Golfweek’s top 10 men's team for the 2007-08 season
(Click here to discuss these picks on Golfweek’s discussion boards):
2007 NCAA finish: 1
2006-07 Golfweek rank: 2
Go-to guy: Senior Rob Grube
Why the Cardinal are No. 1: They return two second-team All-Americans in Grube and sophomore Joseph Bramlett, as well as junior Daniel Lim, an honorable-mention selection, from the team that won the 2007 NCAA title and had six other tournament victories. Add in sophomore Jordan Cox, junior Dodge Kemmer and freshmen Sihwan Kim and Steve Ziegler to the mix and, as Grube says, “we have the potential to be even better than last year.”
Can win national title if: The Big 3 continue to improve, and if Cox and Kemmer can step up their games and make consistent contributions. The two freshmen are talented, so it will be a matter of how quickly they adjust to college life.
Coach Conrad Ray says: “Last season was great, but what we have to do now is dust ourselves off and start from scratch. We need to keepour eyes on the long term. We don’t want to be a team that shows up(at nationals) every 10 years. Stanford is more than that.”
2007 NCAA finish: 7
2006-07 Golfweek rank: 8
Go-to guy: Senior Kevin Chappell
Can win national title if: Chappell, a second-team All-American, and Co. can consistently play up to their potential under first-year coach Derek Freeman. Also returning are junior Lucas Lee, junior Erik Flores, sophomore Jason Kang, senior Craig Leslie and junior James Lee, all of whom saw plenty of playing time last season. Toss in freshmen Philip Francis, the 2006 U.S. Junior champion, and Connor Driscoll, and the Bruins have what it takes to make a serious run.
Coach Freeman says: “When you have guys like Chappell, (Lucas) Lee and Flores, it makes it a little easier because they know what it takes to get to the next level. . . . The key is going to be for the guys to understand that we have to look at what we have to do today to be better tomorrow.”
2007 NCAA finish: 6
2006-07 Golfweek rank: 4
Go-to guy: Senior Michael Thompson
Can win national title if: The four seniors provide leadership and aren’t satisfied with last season’s success. U.S. Amateur runner-up Thompson, a second-team All-American after transferring from Tulane, is an important piece of the puzzle, as are Mark Harrell, Gator Todd and Joseph Sykora. Junior Matthew Swan rounds out the returning starters, though junior Matt Hughes and freshman Spencer Cole could challenge for a spot.
Coach Jay Seawell says: “Hopefully we will feed off how we played last year, but not to the point where we dwell in the past. There was a lot of disappointment on the way home from the NCAA (after a sixth-place finish), but I think that’s going to make them hungry. . . . We have the experience and the talent, now we just have to see how we deal with the pressure.”
2007 NCAA finish: 2
2006-07 Golfweek rank: 1
Go-to guy: Junior Brian Harman
Can win national title if: Harman, a second-team All-American, plays like he did when he won this summer’s Porter Cup in tournament-record fashion and takes on the leadership role left by the graduated Chris Kirk and Brendon Todd. Junior Adam Mitchell, sophomore Hudson Swafford and junior Michael Green must be more consistent, and freshmen Harris English and Russell Henley must make an impact.
Coach Chris Haack says: “There’s no doubt (Harman) has the ability. His ballstriking has always been great. His putter has let him down, and when that happens he starts pressing. He went to the belly putter late this summer and seems to have his confidence back. When his putter gets going, he’s tough to beat, and if he’s at the top of his game, we could be tough to beat.”
2007 NCAA finish: T-18
2006-07 Golfweek rank: 7
Go-to guy: Sophomore Jamie Lovemark
Can win national title if: NCAA champion Lovemark, the Division I Player of the Year, can have an equally successful sophomore season, and returning starters sophomore Rory Hie and junior Tom Glissmeyer post more top-10 finishes. Junior Ryan Linton is the only other Trojan to play more than one event. New faces include Tim Sluiter of the Netherlands, who played on his country’s 2006 Eisenhower Trophy-winning team, Daniel Park of Los Angeles and junior-college transfer Gavin Reed.
Coach Chris Zambri says: “I think we’ll be stronger than last year because we’ll be a little deeper. I think everyone we have coming back has improved, and going into my second year I have a better feel for what I’m doing and what we want to accomplish.”
2007 NCAA finish: T-9
2006-07 Golfweek rank: 6
Go-to guy: Junior Billy Horschel
Can win national title if: Two-time All-American Horschel gets a little help from his friends, and there’s no reason for that not to happen. Also back from Florida’s NCAA starting lineup are seniors Manuel Villegas and Tyler Brown, junior Toby Ragland and sophomore Tim McKenney. Add sophomores Tyson Alexander and Andres Echavarria, junior Will Strickler and freshman Arnond “Bank” Vongvanij, and there should be quite a battle for a spot on the traveling squad.
Coach Buddy Alexander says: “We were so young last year, we didn’t know what to expect. We pretty much had one chief (Horschel) and a bunch of indians. Our goal this year is to have a couple of other guys step up to at least the semi-chief range and become more than bit players.”
2007 NCAA finish: Did not qualify
2006-07 Golfweek rank: 12
Go-to guy: Sophomore Kyle Stanley
Can win national title if: Tigers have eight players back from last season’s young squad and will be a major threat if they can carry over their individual success from the summer and sustain it all season. Stanley, a first-team All-American and individual runner-up at the NCAA, leads the way. The battle for the next four spots should be among seniors Tanner Ervin and Zack Siefert, juniors David May and Phillip Mollica, and sophomores Sam Saunders, Luke Hopkins and Ben Martin.
Coach Larry Penley says: “This team is as talented as any Clemson team has ever been. But that doesn’t mean anything if we don’t come together as a team. I did a poor job of making that happen last year, and it showed because we didn’t win a tournament and then had a very disappointing finish (lost in East Regional).”
2007 NCAA finish: Did not qualify
2006-07 Golfweek rank: 10
Go-to guy: Senior Jarred Texter
Can win national title if: The Rebels can build on the good from last season and eliminate mistakes. Four starters return from a team that finished a disappointing 16th at the NCAA West Regional. Texter will be looked to for leadership. Also back are senior C.J. Gatto and juniors Seung-su Han and Eddie Olson. The Rebels should get additional help from redshirt freshman Brett Kanda, incoming freshman Ji Moon and junior transfer Kevin Carrigan (Midland College in Texas).
Coach Dwaine Knight says: “I’m excited because we have a lot of guys coming back. We played a lot of great golf last season and were 20 under par at the regional and didn’t advance. So that was disappointing. . . . But these guys have the experience and the talent and are very determined.”
2007 NCAA finish: T-13
2006-07 Golfweek rank: 22
Go-to guy: Senior Michael Schachner
Can win national title if: New coach O.D. Vincent, a proven commodity who replaces the late Rod Myers, can instill the same unity and performance as he did at UCLA. The talent is there, led by Schachner, who shot a third-round 60 at last season’s NCAA. Also back from the Blue Devils’ NCAA lineup are senior Michael Quagliano, junior Clark Klaasen and sophomore Adam Long. Other returnees are junior Andrew Giuliani and sophomores Jeff Edelman and Brian Kim. Freshmen Wes Roach and Matthew Pearce also should contribute.
Coach Vincent says: “Everyone seems very upbeat. Last year was a very difficult time (with Myers’ death because of leukemia in March) for the whole team. They all miss Coach Myers, but I feel they are all ready to get focused.”
10. Oklahoma State
2007 NCAA finish: 15
2006-07 Golfweek rank: 5
Go-to guy: Junior Trent Leon
Can win national title if: Young guys make an impact and Leon can have a breakout year. Leon, an honorable mention All-American, is the only player back from last year after his brother, Tyler, and Ryan Posey graduated, and Pablo Martin and Jonathan Moore left early for the pros. The bulk of the Cowboys’ success could rest on freshmen Rickie Fowler, a top junior player who made a splash on the amateur circuit this summer, and Kevin Tway (son of former OSU star Bob Tway), along with Jon McLean, a junior transfer from TCU.
Coach Mike McGraw says: “In a way it’s kind of exciting with so many new faces . . . but we have a lot of question marks. It’s going to be a big year for Trent as he’s going to have to embrace a leadership role.”
The next 20:
11. Wake Forest
12. Georgia Tech
13. Florida State
14. East Tennessee State
16. Coastal Carolina
17. Texas A&M
18. Arizona State
19. South Carolina
22. Texas Tech
26. North Carolina
28. Georgia State
30. Central Florida
– Ron Balicki