This week's syllabus: Sept. 27-Oct. 3
__THE FAB FIVE
My look at the top five teams in the country right now
Slow start leaves Crimson Tide playing catch-up during final two rounds of Ping/Golfweek Preview. Fourth-place finish at Purdue's Kampen Course wasn't too bad as Gator Todd becomes fifth Alabama player with top-10 individual finish.
Next event: Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate, Old Overton GC, Birmingham, Ala., Oct. 8-9
2. Stanford (2)
Will be interesting to see how Cardinal reacts now that school finally has started in Palo Alto. Rob Grube's recent selection as captain solidifies his leadership role.
Next event: Fighting Illini/Olympia Fields Invitational, Olympia Fields CC, Olympia Fields, Ill., Sept. 30-Oct. 1
OK, 49ers. You've got our attention. Biggest win in school history with victory at the Ping Preview. Interesting fact No. 1: senior Andrew DiBitetto, an All-American last year, hasn't really kicked things into gear just yet. Interesting fact, No. 2: Jamie Green's roster is deeper than just the five who've traveled to the 49ers opening two wins this fall.
Next event: The Prestige, PGA West-Greg Norman Course, La Quinta, Calif., Oct. 15-16
__4. USC __ (4)
Trojans' late kick not enough to catch Charlotte in West Lafayette, but good enough to grab them a third-place finish. Four different players post top-20 finishes, including defending national player of the year Jamie Lovemark.
Next event: Isleworth UCF-Collegiate, Isleworth CC, Windermere, Fla., Oct. 19-21
__5. Georgia Tech __ (5)
The Yellow Jackets sat out the Preview after it switched from a three-day to a two-day tournament, as did Clemson and Georgia. The three hold outs face off at the Brickyard.
Next event: Brickyard Invitational, The Brickyard at Riverside, Macon, Ga., Oct. 7-9
__1. Duke __ (2)
Three-time defending NCAA champs send a message to rest of women's college golf with one-stroke win the Margaret Moses Branch NCAA Preview in Albuquerque: we're not going anywhere. If not for slow start by Amanda Blumenherst (two over through first 26 holes before making 13 birdies and no bogeys over her final 28 holes at New Mexico's Championship Course), the victory margin could have been greater. Meanwhile, Jennie Lee finishes T-6 individually in her season debut.
Next event: Lady Tar Heel Invitational, UNC Finley Course, Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 5-7
__2. UCLA __ (1)
Solid third-place finish at NCAA Preview included seven-under 285 final-round score. Tiffany Joh and Maria Jose Uribe post top-10 performances. Bruins have broken par as a team in five of their first six rounds of the 2007-08 season.
Next event: The Stanford Intercollegiate, Stanford GC, Palo Alto, Calif., Oct. 19-21
3. USC (5)
Haven't heard much from Dewi Claire Schreefel since her 2006 NCAA Championship victory but an impressive 15-under 204 total to win the Margaret Moses Branch NCAA Preview this week (one shot off the Trojans' 54-hole school record) is a great sign for USC fans ... as is the Trojans' second-place team finish, one shot back of Duke.
Next event: Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational, Sahalee CC, Redmond, Wash., Oct. 8-10____
4. Arizona State (3)
So how tough is winning the Pac-10 going to be? Sun Devils' fourth-place showing at NCAA Preview shouldn't be a concern, except that they finished behind conference rivals USC and UCLA. Good news for ASU is that Jennifer Osborn is off to a slow start (T-28 and T-51). When she comes around, Melissa Luellen's squad will be just fine.
Next event: Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational, Sahalee CC, Redmond, Wash., Oct. 8-10
Can't mention one school without the other so far this season as the Tigers/Wildcats tied for sixth at the Mason Rudolph and then tied for sixth again at the NCAA Preview. Next head-to-head match-up between the two comes in February at the Wildcat Invitational in Tucson.
Next event (Auburn): Lady Tar Heel Invitational, UNC Finley Course, Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 5-7
Next event (Arizona): Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational, Sahalee CC, Redmond, Wash., Oct. 8-10
__PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Stefan Wiedergruen__, Charlotte
The junior, who enrolled at Charlotte after completing military service in his native Germany, closed with a final-round 68 at Purdue's Kampen Course to jump past teammate Jonas Enander Hedin and claim his first college title at the Ping/Golfweek Preview Sunday. The 23-year-old's seven-under 209 was two strokes lower than Enander Hedin and Minnesota's Victor Almstrom. In the final round, he opened with a front-nine 30 and didn't two putt a green until the ninth hole. Wiedergruen has finished in the top-10 at the German, Belgian, Finnish, Portuguese Amateurs.
Kira Meixner__, Kent State
A school-record opening-round 66 at Penn State's Blue Course in State College, Pa., allowed the senior from Richmond, British Columbia, to post consecutive 73s to close out the Lady Northern Invitational and still claim medalist honors by three strokes. Meixner made 14 birdies overall as she also helped the Golden Flashes win the team title by five strokes over Michigan State.
STAT OF THE WEEK
WHAT TO WATCH FOR__
â¿¢ Word on the status of the proposals the NCAA men's D-I golf committee submitted this summer to change the structure of the NCAA Championship should be coming in the next week. The proposal to expand from three to six regional sites and create a 54-hole cut with eight teams advancing to a medal/match play format to determine a team champion have both gone through the first stage of approval from the NCAA Championship Cabinet. As part of the latter proposal, the individual champion will be determined after 54 holes. Whether that will happen this year, however, when the team champion is still crowned after 72 holes, a request the golf committee also made is uncertain.
Editor's Note: Donnie Wagner, assistant director of NCAA Championships, confirmed Friday, Sept. 28 what *Golf World and **Campus Insider first reported Sept. 27: that the D-I proposals had been approved by the NCAA Championship Cabinet. Wagner said that the next stage of the process is for the proposals to be reviewed by the NCAA Management Council at their meeting next month in Indianapolis. The proposals are intended to be in place for the 2008-09 season. Wagner said that the decision on how many holes will be used to determine the NCAA individual champion next June at Purdue's Kampen Course is still to be determined. *
â¿¢ The Virginia Tech men open their 2007-08 season next week at the VCU Shootout. Six months removed from the tragic shootings on the Blacksburg, Va., campus, and the Hokies' inspiring victory at the ACC Championship the following weekend, it will be interesting to see how coach Jay Hardwick's team responds to a return to the course. Equally intriguing will be to watch__Drew Weaver__ return to action after one of the more impressive summers one could have. Weaver's unexpected win at the British Amateur championship in June, which ended a 28-year victory drought for Americans in the event, turned the 20-year-old from High Point, N.C., into a bit of a celebrity. Weaver handled himself with great poise at the British Open and a new-found confidence should hopefully have accompanied him back to campus this fall. Aside trying to continue to make a name for himself in the college ranks, Weaver can look forward to a few side trips to Augusta National GC this fall as he prepares for next year's Masters.
â¿¢ High school senior Luke Guthrie became a hot prospect this summer after solid performances in his first-ever AJGA starts (a win at the Rand Graphics-Wildcat Golf Wichita Junior Championship and a third at the Rolex Tournament of Champions). Having verbally committed to play at Illinois next fall, the 17-year-old from Quincy, Ill., will have a familiar face with him. Older brother Zach Guthrie was hired this week to be an assistant coach under Mike Small for the Fighting Illini. Zach just graduated from Western Illinois this past spring.
*__TOURNAMENTS TO WATCH
Fighting Illini/Olympia Fields Invitational
Sept. 29-Oct. 1
Olympia Fields CC, Olympia Fields, Ill. (7,467 yards, par 72)
Field: Arizona State, Central Florida, Duke, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas
Defending champion: Duke (24-over 864); Niklas Lemke, Arizona State (one-over 211)
Skinny: Only in its second year, Illinois' tournament proves if you've got a very good golf course, you can become a must-play event pretty quick.*
*Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic
Warren GC, South Bend, Ind.
Sept. 30-Oct. 1
Host: Notre Dame
Field: Arkansas, Baylor, College of Charleston, Colorado State, Georgetown, Iowa, Lamar, Michigan State, North Florida, Notre Dame, San Diego, Virginia*
Hermitage CC, Manakin-Sabot, Va.
Host: Virginia Commonwealth
Field: Iowa State, Liberty, Maryland, North Carolina, UNC-Wilmington, Old Dominion, Penn State, South Florida, Southeastern Louisiana, UT-Chattanooga, Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Wichita State, Wisconsin*
Gold Mountain-Olympic Course, Bremerton, Wash.
__ Host:__ Washington
__ Field:__ BYU, California, UC Davis, Fresno State, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Oregon State, Pacific, Pepperdine, San Diego State, Washington, Washington State*
Oasis GC, Loveland, Ohio
University Club of Kentucky, Big Blue Course, Lexington, Ky. (6,157 yards, Par 72)
Sept. 29-Oct. 1
Field: Alabama, Arkansas, Central Florida, Florida, Illinois, Indiana State, Kentucky, Marshall, Memphis, Miami (Fla.), Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi State, Richmond, South Florida
Skinny: Horrendous rain and wind during the first two rounds of play a year ago marred the event and let to the high scores from the winning team and individual. (The overall scoring average was 81.71 with just two rounds at par or better). The host Wildcats are looking to improve upon their 13th-place showing a year ago with new coach Myra Blackwelder at the helm and junior transfer Mallory Blackwelder returning to a course where she was medalist two years ago as a freshman at Florida.
University of Michigan GC, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Field: Bradley, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Michigan, Notre Dame, SMU, Toledo, Tulsa, Wisconsin*
*Yale Women's Fall Intercollegiate
Yale GC, New Haven, Conn.
*Nittany Lion Women's Invitational
Penn State's Blue Course, State College, Pa.
Sept. 30-Oct. 1
Host: Penn State*
*CU Heather Farr Memorial Invitational
Omni Interlocken, Broomfield, Colo.
*Marilynn Smith Sunflower Invitational
Colbert Hills GC, Manhattan, Kan.
Host: Kansas State*