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. 31 on the board with the N.C. State men and Chattanooga women.
N.C. STATE MEN
2010-11 final ranking: 31
Coach: Richard Sykes (40th year)
Top returnees: Mitchell Sutton, Albin Choi
Top newcomers: Freshman Wilson Day of Raleigh, N.C., freshman Andrew Decker of Greenville, N.C., freshman William Herring of Lillington, N.C.
Projected starting 5: Mitchell Sutton (Jr.), Albin Choi (So.), Nos. 3-5 spots TBA
Key losses: Brandon Detweiler
Key fall tournament: The Ridges at ETSU
2010-11 recap: Each season, it seems that North Carolina State is one of the least-talked-about teams, one that always flies under the radar. Last season, the Wolfpack had another good year, never finishing out of the top 8 at a regular-season tournament. The team win two titles in the fall (Kiawah Invitational, Wolfpack Intercollegiate). “We played really good in the fall, and OK in the spring,” coach Richard Sykes said. “We had a consistent lineup that played well.”
After advancing out of NCAA regionals, N.C. State played its worst golf at the NCAA Championship in Stillwater, Okla., finishing a disappointing 27th out of 30 teams. “We fell flat on our face at nationals,” Sykes said. “We just couldn’t handle (Karsten Creek); it was a tough place to play.”
Player to watch: Andrew Decker. Said Sykes: “He hits it straight, and he knows his distances. He is not afraid to shoot a low score. He will be a very good college player.”
2011-2012 preview: It’s clear that N.C. State has two solid players atop their roster. Patrick Cantlay received most of the attention as the best freshman in the country last year, but Albin Choi had a solid season of his own, with victories at the Wolfpack Intercollegiate and Rod Myers Invitational. Choi finished outside the top 20 only three times in 13 starts and finished the season at No. 50 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
Supporting Choi in the Wolfpack lineup last year was Mitchell Sutton, who won two titles of his own (Hootie at Bulls Bay, co-medalist at NCAA regionals). With Sutton and Choi forming a solid 1-2 in the Wolfpack lineup, Sykes knows he has a solid foundation. “We expect to be a pretty good team,” Sykes said. “How good depends on how Mitch and Albin do.”
The rest of the team’s starting five will not be determined until the fall, although seniors Chad Day and Mark McMillen combined for 23 starts a year ago. Sykes is hoping for a shoot out in the team’s qualifying sessions, and is hopeful that his players used the summer to work on their games. “I’m going to wait and see who handled the disappointment of last year on their time,” Sykes said. “We will be playing for quite a few spots and that will be interesting.”
Bottom line: N.C. State starts the season in a lot better shape than most teams at the 1-2 spots. Although Choi and Sutton are top-100 players, they can only do so much on their own. N.C. State hovers around the top 30 most seasons, but can’t seem to make that next big jump into the top 25. If N.C. State can find a solid No. 3 player to post consistent scores, the ’Pack could vault up the rankings. In the meantime, it appears the Wolfpack will go only as far as Choi and Sutton take them – which could be a return trip to nationals.
2010-11 final ranking: 31
Coach: Colette Murray (fifth year)
Top returnees: Maria Juliana Loza, Marion Duvernay
Top newcomers: Freshmen Michaela Gasplmayr of Austria, freshman Mette Kryger of Denmark
Projected starting 5: Maria Juliana Loza (Sr.), Marion Duvernay (So.), Jordan Britt (So.), Michaela Gasplmayr (Fr.) and Mette Kryger (Fr.)
Key losses: Emma de Groot, Christine Wolf
Key fall tournament: Tar Heel Invitational
2010-11 recap: In the program’s fourth year, the Mocs won four titles. To close out the fall, Chattanooga captured the Lady Paladin Invitational, then opened the spring with a victory at the Kinderlou Forest Challenge. Later in the spring, the Mocs won at the James Madison/Eagle Landing Invitational and at the Southern Conference Championship.
“It was cool to win that many times in a year,” coach Colette Murray said. “We had only one finish outside the top 10 all year, and to me that is impressive.”
Still, the Mocs ended their season wondering what if. Two weeks after winning the Southern Conference title, the team’s No. 4 player, Moa Duf, left the program, deciding to return home to her native Sweden. Without her, Chattanooga finished 12th at the NCAA Central Regional, failing to advance to the NCAA Championshipo.
Player to watch: Mette Kryger. Said Murray of the freshman from Denmark: “(She has) a lot of international experience. You can compare her to fellow Danes Charlotte Lorenzen from Georgia State and Sara Monberg of Tennessee. If she can do what they did, we’ll be in good shape.”
2011-2012 preview: What Murray has accomplished at Chattanooga in only a handful of years is pretty remarkable. The Mocs still are relatively new to college golf, but have become a postseason regular. This season, however, may be a challenge, after the graduation of four-year starters Emma de Groot and Christine Wolf.
“I don’t know how good we will be,” Murray said. “I don’t know if we have a true No. 1, but I think we have players who (ITAL)can(UNITAL) be a No. 1.”
Senior Maria Juliana Loza is the Mocs’ top returner, having ended last season at No. 158 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. Murray expects to have two freshmen in the lineup and needs each to have an instant impact. “They need to be bold and step up and know what is expected of them,” Murray said. “Just because I have freshmen doesn’t mean our team can’t be competitive.”
In addition, sophomores Marian Duvernay and Jordan Britt must mature quickly if the Mocs are going to be successful. The two struggled as freshman, and if that happens again it could be a long season in Chattanooga.
Bottom line: Just when you think the Mocs could have a down year, Murray finds a way to win and be successful. This season, however, might be tough in Chattanooga because the lineup lacks a proven No. 1 player and contains plenty of additional question marks beyond that. The Mocs should make regionals once again, but a trip to nationals would seem to be a reach.