Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)

The Loop

This Week's Syllabus: Sept. 16-22

September 16, 2010

__The Fab Five


Same starting five as at the NCAA Championship, but minus the coach. Josh Gregory is staying back home in Augusta to be with his wife and new baby boy, born Monday, leaving coaching duties for the fall opener to Kevin McPherson.

Fall opener: Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational, Olympia Fields CC, Olympia Fields, Ill., Sept. 17-19

Line-up at Olympia Fields includes usually suspects (Uihlein,Hoffmann,Tway) plus redshirt freshman Kevin Dougherty and true freshman Talor Gooch.

Fall opener: Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational, Olympia Fields CC, Olympia Fields, Ill., Sept. 17-19

3. Alabama (NR)

Crimson Tide wins the Carpet Capital for the third time in four years. Impressive debuts from rookies Bobby Wyatt and Cory Whitsett have to have coach Jay Seawell optimistic.

Fall opener: Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational, Olympia Fields CC, Olympia Fields, Ill., Sept. 17-19


The Cardinal head to Chicago-land for the fifth straight year (minus David Chung, who stayed back at school to handle some personal issues) but have had mixed results. After finishing second the first year of the event at Olympia Fields, Conrad Ray's squads have gone fifth, fourth and fourth in the tournament.

Fall opener: Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational, Olympia Fields CC, Olympia Fields, Ill., Sept. 17-19

5. Oregon (5)

The thing that impressed me most about the Ducks at the end of last year was they're laid-back attitude. There was no tension being in the hunt at the NCAA Championship. This loose group enjoys playing golf, which should serve them well again this time around.

Fall opener: Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational, Washington National GC, Auburn, Wash., Sept. 20-21


Impressive victory at the NCAA Fall Preview helps get the 2010-11 season off to a great start. Having seen Purdue claim the NCAA title last spring, and finishing third themselves, the Crimson Tide gained confidence that an upstart can contend for a nationally.

Next event: Mason Rudolph Women's Championship, Vanderbilt Legends Club, Franklin, Tenn, Sept. 24-26

2. USC (2)

Solid start for the Trojans at the Preview, finishing in third place. Andrea Gaston's crew is still in the "getting-to-know-you" phase with all the newcomers in L.A. this fall.

Next event: Mason Rudolph Women's Championship, Vanderbilt Legends Club, Franklin, Tenn, Sept. 24-26

3. Purdue (1)

Tenth place showing at the NCAA Preview wasn't exactly how the Boilermakers pictured their first time out as reigning NCAA champions might go, but it's just one event. Most disappointing thing might have been that only once did a Purdue player break par (Maude-Aimee LeBlanc's final round 71) on a course that saw fairly low scoring.

Next event: Mason Rudolph Women's Championship, Vanderbilt Legends Club, Franklin, Tenn, Sept. 24-26


The Tigers gave Alabama all it could handle down the stretch at the NCAA Preview, losing out by one stroke. The good news too for LSU fans was that it was more than just Megan McChrystal carrying the team on her back ... the group got contributions from all five players during the week. Now lets see them do it again at the Mason Rudolph.

Next event: Mason Rudolph Women's Championship, Vanderbilt Legends Club, Franklin, Tenn, Sept. 24-26

5. Duke (NR)

Amazing to think that the Blue Devils start the 2010-11 campaign really under the radar, but a solid fourth-place showing at the Preview suggests that the team is going to be one to watch all season. This year's group has a bit more depth than in the recent past. Meanwhile, Lindy Duncan starts where she left off in her fabulous freshman season, finishing T-4 individually.

Next event: Mason Rudolph Women's Championship, Vanderbilt Legends Club, Franklin, Tenn, Sept. 24-26

__Stat of the Week


__Average final round score for LSU's Megan McChrystal in her last two college starts. The senior from Stuart, Fla., shot a closing course-record tying 65 yesterday at the Traditions Club in Bryan, Texas, to win the individual title at the NCAA Preview after posting a final-round 64 at last May's NCAA Championship. The victory was the fourth of McChrystal's career, putting her along in third place in school history for victories, trailing only Jenny Lidback (seven) and Kristi Coats (six).

Random Thought of the Week

When's the last time you saw an American college give this type of celebration to a player winning an individual title?


Tohoku Fukushi's Yoshinori Fujimoto shot a 17-under 199 to claim the individual title at the Topy Cup last weekend and help his school post a record 41-under-par. Texas A&M finished second to the victorious Japanese squad, 12 strokes back.

What to Watch For

"Ballistic scores" is how Crimson Tide coach Mic Potter describe what he saw. "During the practice round, I didn't see a 65 coming from that course," said Potter. "I'm a little shocked we had to get to 15 under to win. But the conditions were perfect. We probably didn't have more than 5 miles per hour of wind the whole tournament."

One question is whether this was an aberration, given it's the first significant event of the season for most of the top teams, or whether it's a sign of things to come. I actually think it's the latter. The players on the women's side are improving, particularly those at the elite end of the spectrum who make up much of the field at an event like the NCAA Preview. They're showing that they're not afraid to go low. Having an event where making birdies is doable will help encourage better overall play, in my mind, as it will cause good players to be more aggressive and learn how to play different shots into holes than they would if they are simply trying to save pars.

I wasn't in Texas so I didn't see the course set-up and can't say whether it was easy or not, but I'd encourage other events not to be afraid to allow players to shoot some low scores. I'm not advocating turning courses into pitch and putts with hole locations in the center of every green, but there's nothing wrong with setting things up so that a 68 or 69 is out there if someone is playing well.

"Think about it, our fifth player in the order of finish in this past tournament [Harter] is the only player to have won a college tournament on our team," Potter said. "The depth is going to be a key for us, and she really hit the ball pretty well. And Stephanie is just a freshman but she's going to be an important player for us if we're going to have success.

"You know you can get a 65 but if you get three 75s to go with it, it doesn't do you a heck of a lot of good against the competition we play," Potter added. "So I was really happy about our depth and our consistency."

Indeed, if Potter can count on players 1 to 5 to perform, he's going to be bringing a few more trophies back to Tuscaloosa this fall and spring.

Kim failed to qualify for the traveling team as he continues to work on some swing changes. Playing for Stanford will be true freshman__Cameron Wilson__ along with Steven Kearney,Wilson Bowen,Andrew Yun and Steve Ziegler. "Some young guys getting a shot," as Conrad Ray mentioned to me via e-mail.

A couple other players set to make their college debuts: Duke's Yaroslav Merkulov and Cal's Ben An.

__Tournament Previews


Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational__

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

Olympia Fields CC, Olympia Fields, Ill.

Sept. 17-19

Host: Illinois

Field: Alabama, Arizona State, Augusta State, California, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Stanford, Texas

Defending champion: Arizona State (30-over 870) by two strokes over Oklahoma State; Georgia's Harris English and Oklahoma State's Trent Whitekiller (one-over 211)

Skinny: In just five years, the event has become among the premier fall tournaments in college golf. Ten of the top 25 teams in the Golf World/Nike Golf preseason coaches' poll will be competing. All four schools that have won the event previously (Duke, 2006; Oklahoma State, 2007; Illinois, 2008; Arizona State, 2009) are in the field

__Maryland Intercollegiate

__River Marsh GC, Cambridge, Md.

Sept. 18-19

Host: Maryland

Field: Akron, Francis Marion, George Mason, George Washington, James Madison, Maryland, Navy, UNC Wilmington, Old Dominion, Penn, Penn State, USC-Aiken, Toledo, William & Mary, Xavier

Defending champion: North Carolina (three-under 849) by one stroke over VCU; Virginia's Ben Kohles and North Carolina's Henry Zaytoun (seven-under 206)

Skinny: The host Terps return their entire team from a year ago, giving them cause for optimism as the 2010-11 season begins.

__Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational

__Eisenhower Blue Course, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Sept. 19-20

Host: Air Force

Field: Air Force, Colorado, Colorado State, Denver, New Mexico State, Northern Colorado, Northern Iowa, San Diego, Southern Utah, UCCS, UNLV, Utah, Utah State, Utah Valley, UTEP, Weber State, Wyoming

Defending champion: Colorado State (nine-under 855) by two strokes over Utah; Northern Colorado's Steve Bidne (10-under 206) by four strokes over Washington State's Austin Hurt

Skinny: Annual Falcon Invitational renamed after long-time coach Gene Miranda in 2003. The tournament has be held since 1969.

__Golfweek Conference Challenge

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

Spirit Hollow GC, Burlington, Iowa

Sept. 19-21

Host: Iowa

Field: Baylor, Campbell, East Carolina, Eastern Michigan, Furman, Iowa, Liberty, Middle Tennessee State, Nevada, New Mexico, N.C. State, San Francisco, S.E. Louisiana, UC Irvine, VCU

Defending champion: Florida State (11-under 853) by eight strokes over Iowa; Iowa's Brad Hopfinger and Florida State's Drew Kittleson (nine-under 207)

Skinny: Second straight year for the event that pits teams from 15 different conferences.

__Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational

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

Washington National GC, Auburn, Wash.

Sept. 20-21

Host: Washington

Field: BYU, Fresno State, Gonzaga, Idaho, Missouri, Oregon, Oregon State, Pacific, Pepperdine, San Diego State, Texas A&M, UC Davis, Washington, Washington State

Defending champion (2008 event): Washington (seven-under 857) by 13 strokes over California; Washington's Chris Killmer (five-under 211) by three strokes over San Diego State's Johan Carlsson


Skinny: The sponsor of this year's event is Kikkor Golf, a golf shoe company founded by former Washington NCAA champ James Lepp. Tee markers for the event are going to be limited-edition golf shoes. The school has also posted some cool preview material on its website.


Adams Cup of Newport__

Newport National GC, Newport, R.I.

Sept. 20-21

Host: Rhode Island

Field: Binghamton, Boston College, Brown, Bryant, Central Connecticut, Connecticut, Hartford, Michigan State, Rhode Island, Seton Hall, St. Joseph's, Temple, Towson, UCF, Villanova, West Florida, Yale

Defending champion: SMU (12-over 876) by six strokes over Georgia Southern; UConn's Jeb Buchanan (nine-under 207) by two strokes over Georgia Southern's Ryan Zabroske

Skinny: Rhode Island coach (and GCAA Hall of Fame member) Tom Drennan hosts 17th Adams Cup, his last after announcing he will be retiring after more than two decades running the Rams' men's golf team.

__Kansas Invitational

__Alvamar GC, Lawrence, Kan.

Sept. 20-21

Host: Kansas

Field: Creighton, Drake, Jacksonville, Kansas, Kansas State, UM-Kansas City, Missouri State, Nebraska, Oklahoma City, Oral Roberts, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Monroe, South Dakota State, Southern Illinois, Western Kentucky

Defending champion: Oklahoma (22-over 886) by two strokes over Kansas, Louisiana-Lafayette and Missouri; Kansas' Nate Barbee (five-under 211) by three strokes over Missouri's Jace Long__

Skinny:__ The Jayhawks are already playing in their third tournament of the new season, having finished sixth at both the Fairway Club Invitational and the Turning Stone Tiger Intercollegiate.

UTA/Waterchase Invitational

Waterchase GC, Arlington, Texas

Sept. 20-21

Host: UT-Arlington

Field: Central Arkansas, Houston Baptist, Louisiana Tech, McNeese State, Nicholls State, North Texas, Rice, Sam Houston State, Santa Clara, Southern Illinois, Southern Mississippi, Stephen F. Austin, UT Arlington, UT Pan American, UT San Antonio, Texas State, Texas Wesleyan, Wichita State

Defending champion: Rice (six-under 858) by two strokes over UT Arlington; Wichita State's Dustin Garza (eight-under 208) by two strokes over Rice's Michael Buttacavoli

Skinny: Looks to be a Lone Star shootout this year.


Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational

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

University of New Mexico Championship Course, Albuquerque

Sept. 17-18

Host: New Mexico

Field: BYU, UC Davis, UC Irvine, Colorado, Colorado State, Denver, Georgia State, Hawaii, Indiana, New Mexico, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oregon, San Diego State, TCU, UNLV, Wyoming

Defending champion: Pepperdine (17-under 859) by seven strokes over New Mexico; Oregon's Kendra Little (12-under 207) by one stroke over New Mexico's Jodi Ewart

Skinny: Just one school from east of the Mississippi has won this tradition-rich, 31-year-old event, since 1987 (Georgia, 2004).


WSU Cougar Cup

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

Palouse Ridge GC, Pullman, Wash.

Sept. 20-22

Host: Washington State

Field: CSU Fullerton, Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, Idaho, Montana, Montana State, Nevada, Sacramento State, Seattle, Washington, Washington State

Defending champion: Idaho (39-over 903) by 13 strokes over Nevada; Idaho's Kayla Mortellaro (three-over 219) by one stroke over Idaho's Amanda Jacobs and Oregon State's Cara Freeman

Skinny: The tournament is in its third year and is held on one of the better college courses built in the last 10 years, Palouse Ridge.