Was I surprised when I saw that Oklahoma State won the Amer Ari Invitational last week on Hawaii’s Big Island? Or that Texas, UCLA, Georgia Tech and Southern California followed in the standings?
Simple answer: No.
What did surprise – make that shock – me was Florida State.
Not sure if the Seminoles were spending too much time on the beautiful Kona Coast beaches for body surfing in the Pacific Ocean, but they sure didn’t seem to be into the swing of things on the golf course.
Florida State finished 19th in the 20-team field, finishing at 27 over par. The only team it beat was host – and Division II – Hawaii-Hilo. And that was by only a shot. The Seminoles were six shots higher than another D-II school, Western Washington, and were just one of seven teams to complete 54 holes over par.
The low ’Nole was Drew Kittleson, who shot 3 over and tied for 65th. Brooks Koepka was 5 over and tied for 72nd. The three other Seminoles ranged from 93rd to 112th among the 114 players.
Was this just one of those flukes? I certainly want to think so. The Seminoles, who finished second at the NCAA Central Regional and were a semifinalist at the NCAA Championship last season, are better than this showing – much better. There’s a lot of talent on this team, and I have to believe it will show as the spring season moves on.
Still, that 19th-place showing sent the Seminoles reeling. They finished the fall season No. 34 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and now stand at No. 59. Maybe even more critical, they have a 25-44 won-lost record, well below the .500 mark required even to be considered for an NCAA postseason berth.
But Florida State hardly is alone in this category as the spring march to the postseason begins. Eighteen teams in the top 100 are at .500 or below.
Here’s a quick rundown:
On the verge: 37. Kent State (30-30); 39. Oregon (39-45); 43. Clemson (31-35); Baylor (22-26); 60. Penn State (33-35); 68. Coastal Carolina (23-28); 82. UNC-Greensboro (32-36); 97. Mississippi State (30-35).
Had better get it going: 35. Arizona State (26-35); 38. TCU (24-33); 48. Tennessee (17-34); 53. Southern Methodist (23-33); 59. Florida State (25-44); 76. Arizona (20-34); 84. Minnesota (24-40); 95. Brigham Young (26-38); 96. UC-Irvine (29-38); and 98. East Tennessee State (18-45).
No, it’s not quite time to panic. But you can bet that there are thoughts lingering in the back of the minds of coaches and players alike.
Time to turn up some warm weather, and for a number of teams to turn up the heat on the golf course. Yes, it’s still early, but before you know it, May will be upon us. And by then it just may be too late.