Believe it or not, the start of another college golf season is just a few short weeks away. Asher Wildman will take the next 60 days to break down the top 60 teams for both the men and women. Today, we hit No. 59 on the board with the Purdue men and Long Beach St. women.
For a complete listing of all the teams on the list thus far, simply click here.
2010-11 final ranking: 59
Coach: Devon Brouse (13th year)
Top returnees: Will Sjaichudin (won three times a year ago), Tyler Duncan (won this summer’s Indiana State Amateur), Adam Schenk (2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year).
Top newcomers: Junior Jakob Ziegler, a transfer from Oakland (Mich.) University
Projected starting 5: Will Sjaichudin (sr.), Tyler Duncan (sr.), Adam Schenk (so.), Jakob Zeigler (jr), Sam Fu (so.)
Key loss: Nakarintra Ratanakul
Key fall tournament: The Jack Nicklaus Invitational
2010-11 recap: The Boilermakers were a combined 88-58-5 a year ago, including victories at the Purdue Midwest Shootout, Butler Spring Invitational, and Boilermaker Invitational.
If there was one noticeable concern for Purdue, however, it was erratic play. Other than its three victories, the team had only one other top-5 finish. After winning the Midwest Shootout, Purdue tied for ninth at Olympia Fields. Following the team’s win at Butler, the team tied for 10th at the Illini Spring Classic, and followed up a win at their own tournament with a T-6 at the Big Ten Championship and a T-11 performance at NCAA regionals.
Player to watch: Tyler Duncan. “He really played well his freshman year,” coach Devin Brouse said. “He tailed off his sophomore and junior year, but his game has come back. This senior year, we expect him to compete with guys like Luke Guthrie of Illinois and Eric Chun of Northwestern for Big Ten Player of the Year honors.”
2011-12 preview: There is excitement in the golf program this year in West Lafayette, Ind., and we’re not just talking about the women – the 2010 NCAA champs and perennially one of the nation’s strongest programs. The Purdue men strongly feel they can compete for a Big Ten crown as well. Brouse thinks his team has plenty of depth and firepower at the top.
Oakland University transfer Jakob Ziegler is a key. If the junior can come in and plug himself in as at least the No. 3 player, that will be one less score for Purdue to worry about. Last year for the Grizzlies, Ziegler won twice and had five other top-15 finishes.
The Big Ten will be deep this season, and Brouse knows it. “Look at Iowa with Coach Hankins and Donnie Darr at Ohio State,” Brouse said. “Those programs have been raised in just a few years. Our conference has great coaches with great facilities, which gives teams the chance to be successful.”
Over the past few years, Brouse has recruited well, putting the Boilermakers in position to have a strong year. But they enter the year with a lot of what-ifs as opposed to certainties.
“I think we have four guys who can all battle each week to be our No. 1 guy,” Brouse said. “This team can be a top-25 team, but we can’t just talk about it. We need to put it on the board and do it.”
Bottom line: Brouse might have top-25 expectations, and it’s possible if all the pieces align just right. But a position in the top 50 is more realistic, enough to earn Purdue another trip to regionals.
LONG BEACH STATE WOMEN
2010-11 final ranking: 59
Coach: Joseph Cerulle (third year)
Top returnees: Simone Hoey, Monica Villarreal, Noelle Zavaleta
Top newcomers: Freshman Ashley Greer (redshirted last year); freshman Monica Umpant of Cerritos, Calif.; freshman Bow-Kay Salotti of Palm Desert, Calif.; freshman Chaewon Park of Torrance, Calif. (two state titles at Torrance High School).
Projected starting 5: Simone Hoey (jr.) Monica Villarreal (sr.), Noelle Zavaleta (sr.), Rochelle Chan (so.), No. 5 spot TBD.
Key losses: Reina Rogers and Lindsey McAtee
Key fall tournament: UNLV Fall Invitational
2010-11 recap: After a solid season in which Long Beach State won the Folino Invitational and posted five other top-5 finishes, the 49ers were left out of postseason play. Despite an overall record of 70-41-2, the NCAA committee decided not to offer the team an at-large bid to NCAA regionals. “I had the whole team in my office with me for the conference call,” head coach Joseph Cerulle said. “We waited and waited and finally realized we weren’t getting called.”
What likely kept Long Beach State from the postseason was its inability to close out tournaments. Before finishing as the runner-up to UC Davis at the Big West Conference Championship, the 49ers had chances to win the Anteater Invitational (fourth) and Pacific Coast Intercollegiate (T-3). For most of the year, the team performed well for 36 holes, but had problems in the final round.
Player to watch: Noelle Zavaleta. “She finished runner-up at the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate and then (at) the Long Beach Women’s City Amateur this summer,” Cerulle said. “She is playing with a purpose now, and is ready to show the talent that is there.”
2011-12 preview: Long Beach State will enter the season with a chip on its shoulder. The 49ers may be the one bubble team from a year ago with the most reason to be upset about being left out of the postseason. However, that was last year and the 49ers need to move on.
Coach Cerulle has a core of four returnees that give him confidence for the upcoming season. “They are hungry and have yet to get to regionals,” Cerulle said. “This is a focused group with a lot of experience that will allow me to work with the freshman so we can get stronger.”
Competing for the fifth spot in the lineup will be redshirt freshman Ashley Greer, who may have a slight upper hand over incoming freshmen Monica Umpant, Bow-Kay Salotti and Chaewon Park.
For Long Beach State to reach the postseason this year, Simone Hoey and Monica Villarreal – the 49ers’ top two players – must step it up against better competition. The pair was a combined 0-42 against players ranked in the top 50 and 8-76 against players ranked in the top 100.
Entering the season, a Big West Championship and automatic NCAA berth is a realistic goal. This year’s team doesn’t want its fate decided by anyone but themselves.
“With the four girls returning from a year ago, and the three freshman coming in, we will compete for a conference title,” Cerulle said. “Not only is making it to regionals a goal, but I think making our way to nationals is realistic.”
Bottom line: One step at a time, coach. But the 49ers definitely have the experience and talent to make up for last year’s disappointment and earn a postseason bid, one way or another.