The top 5 storylines from the past week in college golf:
1. Augusta: Before Masters week officially started, some of the very best in collegiate golf were in Augusta participating in the Insperity Augusta State Invitational. Texas, the top team in the country, came out on top with a playoff victory over the host Jaguars. Birdies from Dylan Frittelli and Jordan Spieth on the second playoff hole gave the Longhorns their sixth victory this year.
While the Longhorns are certain to garner attention whenever they play this season, it’s time to talk about this year’s Augusta State squad. The Jaguars would end up second in this event against a good field and even though it was at home, they earned a little more credibility. Augusta State is now a lock for postseason play again this year with an entirely new lineup and head coach. I thought first-year head coach Kevin McPherson might have trouble even getting this team into postseason play, but now it looks like the two-time defending champs actually could advance to the NCAA finals.
2. Back on top: Texas senior Dylan Frittelli ended the fall season ranked No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, just ahead of teammate Jordan Spieth. Spieth, a freshman, had taken over the top spot this spring, but Frittelli has climbed back to the top after his runner-up finish at the Augusta State Invite. Spieth placed fifth in Augusta, three shots behind Frittelli. Frittelli has placed outside the top 10 just once this year and has an average finish of fifth in 10 starts.
This year’s player of the year race is heating up, too. Anyone of these five — and numerous others — could make a run to the top before season’s end.
1.) Dylan Frittelli, Texas
2.) Jordan Spieth, Texas
3.) Justin Thomas, Alabama
4.) Patrick Rodgers, Stanford
5.) T.J. Vogel, Florida
3. The Big Two: For many years, the nickname Big Three frequently was used to describe UCLA, USC and Arizona State women’s golf. Now it seems that it’s clearly a Big Two. The past weekend is proof of that. At two of the better events this spring in terms of strength of field, No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 Alabama cruised to comfortable wins on opposite coasts.
UCLA, led by three players in the top 3 including individual champion Ani Gulugian, won the Ping/ASU Invitational by 12 shots. And with junior Jennifer Kirby collecting her first collegiate title, Alabama won the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic by 12 shots, also.
With UCLA and Alabama holding onto the top two spots in the rankings, No. 3 and 4 belong to USC and Arizona State. We still have the Big Three inside the top 4 rankings spots, so maybe the term should change from Big Three … plus Alabama.
4. Remember me: Last spring, UCLA’s Patrick Cantlay caught fire and won three times before being named Player of the Year as a freshman. Cantlay carried that over to the PGA Tour where we witnessed a stretch of four top-25 finishes. He was the face of college golf at the start of the 2011-12 season, but has quickly fallen out of the spotlight during his sophomore season.
This week, as one of six amateurs competing in The Masters, he may get a little more attention. Or maybe not. In his last two college starts, Cantlay has posted a T-48 and a T-33. He is not even the top-ranked college player in the field at Augusta. That honor belongs to Clemson’s Corbin Mills, who is ranked No. 20, while Cantlay is No. 26.
5. .500 Watch: Oklahoma State currently has an overall won-loss-tie head-to-head record of 57-55-3. The Cowboy lost to Augusta State in last year’s national championship match, and have played the nation’s toughest schedule this year. Head coach Mike McGraw’s squad has two events left – Aggie Invitational and Big 12 Conference Championship – and needs to have a 50 percent winning percentage or better to be eligible for regional competition