124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

What teams could be this year's sleepers?

September 03, 2007

The Florida State men didn't win any tournaments in 2006-07 but posted seven top-five finishes and five top-threes a year ago under fifth-year coach Trey Jones en route to their first appearance at the NCAA Championship since 1996. With ACC individual winner Jonas Blixt (72.24 average) back for his senior year and junior Matt Savage (T-9 at nationals) showing signs he could be an All-American candidate, the Seminoles look poised to make the next step claiming the 15th spot in the Golf World/Nike Golf preseason coaches' poll.

"They've had incredible improvement," Clemson coach Larry Penley recently noted. "Trey is doing an awesome job out there."

Giving FSU even more reason for optimism this fall is the arrival of freshman Drew Kittleson, an 18-year-old from Scottsdale who played impressively this summer, finishing T-2 at this summer's Northeast Amateur and a fourth-place finish at the Southern Amateur.

"The national ranking is a great thing for our program and is a combination of past performances and the influence of new players on our team," Jones said. "If this team can improve as the year progresses, then we can have a special year. Our guys have set some lofty goals, and I am looking forward to helping them achieve these goals."

As for the women, Tennessee's Judi Pavon returns eight players who've seen previous time in the starting line-up, including All-Americans Marci Turner and Nicole Smith. Angela Oh, with four top-10s during her freshman year, is a third returning starter to boast a sub-75 scoring average from 2006-07, when UT had one win and eight top-five finishes. The Lady Vols enter this fall ranked No. 12 in the Golf World/National Golf Coaches Association preseason poll.

Said Pavon: "We are expecting to be a top-10 team all season and are going to prepare ourselves to make a run at the Southeastern Conference and NCAA titles."