Two good college tournaments are on the schedule for the weekend, so let’s break them down.
Lone Star Invite at Briggs Ranch
Dates: Oct. 16-17
Course: Briggs Ranch Golf Course, San Antonio, Texas
2010 team champion: Texas-Arlington
2010 medalist: Carlos Ortiz, North Texas
Field: Arizona, Baylor, Houston, New Mexico, North Texas, Rice, Sam Houston State, Southern Mississippi, Stephen F. Austin State, Texas A & M, Texas El Paso, Texas State, Texas-Arlington, Texas-San Antonio, Weber State
The scoop: This will be a Texas-size shoot-out for bragging rights in the Lone Star State – literally. Eleven of the 15 teams in the field are from the state of Texas, and this event could potentially go a long way in several recruiting battles. Of all the teams in the field, the favorite might be the Baylor Bears. To start the year, the Bears won the Turning Stone Tiger Intercollegiate, and followed that with back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Wolverine Intercollegiate and Rod Myers Invitational. Texas A&M will be teeing it up for the first time this year, and coach J.T. Higgins will get a good look at a roster with three new starters in it after Nacho Elvira, John Hurley and Conrad Schindler have all graduated. It also should be noted that with several of the same teams in the field at last year’s event, host UT-Arlington took the title, finishing seven strokes ahead of Notre Dame.
Wildman’s Pick: Baylor. The Bears have put together a solid start to the season, and has yet to finish outside the top 5 in three starts. The Bears will be looking to gain some notability from their closest competition (both geographically and on the recruiting trails). UT-Arlington may have the local knowledge and home-course advantage, but the Bears have played well three tournaments in a row, and I see another win for them in the very near future. Duh Bears!
Sleeper: Texas A&M. Can this team really be a sleeper? I think so since we haven’t seen the Aggies all year, and no one really knows what to expect from them. This year the team will be lead by senior Jordan Russell and junior Cameron Peck. The rest of the lineup will likely continue to change well into the spring. Considering this is Texas A&m’s first tournament of the year, the team should be ready to go and well prepared for the event. If the Aggies have a rough week, then they could be in trouble since they immediately head to Georgia for the U.S. Collegiate Championship.
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Susie Maxwell Berning Classic
Dates: Oct. 16-18
Course: Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club, Norman, Okla.
2010 team champion: Arkansas
2010 medalist: Emily Tubert, Arkansas
Field: Coastal Carolina, Florida International, Florida State, Kansas, Kansas State, Kennesaw State, Michigan, Middle Tennessee, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oral Roberts, Redlands Community College, Texas A&M, Texas State, Texas Tech, Texas-San Antonio, Wisconsin
The scoop: Seventeen schools will be competing on Oklahoma’s home golf course, trying to earn a win in the Sooners’ backyard. The biggest sleeper in this field that could leave a lot of teams with a sour taste in their mouth is Redlands Community College. In one of the first tournaments of the year, the Cougars nearly won the Chip-N- Club Invitational. Redlands fumbled the lead down the stretch to finish one shot behind SMU. The quality of this field is stronger, however, but Redlands has shown it is not intimidated to play anyone.
Wildman’s Pick: Florida State. The Seminoles started their year in Big 12 country with a fifth-place finish at the Mo’Morial hosted by Texas A&M, and are headed back to Big 12 country to play in Oklahoma’s home event. Florida State has a nice mix of seasoned veterans in junior Jessica Negron and seniors Hannah Thomson and Maria Salinas. Young talent includes freshmen Laure Castelain and Alex Milan.
Sleeper: Redlands Community College. One thing is for certain about the Cougars: They are not intimidated by any team. I don’t think they will win this week, but a top 5 is doable. Several of the teams in this field don’t want to lose to a community college, but it’s going to happen. The Cougars nearly won a Division I tournament at the start of the year hosted by Nebraska, and this week we’ll try to accomplish that feat in Norman. An added incentive for Cougars players is that they will be playing in Oklahoma’s back yard. This could be a real motivator for one of the best junior college programs in the country. Redlands might not win it all, but my guess is that this team beats more than half of the field.