Monday Top Five: Where are the 59s?

Michael Whitehead

1.) Where are the 59s?

I have to admit I am shocked we have yet to see a 59 in college golf. Three years ago I said it would happen and I am still waiting. However, in the last couple of weeks we have seen a few rounds sniffing the 50s. Last week it was Rice senior Michael Whitehead closing with a bogey-free 10-under 62 to win the Border Olympics and the week before it was Missouri’s Stuart Ballingall open with a 62. In all we have had seven players shoot 62 and have had a lone 61 on the season which belongs to Pacific’s T.J. Bordeaux. Seven players are in the college golf “60 Club” and time is running out this year for someone to break that record.

College players to shoot 60

• SE Louisiana’s Matthew Carvell (2008 Aldila Scenic City Invitational)

• Washington’s Zach Bixler (2007 Alister Mackenzie Invitational)

• Duke’s Michael Schachner (2007 NCAA Championship)

• BYU’s Daniel Summerhays (2006 Ping/Golfweek Preview)

• Washington’s Brock Mackenzie (2003 Oregon Duck Invitational)

• Georgia Tech’s Bryce Molder (2000 Palmetto Dunes Invitational)

• Arizona State’s Paul Casey (1999 Pac-10 Championship)

2.) NCAA favorite: Purdue

It’s not like Devon Brouse’s Lady Boilermakers have struggled this year. They simply are what they always are: Purdue – a team that seems to always be everyone’s darkhorse. Even in a year when they are the defending national champions, the talk always seems to focus South of West Lafayette, Ind.

Maybe the darkhorse tag will not be there this postseason. Behind the play of tournament medalist Laura Gonzalez last week, Purdue won the Battle at Rancho Bernardo, finishing seven shots ahead of top-ranked USC. With the victory, the Lady Boilermakers climbed three spots to No. 4 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. Purdue is likely to win the Big Ten Conference Championship and cruise into the postseason with wins and the confidence of winning it all last year.

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3.) Best stroke-play team in college golf

Last week Oklahoma State played in the Duck Invitational without Peter Uihlein. The event started on a Monday, just a day after the PGA Tour’s Transitions Championship, where Uihlein was in the field and made the cut. The Cowboys would tee it up for the second time this season without the reigning U.S. Amateur champion in the lineup. The absence of Uihlein did not slow coach Mike McGraw’s squad, as Oklahoma State posted a final-round 10-under 278 to finish at 16-under and claim an 8-shot victory over host Oregon.

Oklahoma State has now won five times in eight starts this year. Two of those victories have been without Uihlein. The Cowboys are ranked No. 1 in college golf and without a doubt are the best stroke-play team in the country, but as Oklahoma State knows all too well, that no longer wins you a national championship.

4.) Iowa winning streak

I have had many discussions about scheduling with college golf coaches who coach in climates that are considered a little uncomfortable in the spring season. I have always said, why play early in the spring? Rather, play as much as you can in the fall. This is when your players should be playing their best coming off summer competition and teams should try to take advantage of it. Then teams can sit until April and get an event or two in prior to conference championships (hopefully your ranking is good enough to get you into the postseason). There is no rule that says you have to play a certain amount in the fall and the spring.

Have you noticed the University of Iowa’s spring schedule? Mark Hankins’ Hawkeyes, ranked No. 13 in the country, are still sitting on a four tournament winning streak – stroke play events that all date back to the fall.

The Hawkeyes have competed several times this spring: an exhibition match here and there and of course the Big Ten Match Play Championship and Callaway Match Play Championship. I don’t really recall having that scheduling talk with Hankins, but we did attend college together and I am certain we must have discussed this philosophy during our glory days in the Iowa State University intramural basketball championships.

Iowa will tee it up in a stroke play event for the first time this spring when they visit the LSU Collegiate this coming weekend.

5.) Arkansas winning streak

Quietly Arkansas has won three tournaments in a row. After an eighth-place showing at the Battle of the Beach to start the spring season, Brad McMakin’s squad then came from behind to win the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational, the Seminole Intercollegiate and the most recently the Border Olympics. The Razorbacks finish with a 32-under 832 total to finish five shots clear of Oklahoma. Arkansas will put its winning streak on the line April 4-5 when they play in the Morris Williams Intercollegiate.

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