College golf is just a few short weeks away. To get you ready, Asher Wildman is breaking down the top 60 men’s and women’s teams. Today, it’s No. 39 on the board with the TCU men and Minnesota women.
2010-11 final ranking: 39
Coach: Bill Montigel (24th year)
Top returnees: Johan de Beer and Pontus Gad
Top newcomers: Freshman Julien Brun of France, Jacob Gould of Carmel, Ind., Greg Holmes of Canada
Projected starting 5: Johan de Beer (Sr.), Pontus Gad (Jr.), Julien Brun (Fr.), other spots TBA
Key losses: Tom Hoge
Key fall tournament: Isleworth Collegiate Invitational
2010-11 recap: Last season ended with back-to-back heartbreakers for the Horned Frogs. On the last hole of the Mountain West Conference Championship, TCU had a lead over San Diego State and lost, then were in third place at NCAA regionals with one hole to go and finished sixth – one shot out of a playoff for the final qualifying spot to go to nationals. “It was frustrating,” Montigel said. “Going into the last hole, we were looking good twice, but we could never finish on the last hole of the tournament.”
Including their runner-up MWC finish, the team had six top-5 finishes, including a victory at the Navy Spring Invitational.
Player to watch: Julien Brun. Said Montigel of the freshman from France: “He was medalist at the British Boys last year and a member of the French national team, where he helped the team win the Euro Team Championship in Portugal this summer.”
2011-2012 preview: TCU enters the season with some uncertainty at the back end of its starting lineup. Also, TCU must replace Tom Hoge, a key part of the Horned Frogs success the past couple of years. “We need to figure out who the (last) two guys are going to be,” Montigel said. ‘I’ve got several kids that are coming in, and several returning that are up and down.”
Senior Johan de Beer and junior Pontus Gad, Nos. 1 and 2 in the lineup, will be asked to lead a team that lacks experience. If these two players don’t play well for TCU, it could be a long season in Fort Worth.
Brun, a promising freshman, likely will be the team’s No. 3 starter in the line-up but could be the team’s No. 1 by the end of the year if he lives up to his international hype.
Bottom line: This seems like a rebuilding season for TCU. The Horned Frogs play a tough schedule, and that could come back to bite them this season, causing them to be in danger of falling below .500 and missing a trip to NCAA regionals.
2010-11 final ranking: 39
Top returnee: Banchalee Theinthong
Top newcomers: Freshman Anna Laorr of Eden Prairie, Minn., redshirt freshman Tiffany Gretsch of Albany, Minn., redshirt freshman Aubrie Nelson of Edina, Minn., redshirt freshman Taylor Quinn of Barrington, Ill.
Projected starting 5: Banchalee Theinthong (So.), Jackie Shepherd (Jr.), Tori Stock (Jr.), Tiffany Gretsch (Fr.), Aubrie Nelson (Fr.)
Key losses: Teresa Puga, Mary Narzisi, Michele Edlin, Samantha Sommers
Key fall tournament: Cougar Classic
2010-11 recap: Despite making it to the NCAA championship for the first time since 1989, the Golden Gophers had more negative headlines then positive ones. In the fall, coach Katie Brenny resigned and filed a lawsuit against the school for sexual bias. After the season, director of golf John Harris also resigned.
Last season’s interim coach, Ernie Rose, did a commendable job of holding the fort down despite all the turmoil, guiding the senior-laden Gophers through NCAA regionals. With a surprising third-place finish at the NCAA Central Regional, Minnesota went on to play at Traditions Golf Club for the national finals, where they finished 19th.
2011-2012 preview: Minnesota basically will be starting from scratch this fall. The team graduated four seniors last year – their top four starters. The only returning starter from last year’s NCAA Championship is sophomore Banchalee Theinthong, who finished the season No. 322 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. Junior Jackie Shephard also saw some action, playing in nine events.
Three redshirt freshmen – Tiffany Gretsch, Aubrie Nelson and Taylor Quinn – likely will be relied on to contribute this season. The school has only one incoming recruit: Minnesota native Anna Laorr, who was outside the top 400 in the 2011 class in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings.
This program is starting over from top to bottom, and needs to move on from the negative headlines of a year ago, at least until the Gophers’ feel-good NCAA appearance.
Bottom line: Forget calling this a rebuilding season; this will be a total reconstruction for the Gophers’ new coach. They start the year with no coach and only one returning starter from the NCAA finals lineup. Without their four graduated starters, Minnesota will no doubt suffer a huge hit in the rankings.