The Loop

This week's syllabus: May 1-7


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




The Crimson Tide were getting recognized for their success off the course this week; Joseph Sykora was recently named the top male student-athlete for all sports in the SEC. He's in graduate school and continues to maintain a perfect 4.0 GPA. Additional Stewart Whitt makes the SEC Golf Community Service team.

Next event: NCAA Regionals, Site TBD, May 15-17



A playoff loss to Arizona State yesterday at the Pac-10s slows the momentum the Trojans have been building ... put likely makes them even more hungry for the NCAA postseason.

Next event: NCAA Regionals, Site TBD, May 15-17



No surprise that Rickie Fowler shoots a 68 in the final round at Big 12s to help the Cowboys win conference title No. 51. But the thing that should have OSU fans most pleased is how Kevin Tway's solid play is starting to translate into lower scores.

Next event: The Maxwell, Dornick Hills CC, Ardmore, Okla., May 10-11



Fourth place at Pac-10s sounds like a disappointment (and I'm sure the Bruins might feel that way too) but they did finish only five strokes out of the playoff with Arizona State and USC.

Next event: NCAA Regionals, Site TBD, May 15-17



Seminoles have showed a solid short game in 2007-08, averaging 30.23 putts per player per round. All-American candidate Jonas Blixt has a 28.69 average, ranking him among the nation's top 10 individually.

Next event: NCAA Regionals, Site TBD, May 15-17




Added former Kent State golfer Jan Dowling to staff as an assistant coach, replacing Kalen Anderson who left in January to take the top job at South Carolina. Could be a very interesting first month on the job as the Blue Devils try for the historic fourth-straight NCAA title.

Next event: NCAA East Regional, University of Georgia GC, Athens, Ga., May 8-10



The Trojans' run of Central Regional titles will end at two, thanks to being the top seed in the West this season. Something tells me they'll be just fine if they start a new streak at Lincoln Hills.

Next event: NCAA West Regional, Lincoln Hills GC, Lincoln, Calif, May 8-10



The Gators lead the country in par-5 scoring average (4.94) and in birdies (342). An explanation? They hit 30.5 percent of greens in regulation within 15 feet of the hole.

Next event: NCAA East Regional, University of Georgia GC, Athens, Ga., May 8-10



Coach Carrie Forsyth said she's fine with being sent to Texas for regionals, explaining that playing a tough course like the one in Austin suits her team well. The goal now is to get team rolling the ball better on the greens.

Next event: NCAA Central Regional, University of Texas GC, Austin, Texas, May 8-10



Four starters earn all-Big Ten honors after the Boilermakers impressively claim the conference title this past weekend. Maria Hernandez is the first Purdue player to claim medalist honors, which helps her earn the Big Ten player of the year award for a second consecutive season.

Next event: NCAA Central Regional, University of Texas GC, Austin, Texas, May 8-10




Holes in one shot on the par-3 150-yard 11th hole during the second round of the Pac-10 Championship this past week at The Meadow Club in Fairfax, Calif. Accomplishing the feat are Stanford's Steve Ziegler, UCLA's Erik Flores, Washington State's Jordan Mason and Oregon State's Diego Velasquez.



1.) Amidst the height of the conference championship season, there has been a different kind of competition going on between schools on the recruiting front. In recent weeks, several programs have inked various golfers sending in the national letters of intent during the late signing period that began April 8 to come and play next fall. Three particular notables on the women's side have been announced:

Arizona State women: Carlota Ciganda (Ladies British Amateur champion, will start in spring 2009)

Georgia women: Marta Silva (member of the Spanish National team)

Pepperdine women: Lisa McCloskey (three-time AJGA All-American)

That McCloskey, who graduated from high school a year earlier than expected, is going out west was a particular disappointment for Texas and coach Martha Richards, who had been hoping  the Montgomery, Texas, native would be inclined to stay in the Lone Star State.

More than 250,000 cubic yards of soil was brought in, and the L-shaped facility sits about 30 feet above the adjacent second hole. There is an eight-inch sand cap; and more than 37 miles of drain pipe; and 500 sprinkler heads.

Particularly distinct are the six practice greens complexes, each inspired by a different design style that Stanford's teams play on a regular basis and having with intrinsic grasses and sand textures. (They've been dubbed "Road Game Greens." (Total green size is about 36,000 square feet. (By comparison, all 18 greens at Pebble Beach comprise 58,000.)

"We wanted to create a competitive advantage," said Jay Blasi, the Stanford project director for RTJII, which has its international headquarters virtually next door in Palo Alto. "The players can practice here what they will see around the country, in the spirit of the architects whose courses they will play regularly."

Suffice it to say, I think when schools look to add such amenitities down the road, among the first places they'll look is in Palo Alto.

Jonas Blixt, Florida State

Scott Borrowman, Sterling (Scotland)

Johnnie Caldwell, South Alabama

Jorge Campillo, Indiana

Jonas Enander-Hedin, Charlotte

Charlie Ford, Tennessee

Gareth Shaw, East Tennessee State

Tim Sluiter, Southern California

Blixt, Campillo and Shaw competed in last year's matches at Caves Valley. The European team--who will be coached by__Marten Olander__ of Sweden--trails the series, 6-4-1.





(Updated Conference Champions chart below)




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

Orange County National

Winter Garden, Fla.

May 2-4

__Field:Charlotte, Dayton, Duquesne, Fordham, George Washington, La Salle, Rhode Island, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph's, Temple, Xavier

Defending champion: Charlotte (40-under 824) by nine strokes over Xavier; Matt Mincer, Charlotte (14-under 202) by two over Charlotte's Andrew DiBitetto

Skinny: __Charlotte is looking to become the first team to "three-peat" at the conference championship since Penn State did it in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Even without the services of senior Trevor Murphy, who Monday qualified to play in this week's Wachovia Championship on the PGA Tour and thus will be missing from the 49ers starting five tomorrow, it's hard to not to like Jamie Green's squad.



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

Longaberger GC

Nashport, Ohio

May 2-4

__Field:__Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green State, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo

__ Defending champion: Eastern Michigan (14-under 1,138) by three strokes over Akron; Graham Hill, Eastern Michigan (11-under 277) by four strokes over Akron's Brad Wright

Skinny: __I'm thinking Golden Flashes return to the winner's circle, earning their ninth MAC title in 12 years, but Eastern will put up a good defense.




Hershey Links

Hershey, Pa.

May 2-4

__Field:Central Connecticut State, Fairleigh Dickinson, Long Island, Monmouth, Mount St. Mary's, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis (N.Y.), St. Francis (Pa.), Wagner

Defending champion: __Monmouth (38-over 902) by one stroke over St. Francis (Pa.); Patrick Kelly, LIU (one-over 217) by one stroke over Monmouth's Anthony Campanile

__Skinny:__It's a wide open affair, really, as the conference's 11 coaches picked five different teams as favorites heading into the season.