Welcome to Golfweek’s Mid-Week Report. We want to use this Hump Day to update you on all the latest college news and give you a quick glance at what to look ahead to this weekend.
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THE BIG 5
Stories you need to know now . . .
1. Alabama: The Tide won the Puerto Rico Classic, its second victory in three starts. The best part? The solid contributions from its Nos. 4 and 5 players, Tom Lovelady and Scott Strohmeyer. Both players contributed two 69s to the cause. Lovelady finished 16th individually, while Strohmeyer finished 12th.
2. Washington: The Huskies’ win at the Prestige was the team’s second consecutive first-place finish to start the spring. No. 3 Washington tied UCLA for first at the Amer Ari Invitational (UCLA won a sudden-death playoff) before tying USC for first place at PGA West (the teams were declared co-champions). Could Washington be Cal’s top competition in the Pac-12? The Huskies have to be optimistic that Chris Williams (T-2) collected his third runner-up in five starts this season at the Prestige. Meanwhile, Cheng-Tsung Pan extended his streak of top-10s to six this season. He finished sixth at the Prestige.
3. Auburn: The No. 22 Tigers picked up their second victory of the year at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate. It also was the second consecutive event won by an Auburn individual. Dominic Bozzelli won at the Amer Ari, and Niclas Carlsson won at Mobile Bay. Three Tigers have won individual titles this season (Jake Mondy, the McLaughlin)
4. Illinois: The Illini contended at Isleworth without Thomas Pieters in the lineup, then dominated at the Big Ten Match Play, going 14-0-1 in winning three matches. A third-place finish at Mobile Bay was less impressive. The No. 20 Illini finished nine shots behind 22nd-ranked Auburn and five shots behind No. 12 LSU. NCAA champ Thomas Pieters finished 22nd individually.
5. USC: Give this team credit for its consistency. It hadn’t finished worse than fourth in its first four starts this season. The Trojans picked up their first victory of the season after shooting the only sub-par round – a 6-under 278 – in the final round of The Prestige. USC tied Washington for the title at PGA West.
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1. Albin Choi, North Carolina State: The Puerto Rico Classic was his third title in six starts this season. It also was his seventh victory of his career, drawing him closer to Matt Hill’s school record of 10. Choi has put himself firmly in contention for the Haskins Award as college golf’s player of the year. Hill claimed that award in 2009.
2. Anthony Paolucci, USC: His second-place finish at The Prestige was was his third consecutive top-10. He was part of last year’s vaunted freshman class, but finished No. 106th in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. He seems to be showing the form that was expected of him. Remember that he finished T-29 at the 2011 Farmers Insurance Open while still a high-school senior.
3. Cory Whitsett, Alabama: The Puerto Rico Invitational was Whitsett’s third straight top-3 finish. He was third at the Western Refining College Golf All-America Classic, followed by runners-up second at the Jones Cup and Puerto Rico Classic. Whitsett said he plays well this time of year because he’s refreshed from the mid-season break. He’s right.
4. Justin Thomas, Alabama: Nothing wrong with a 12th-place finish, but it’s been a disappointing two weeks for last year’s Haskins Award winner when you consider that this time last year he was starting to establish himself as the nation’s top collegian. He won the Jones Cup and Puerto Rico Classic in consecutive starts. This year, he followed a 26th-place showing at the Jones Cup with his 12th-place finish in Puerto Rico.
5. Scott Wolfes, Georgia Southern: His team’s schedule keeps him from being a serious player-of-the-year candidate, but Wolfes has finished in the top-2 in five of seven starts this season (two wins, three runners-up). Georgia Southern’s schedule is rated 87th in the country, though, so he’ll need to rack up victories, not second-place finishes, to become a player-of-the year candidate.
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BEST OF THE BEST
How the top 5 teams in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings fared:
1. California: DNP
2. Texas: DNP
3. Washington: T-1, The Prestige
4. New Mexico: DNP
5. Alabama: Won, Puerto Rico Classic
How the top 5 players in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings fared:
1. Michael Kim, Cal: DNP
2. Cheng-Tsung Pan, Washington: 6th, The Prestige
3. Brandon Stone, Texas: DNP
4. Trevor Simsby, Washington: T-17, The Prestige
5. Daniel Berger, Florida State: DNP
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Tournament (Team champion; individual winner)
Mobile Bay Intercollegiate (Auburn; Niclas Carlsson, Auburn)
Puerto Rico Classic (Alabama; Albin Choi, North Carolina State)
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THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE
John Burns Intercollegiate
Wednesday-Friday, Turtle Bay Resort (Palmer), Kahuku, Hawaii
The field: Arizona, BYU, BYU-Hawaii, California, Colorado State, Denver, Hawaii, Hawaii-Hilo, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas A&M, Texas-El Paso, UNLV, Utah, Washington State:
The skinny: Cal and New Mexico highlight this field. The Lobos ended Cal’s five-event winning streak in the teams’ last meeting, at the Arizona Intercollegiate. They’ve split their last two meetings, and have been separated by just a stroke.
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Bayou City Collegiate Championship
Friday-Sunday, Redstone Golf Club (Tournament), Humble, Texas
The field: Baylor, Charlotte, Chattanooga, East Carolina, Houston, Houston Baptist, Indiana, Lamar, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, Rice, South Carolina, Texas, Texas-Arlington, Texas-San Antonio
The skinny: No. 2 Texas highlights this field at the site of the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open.