibb

Skinny: Remains one of the top notch tournaments of the spring calendar.

__Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship

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

Hawks Ridge CC, Ball Ground, Ga.

March 20-22

Host: GCAA

Field (by seeding): UCLA, Alabama, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Texas A&M, Iowa, Texas, Georgia, Texas Tech, Duke, USC, Pacific, Baylor, Washington State, East Tennessee State, South Carolina

Defending champions: New Mexico df. USC, 3-2

Skinny: Take that March Madness! College golf's own brackets give schools a little more practice with team match play.

__National Invitational Tournament

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

Omni Tucson National, Tucson

March 21-22

Host: Arizona

Field: Arizona, Baylor, California, Colorado State, Houston, Kent State, New Mexico, SMU, TCU, Texas, Tulsa, UNLV, UTEP, Wyoming

Defending champions: TCU (-12/852) by 10 strokes over Texas; Texas' Dylan Frittelli (-6/210) by three strokes over Colorado State's Bryce Hanstad and Baylor's Joakim Mikkelsen

Skinny: And if TCU hasn't made up some ground at the Desert Shootout ... here's another opportunity.

__The Duck Invitational

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

Eugene CC, Eugene, Ore.

March 21-22

Host: Oregon

Field: Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Pepperdine, Portland, Rice, San Francisco, San Jose State, Santa Clara, UAB, UC Davis, Washington

Defending champions: Oregon (-7/1,073) by seven strokes over Arkansas; Oregon's Daniel Miernicki (-7/209) by two strokes over Oregon's Eugene Wong and Idaho's Stefan Richardson

__Skinny:__Oklahoma State has momentum from the Las Vegas win, but Washington and Oregon are ready to defend the pride of the Pacific Northwest. ... Playing five-count-four this year.



The Battle at Rancho Bernardo Inn

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

Rancho Bernardo GC, Rancho Bernardo, Calif.

March 20-22

Field: Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, California, Denver, Georgia, New Mexico, Oregon, Pepperdine, Purdue, San Diego State, TCU, Texas, UC Davis, UCLA, UNLV, USC

Defending champions: New event

Skinny: Heavyweight tilt will be nice barometer for schools as the postseason draws closer.

__John Kirk/Panther Intercollegiate

__Eagles Landing GC, Stockbridge, Ga.

March 21-22

Field: Arkansas State, Daytona State, East Tennessee State, Georgia State, James Madison, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Middle Tennessee State, Murray State, Notre Dame, UCF, Western Carolina, Xavier

Defending champions: Georgia State (+41/905) by 14 strokes over Daytona State and Arkansas-Little Rock; Georgia State's Cathrine Madsen (+5/221) by three strokes over Daytona State's Mitsuki Katahira

__Skinny:__Nice mix of teams from several conferences.

__BYU at Entrada Classic

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

Entrada at Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah

March 21-22

Host: BYU

Field: BYU, Colorado State, Illinois, Kansas State, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Oklahoma State, SMU, Southern Utah, Texas State, Tulsa, UT-San Antonio, Weber State, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Defending champions: San Diego State (+26/890) by 15 strokes over Louisville; BYU's Maggie Yuan (-2/214) by one stroke over Louisville's Daphne Parker

__Skinny:__Oklahoma State is reeling this spring. Can the Cowgirls stop the bleeding in Utah?