The season is early, but it is never too early to release the Wildman Power Rankings. Here’s how I see the top five teams in both the men’s and women’s game:
1. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys started the year with a tie for second at Olympia Fields, then won the Ping/Golfweek Preview. Those are two of the top 10 fields in the country each and every year. The Preview win came on their home course (Karsten Creek), but that’s OK since it will host this year’s NCAA Championship.
2. Augusta State: Last year’s NCAA champions have all five guys back and will look to repeat. The Jaguars will be a favorite all season, and will have to wait until May to determine if they will end the year ranked No. 1 again.
3. Georgia: These Dawgs are back and better then ever. Russell Henley, Harris English and Hudson Swafford are three of the top 20 players in the country, and appear to be the favorite in the SEC. I don’t know about you, but doesn’t this year seem like one of those Oklahoma State vs. Georgia kind of years?
4. Alabama: It is only a matter of time until the Tide start rolling once again. Hunter Hamrick and Bud Cauley provide a great 1-2 punch, and this team will be really scary as soon as freshman Cory Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt prove to themselves they can compete with anyone in the country. Look for the Tide to come on strong in the spring as they work out some kinks in the fall.
5. UCLA: Bruins are one of the top teams you don’t know much about, because you either aren’t too familiar with their young talent or have a tough time pronouncing several of their names. To start the fall, the Bruins finished second at the Preview and sophomore Pontus Widegren won medalist honors by defeating Peter Uihlein and Swafford. Coach Derek Freeman has lots of young talent, and may be the team to beat this year in the Pac-10.
1. Southern Cal: The Trojans are not only the most talented team on paper, but they are the most talented on the golf course, as well. Coach Andrea Gaston’s squad has started with back-to-back third-place finishes, but will look for its first win this week at the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational.
2. Alabama: The Crimson Tide have climbed the rankings each and every year. Only problem is, they are running out of room to climb. Mic Potter’s team is real close to becoming a dominant team, but in order for them to do so, they have to win or come close to winning the big one in May.
3. Purdue: This year’s defending champions are on a mission to prove their championship from a year ago was no fluke. Devon Brouse will rely on Maude-Aimee LeBlanc and Numa Gulyanamitta once again to lead the way for the Boilermakers.
4. UCLA: Carrie Forsyth’s Bruins have been real close to winning it all the last couple of years, but close doesn’t cut it. Once again, a member of the “Big Three” will look to win it all this year, as the Bruins are stacked once again. Curtis Cuppers Stephanie Kono and Tiffany Lua know how to win, and now it’s time for those two to lead them to a victory at this year’s NCAA Championship.
5. LSU: Could this be the year of the Bayou Bengal? To start the year, LSU finished second at the Fall Preview and then won the Mason Rudolph Championship. All the talk in the SEC is around Alabama, Georgia and Florida, but could the Tigers be the best team in the conference?