News & ToursNovember 5, 2009

This week's syllabus: Nov. 5-11

__THE FAB FIVE

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

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__MEN

__[#image: /photos/55ad7237add713143b423a26]|||Thumbnail image for Oklahoma-state-logo-latest.jpg|||1. Oklahoma State (Last week: 1)

The Cowboys' hot start in the 2009-10 season is surprisingly something of a rarity. The last time OSU won two stroke-play tournaments during its fall schedule was back in the 1994-95 season when the squad claimed three team titles (Tucker Invitational, Red River Classic, Golf World/Palmetto Dunes).

Next event: Gifford Collegiate Championship at CordeValle, CordeValle CC, San Martin, Calif., Nov. 9-11

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Among the bright spots for the Cardinal this fall: a return of form for Sihwan Kim. After a first-team All-American season as a freshman, he saw his scoring average dip to 74.05 last year. At the start of his junior year, Kim leads the team with a 72.11 average with top-10 finishes in his last two starts.

Next event: Gifford Collegiate Championship at CordeValle, CordeValle CC, San Martin, Calif., Nov. 9-11

3. Texas A&M (3)

Five different Aggies posted top-10 finishes in varsity events this fall, pointing to the fact that Oklahoma State isn't the only school in the Big 12 that has depth on its side. Meanwhile, the team's collective ball striking has been impressive, as A&M's greens in regulation number within 15 feet of the hole is 33.3 percent.

Next event: Fall season completed

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The Sun Devils are a team whose stats are be deceiving. ASU hit only 59.5 percent of its fairways and 59.7 percent of its greens in regulation this fall. The team's birdie conversion rate was also a so-so 21.7 percent (65th out of 115 teams that track the statistic). Their poor finish at Isleworth is the likely reason their numbers are low, but their performance at Olympia Fields tells you all you need to know about this group's potential.

Next event: Fall season completed

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With four top-10 finishes this fall, senior Nick Taylor has 21 for his career, putting him second in school history behind Brock Mackenzie's 32. Taylor needs just one more individual win, however, to pass Mackenzie for the school's career victory mark; the two are currently tied with four.

Next event: Fall season completed

__WOMEN

__[#image: /photos/55ad7237b01eefe207f68cec]|||Thumbnail image for Arizona State logo 2008-09.gif|||1. Arizona State (1)

Freshman Jennifer Johnson has been as good as advertised, carding three top-10 finishes in her first three college starts. The La Quinta, Calif., native has yet to make a double bogey in her eight college rounds, shooting par or better in five of them. Better yet, she appears to have fit in seamlessly with the returning starters on the Sun Devils' squad.

Next event: Fall season completed

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Difficult conditions made final-round comeback at Turtle Bay Collegiate Invitational a challenge, particularly too with Sydnee Michaels out of the lineup. Still, the Bruins have yet to finish worse than second in four starts this season, which is hard to complain about.

Next event: Fall season completed

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The Tigers sport the second-best final-round scoring average in the country, thanks in large part to a nation's best 69.5 closing average from Cydney Clanton. They're also leading the country in par-4 scoring with a 4.1 team average. Best of all for Auburn fans: the team has a 14-1 head-to-head record versus SEC opponents this fall.

Next event: Fall season completed

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__[#image: /photos/55ad7237b01eefe207f68cf1]|||Thumbnail image for Purdue 2008-09 logo.gif|||4. Purdue (5)

Only quibble you can have with the Boilermakers is regarding their schedule, which ranks 44th in the country, highest of any squad inside Golfstat's top 20 ranking. With two players in the top 10 in the Golfstat Cup ranking (Maude-Aimee LeBlanc, No. 3;Numa Gulyanamitta, No. 10), you get the feeling they'd be having this much success regardless of their competition.

Next event: Fall season completed

5. Texas A&M (NR)

The Aggies were 21 shots back of the leaders after Round 1 of the Challenge at Onion Creek, but proceeded to break a 27-year-old school record with an five-under 275 in Round 2 and then shot a two-under 278 in the final round to take the team title by three strokes. It was A&M's second victory of the fall (they also won their rain-shortened home event in September) and fourth top-five finish in five starts, suggesting it's not just the guys who can play some golf in College Station.

Next event: Fall season completed

STAT OF THE WEEK

7

Number of fall tournament victories Wichita State senior Dustin Garza has claimed in his last 10 starts, stretching over the past two seasons.

Just call the 21-year-old from Mission, Texas "The Fall Guy" as his numbers in events played from September through November the past two years have been eye-popping:

YEAR    Starts    Wins   Top-5s    Rds    Rds2008          5          3           5         15          11        68.53

2009          5          4           4         15          10        70.27

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

  • The San Francisco women's team lost an eight-stroke lead during the final round of this week's Challenge at Onion Creek, finishing second to Texas A&M. Still, the Dons had another impressive tournament under first-year coach (and former NCAA individual champion) Sarah Huarte. During the tournament in Austin, Texas, USF shattered its 18-hole scoring record by 18 strokes when the team shot a opening-round 15-under 265 (Tina Johannsdottir posted a 64, Natasha Podmore a 65 and Danielle Cvitanov a 66). The Dons' two-over 842 total also broke their 54-hole scoring mark.

Huarte's bunch has had an up and down fall, finishing 14th at the Dick McGuire and the Stanford Intercollegiate, but their runner-up finish at Onion Creek and a fourth-place showing at the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational suggests their upside is better than most might have thought. If nothing else, fellow West Coast Conference rival Pepperdine will need to take the squad seriously come next spring when the post-season gets under way.

  • Today is the fourth round of the 90-hole Duramed Futures Tour Qualifying School and a handful of collegians playing as amateurs are in good position to secure playing status for 2010. Michigan State senior Laura Kueny is tied for second place at eight-under 208, one stroke back of leader Danielle Mills. Oklahoma State freshman__Jane Rah__ is tied for 19th, along with TCU senior Valentine Derry and New Mexico senior Jodi Ewart. Just how many people will earn full playing status won't be determined until after the final stage of LPGA Qualifying School in December.

  • The early college signing period for high school seniors begins Nov. 11 (and runs through Nov. 18), but don't expect much in the way of surprises regarding which blue-chip recruits are headed where, particularly on the boys side. The rash of early verbal commitments has meant any last minute drama about the choice of a school has essentially gone the way of persimmon.

Here is where some of the top boys and girls are expected to sign:

BOYS

Byeong-Hun An, California

Patrick Cantlay, UCLA

Austin Cody, Duke

Talor Gooch, Oklahoma State

Logan Harrell, South Carolina

Jeffrey Kang, USC

Yarsolav Merkulov, Duke

Patrick Winther, Oklahoma State

Cory Whitsett, Alabama

Cameron Wilson, Stanford

Bobby Wyatt, Alabama

GIRLS

Danielle Frasier, Stanford

Ani Gulugian, UCLA

Rachel Morris, USC

Danielle Kang, Pepperdine

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TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

MEN

St. Mary's Invitational

__Poppy Hills GC, Pebble Beach, Calif. (Par 72, 6,857 yards)

Nov. 9-10

Host: St. Mary's (Calif.)

Field: Cal Poly, Denver, Fresno State, Loyola Marymount, Marquette, Memphis, Nevada, Oregon State, Pacific, Portland, St. Mary's, San Diego, San Francisco, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Wisconsin

Defending champion: San Francisco (three-over 855) by five strokes over Wisconsin; San Francisco's Domingo Jojola (six-under 207) by one stroke over UC Irvine's Bryan Harris

Skinny: Fourth year that Poppy Hills plays host to the tournament.

__Gifford Collegiate Championship at CordeValle

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

CordeValle CC, San Martin, Calif.

Nov. 9-11

Host: UCLA

Field: Arizona, Augusta State, Colorado, Charlotte, Duke, Lamar, Long Beach State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Stanford, UCLA, USC

Defending champion: USC (even-par 1,080) by 26 strokes over Stanford; USC's Tim Sluiter and Washington's Nick Taylor (four-under 212) shared medalist honors

Skinny: The fifth-year event was renamed this year in honor of Jack Gifford, a long-time UCLA booster who died unexpectedly last January.

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