Thumbs up: UCLA | Thumbs down: Lamar

Stephanie Kono during the 2010 Curtis Cup.

Stephanie Kono during the 2010 Curtis Cup.

The fall season is just about over and players will be headed home for the winter break. In the mean time, let’s do one more “thumbs up and thumbs down” before we fill up on turkey.

Thumbs Up:

UCLA women – Have the Bruins finally come out of hibernation? That would be a definite yes.

After a sluggish start for one of the best teams in the country, the Bruins have come alive right before the fall break. Led by Stephanie Kono and three others that placed in the top 20, UCLA closed out the fall with an 11-shot win at the Pac-10/SEC Challenge over Alabama. The Bruins started the year with a seventh at the Preview, but have since then finished T-3 at the Mason Rudolph, first at the Landfall, and now first at the Challenge.

We all knew UCLA had the talent to beat anyone on any given day, but it appears the Bruins are on a roll and looking like the team many of us thought they would be.

Indiana men – I’ll be first to admit that I thought this was going to be a down year for the Hoosiers, but not so fast.

Coach Mike Mayor has once again put together a squad that is playing not only like a top-25 team, but one that may give Illinois and Iowa a run for its money as the best team in the Big Ten.

The Hoosiers closed out the fall with a win at the Kiawah Island Intercollegiate, which comes right after their win at the Firestone Invitational in October. The Kiawah Island field wasn’t elite, but a win is a win and the Hoosiers certainly surprised many with the way they played in the first half of the year. The team’s other finishes were a T-5 at the Wolf Run, 13th at Olympia Fields, and T-5 at the Windon Memorial.

Iowa men – What is it with teams that start with “I” in the Big Ten? Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa all have had great falls, but the Hawkeyes have been out of this world. After stating the season with a sixth place finish at the Golden Gopher Invitational, the Hawkeyes have done only one thing and that is win.

The four tournament winning streak started at the Golfweek Conference Challenge, and was then followed by the Fighting Irish Golf Classic, Rod Myers Invitational, and now most recently, the Baylor Intercollegiate. Illinois is the highest ranked team out of the Big Ten at number seven in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, but coming in at number 12 is Iowa. I am not ready to say that Iowa is better than Illinois, however, if Coach Mark Hankins can keep this up it would be hard not to.

Is Iowa really a top 15 team? As of right now, yes.

Thumbs down:

Florida women – One team I really thought was going to continue to make great strides this years were the Lady Gators. Instead, the team has been headed in the wrong direction.

Florida ended the fall with an 18th-place finish out of 21 teams at the PAC-10/SEC Challenge, but it wasn’t much better before that. UF came in 15th at the Tar Heel Invitational and 10th at the Mason Rudolph. This year’s Gator’s have only finished in the top five twice this year, and that was in their first two events, which were a second-place finish out of six teams at the Labor Day Shootout, and a 5th out of 21 teams at the Cougar Classic.

Lamar men – It appears that the only team that should be allowed to wear red pants is Indiana. The Cardinals a few years ago were a sleeper team climbing the rankings and providing us a mid-major Cinderella team each spring. Now they are a team that tries to fight their way into the magic number for an at-large berth into the postseason.

Lamar recently finished in 10th place at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate, defeating only New Mexico and Long Beach State. Right now the Cardinals are ranked 70th in the country, and will have another chance to end the fall on a high note, as they play in the Gifford Collegiate at CordeValle starting today. Let’s see if Lamar can end the fall season on a positive.

Kansas State men – I have to admit that I have been a bit disappointed with Kansas State. This was a team that had a lot of momentum heading into this season after playing competitively all of last season.

So far this fall hasn’t been kind to the Wildcats, who started the year with a last place finish at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate. K-State did finish second out of seven teams at the Jim Colbert Intercollegiate, but after that they went 11th out of 13 teams at the Firestone, ninth out of 14 at the David Toms and then came in 10th out of 12 teams at the Pacific Invitational to close out the fall. If Kansas State wants any chance of making a postseason run this year they will have to start off quick in the spring and help their overall head-to-head record, which currently stands at 22-46-1.

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