This week's syllabus: Nov. 8-14
__THE FAB FIVE
My look at the top five teams in the country right now
The Bruins personified the phrase "Better late than never," by winning all three tournaments on their compact fall schedule after claiming the CordeValle Collegiate yesterday, beating top-10 ranked Pac-10 rivals Stanford and USC among others.
2. Charlotte (3)
To close a tremendous fall season, the 49ers claimed win No. 4 yesterday at the SSC Pacific Invitational when their counting scorers (Jonas Enander Hedin,Stefan Wiedergruen,Andrew DiBitetto and Trevor Murphy) shot a 17-under 271 for the round and six under on the final three holes to pull out a two-shot win over Kansas State. Maybe you hadn't heard of the 49ers in August but you certain know about them now.
__3. Alabama __ (1)
Four Crimson Tide players have stroke averages of 72.0 or lower for the fall, explaining the team's three wins and five top-five showings. Loads of experience in Tuscaloosa has them eyeing their first SEC crown since 1979, if not even bigger titles.
4. Georgia (4)
The Bulldogs have the nation's best adjusted scoring average (70.84) and the lowest average drop score (75.13). Guess replacing first-team All-Americans Chris Kirk and Brendon Todd wasn't so tough after all.
5. USC (5)
The Trojans never really seemed to hit on all cylinders this fall, yet had three different players post top-10 finishes. If they can improve on their final-round stroke average (team ranks 134th with a 74.67 average among the entire roster), be wary of the men of Troy.
The Blue Devils once again had no match at the Hooters Collegiate Match Play, winning the event for the fourth time in five years (the fifth year, they didn't play in the event). Third win of the fall puts the three-time defending NCAA champions ahead of last year's pace.
__2. Arizona State __(2)
Showed they could hang with Duke with their come-from-behind victory against them at the Stanford Intercollegiate. The Sun Devils play just one spring tournament with Duke in the same field: the Wildcat Invitational in Tucson next February.
__3. UCLA __ (3)
Successful fall campaign included two wins (Mason Rudolph, Kent Youel) and top-five ranking in par-3 (3.13), par-4 (4.12) and par-5 (4.95) scoring.
__4. USC __(4)
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Oct. 30-Nov. 4
Brent Long__, Western Kentucky
The senior's third fall win came in record-setting fashion as he shot a school-best 16-under 200 to win the UTSA Roadrunner Invitational. Long's one-stroke victory came after a final-round 63 at Comanche Trail GC.
Katie Kempter__, Denver
After tying her career-best with a first-round 67 at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown, the junior shot 69-72 at Angel Park GC for an eight-under 208 and her first full-field college win. The Pioneers won the team title, beating Arizona by 11.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Career records of Duke senior Jennifer Pandolfi and junior Amanda Blumenherst, respectively, in the Hooters Collegiate Match Play Championship. The two each were 3-0-1 this past week at the Ginn Reunion Resort in Kissimmee, Fla., helping the Blue Devils knock off TCU (4-1), Oklahoma State (3-1-1), Tennessee (3-1-1) and Georgia (3-1-1).
STAT OF THE WEEK, TAKE 2__
The number of rounds (out of 15 total played) by University of Tennessee men's golfers at this week's Turtle Bay Invitational in Hawaii that were over par. Each of the starting five competing for the Volunteers finished in the top 13 as UT cruised to a 21-shot victory after posting a 64-under 800. Charles Ford earned a share of medalist honors (with UC Irvine's Sean Shahi) after shooting a 16-under 200. Ford was joined by Robin Wingardh, Chris Paisley and Philip Pettitt in posting three sub-par rounds. Only David Holmes had an over-par round, a second-round 74, that he made amends for by shooting a third-round 62. For good measure, Ben Spickard played as an individual for Tennessee and shot two sub-par rounds as well.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
â¿¢ Don't expect any real surprises next Wednesday as high school seniors begin to sign their national letters of intent and officially commit to various college golf programs for fall 2008. Nearly all the top-ranked boys and girls have made their intentions know months ago (see list below). The only real hold-out has been Vicky Hurst, the AJGA girls player of the year, who isn't sure if she's going to go to college or turn professional. Hurst told Florida Today that she likely will not sign with any of her five top choices (Duke, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Florida and Georgia) during the early signing period, but would make a decision on going to college or not next month. Meanwhile, the 17-year-old from Melbourne, Fla., is competing this week at the Duramed Futures Tour Qualifying School.
"It's such a big decision. That's why it's taking so long,'' Hurst told the Lakeland Ledger after opening the tournament with an even-par 72 at Cleveland Heights GC. "By the end of this week, I'll have a better idea. And I'll see where my game is at the end of the year."
Boys AJGA first-team All-Americans (rank according to Polo Golf Ranking)*__
Girls AJGA first-team All-Americans*__
Sydney Burlison, Stanford;Brianna Do, UCLA
â¿¢ The list of freshman who've played well this fall (Oklahoma State's Rickie Fowler; Georgia's__Harris English__; Central Florida's Jhared Hack, etc.) got one deeper yesterday after Pepperdine's Andrew Putnamshot a 63 in the final round of the Turtle Bay Invitational to finish in third place with a 15-under 201. This came after a runner-up finish in his only other start of the fall, at the Pepperdine Club Glove Invitational. Putnam is the younger brother of PGA Tour pro and former Waves All-American Michael Putnam and has already topped his older sibling in just six college rounds; Michael's low 18-hole college showing was a 64. Andrew's 63 ties the school record set by Jason Allred in 2000. Suffice it to say, keep an eye on the younger Putnam this spring as the race for national freshman of the year heats up.
â¿¢ Sad to hear that Bob Livingstone is going to retire as the Long Beach State men's coach at the end of the 2007-08 season after 14 years. Livingstone hasn't won any national titles since taking over from legendary coach Del Walker in 1994, but he has been a standout coach who chaired the NCAA Division I men's golf committee and has been involved in helping spread the game throughout the Long Beach community through his "Golf: For Business and Life" program.
"With the help of so many of you, the program has grown into something that causes pride in all of us, as well as in the community and at the university," he noted in a press release last week. "I am extremely proud of the 35 young men who have earned their college degrees while representing Long Beach State in the past 14 years."
Livingstone was kind to this writer when I was first learning the beat, never getting tired of many of my obscure questions. He also set a great example for his players and others regarding taking action in their lives. When Livingstone wasn't satisfied with the local government in Long Beach a few years back, he actually decided to run for mayor. He didn't win, but showed that if you don't like something, don't wait for somebody else to do something about it; why not do it yourself.