Inaugural Battle of the Beach a big success
There’s a new kid on the college tournament block, and it probably won’t be moving out anytime soon. In fact, it will likely move up in the neighborhood.
Top 20 regular season events to date*
- Isleworth Collegiate Invitational (Oct. 25-27)
- Olympia Fields Illini Invitational (Sept. 18-20)
- PING/Golfweek Preview (Sept. 27-28)
- Carpet Capital Collegiate (Sept. 11-13)
- The Amer Ari Invitational (Feb. 3-5)
- Gifford Collegiate At CordeValle (Nov. 9-11)
- Brickyard Collegiate Championship (Oct. 10-12)
- Bank Of Tennessee At The Ridges (Oct. 16-18)
- Battle At The Beach (Feb. 14-16)
- The Prestige At PGA West (Oct. 11-13)
- Gary Koch Intercollegiate (Oct. 3-4)
- UNCG Bridgestone Golf Collegiate (Oct. 24-25)
- Baylor Intercollegiate (Oct. 26-27)
- Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate (Oct. 13)
- SunTrust Gator Invitational (Feb. 13-14)
- Arizona Invitational (Feb. 1-2)
- Alister MacKenzie Invitational (Oct. 12-13)
- John Burns Intercollegiate (Feb. 17-19)
- VCU Shootout (Sept. 28-29)
- David Toms Intercollegiate (Oct. 26-27)
*2009-10 season; events with more than 12 teams in the field; according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings.
The Battle at the Beach, co-hosted by Long Beach State and UCLA, was staged for the first time earlier this month at Pelican Hill’s Ocean North course in Newport Beach, Calif. It is an event that I see only getting better as it ages.
“For a first-year tournament, I feel it went extremely well,” said UCLA coach Derek Freeman, whose Bruins rallied in the final round and won the title by one stroke over Arkansas and Washington. “We had great weather (sunny and in the mid-70s all three days), an outstanding golf course and a strong field.”
This week, the boys talk about college golf’s pace-of-play problems, Texas’ victory in Puerto Rico and the Lady Sun Devils’ win in the desert.
The 14-team field featured 12 teams in the top 90 of the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, including six among the top 30.
Long Beach State coach Bill Poutre, in his second year with the 49ers, gives Freeman the bulk of the credit for attracting top programs.
“Good teams want to play good teams on good golf courses, and that’s what we have,” Poutre said. “It’s amazing the interest we’re already getting from teams for next year’s event. We really feel we can be one of the top 10 fields by next year.”
Actually, Bill, you’re already there. According to the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings for tournaments played through Feb. 21 with 12 or more teams, the Battle at the Beach ranks No. 9.
Travis Matthew, a Southern California clothing company founded by former UCLA standout Travis Johnson, was the event’s sponsor, and former Long Beach State players John Mallinger (PGA Tour) and Brett Lederer (Nationwide Tour) put on a clinic for area juniors.
Players, coaches and officials were treated to first-class hospitality from Steve Friedlander, the general manager at The Resort at Pelican Hill, enjoying villa accommodations – many with Pacific Ocean views – within walking distance of the course.
Among the highlights was a sunset dinner cruise after the practice round. It’s not often that a tournament’s coaches’ meeting is held aboard a yacht.
“We are looking (for) this tournament to become one of the top-notch events in the country,” Poutre said. “And I fully expect it to be.”
Its first step was a giant one in that direction.
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PREVIEW CHANGES: Originally scheduled to be a two-day competition with a 36-hole, 18-hole format, the 2010 Ping/Golfweek Preview has been changed to a three-day event with 18 holes each day.
The 22nd event will be played Sunday-Tuesday, Sept. 26-28, at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., site of the 2011 NCAA Championship. A practice round will be held Saturday, Sept. 25.
Oklahoma State, currently No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, will head the 15-team field, serving as host team.
With the NCAA Championship determining its winner in a match-play format, some changes were made to the criteria for invitations into the 2010 Preview.
In addition to the host school, those teams earning invitations will be the top eight in the final 2009-10 Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, the four match-play semifinalists and two at-large teams.
This past fall, for only the second time in the tournament’s history, the Ping/Golfweek event was not played at the next spring’s NCAA Championship venue. The Honors Course, just outside of Chattanooga, Tenn., opted not to host the Preview.
The Ping/Golfweek Invitational did take place, however, being played at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash. Oklahoma State won the event with a 2-under 862 total, 18 strokes better than second-place Washington.
The Preview also took place at Karsten Creek in 2002, with Augusta State winning the team title. The next spring at the 2003 NCAA Championship, Clemson claimed its first national golf title at the course with a two-stroke victory over the host Cowboys.
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TEXAS TWO-STEP: Feb. 23 was a big day for college golf in Texas.
First, the University of Texas men’s squad shot an impressive 42-under 822 and won the Puerto Rico Classic by six strokes over top-ranked Oklahoma State.
The Longhorns, led by freshman Cody Gribble, the tournament runner-up, placed three players in the top 7as they defeated a 15-team field that included 10 top-50 teams. It wasthe Longhorns’ first victory since ending the 2008 fall campaign with a victory at Turtle Bay in Hawaii.
Second, North Texas captured the weather-shortened J.L. Lewis Intercollegiate with a 17-over 585 total, seven shots better than No. 37 Rice. It ended a five-year victory drought by the Denton, Texas-based school.
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A LOOK AHEAD
What: John Hayt Collegiate
When: Feb. 28-March 2
Where: Sawgrass Country Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Why it’s important: Eight of the top 35 teams in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings are in the 15-team field, headed by No. 3 Florida, which is coming off a win at its Gator Invitational. Expect the Gators to be challenged by Alabama (12), TCU (13), Tennessee (24), North Carolina State (27), host North Florida (29), Duke (33) and LSU (34). Also, don’t expect low scores: Sawgrass CC can be a real bear if the wind starts blowing off the Atlantic – which often is the case.
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What: USC Invitational
When: Feb. 28 - March 2
Where: North Ranch Country Club, Westlake Village, Calif.
Why it’s important: This one offers a chance to see who is the best of the West at this point of the season. Twelve of the 14 teams are among the top 50 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings. Heading the field is No. 2 Stanford and No. 11 UCLA, which is coming off a victory at the Battle at the Beach. Also in the field are Arizona State (14), Oregon State (15), host USC (17), Oregon (19), California (21), San Diego State (30), San Diego (31), Pepperdine (46), Fresno State (48) and Charlotte (50), the loneteam from the East. And keep an eye on BYU (56), which is coming off a T-3 at the John Burns in Hawaii.