Top 10 men's stories of the fall
With the end of 2010 approaching, take a look back at the top 10 headlines from the fall season.
10.) Pace of Play
Pace of play has been a growing topic, not only in college golf but in all of golf. This past summer the Golf Coaches Association of America put together a panel of experts throughout the game to examine ways to speed up play.
A group called Under Four also is trying to make a dent in the problem. Under Four was the brain child of James Lepp – a former NCAA champion and owner of Kikkor Golf – and Washington coach Matt Thurmond.
Three events this past fall used the ideas set forth by Under Four: the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational, Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational and Stockton Sports Commission Pacific Invitational. The average pace of play for 18 holes at these events was well below average.
The Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational, which was a women’s event, was the only one of the three to come in at under four hours with an average time of 3:57 minutes. The event hosted by Pacific clocked in a 4:07 minutes while the Kikkor Golf Husky Invite was 4:15.
9.) Vongvanij’s return
In his first two seasons at the University of Florida, senior Bank Vongvanij played a total of five events. As a junior he surfaced as a top-100 player - ranking No. 85 in the 2009-10 Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
This fall, the former four-time Rolex/AJGA All-American, who had won five AJGA events prior to his college days, exploded to a No. 2 ranking in college golf.
Vongvanij won his first college event, perhaps the biggest event in all of college golf, at the Isleworth Invitational. He also placed second at the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invite - another high-profile event. Vongvanij played in three events total this fall, finishing in the top 5 in each and maintaining a scoring average of 69.7 in nine tournament rounds.
8.) What’s up with Oregon?
Last spring the Oregon Ducks had played their way into discussions about who was the best team in college golf. The Ducks, which had been ranked No. 1 by Golfstat during the spring season, placed fifth in the stroke-play portion of the NCAA Championship and then advanced to the semifinals before losing to Oklahoma State.
With all five players back this year, big things were expected from head coach Casey Martin’s squad. The Ducks, ranked sixth in Golfweek’s preseason poll, closed the fall at No. 41 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings.
In five starts, Oregon did not record a single finish inside the top 5. Last year, the Ducks did not place outside the top 5 in 12 regular-season tournaments.
Junior Eugene Wong was awarded the GCAA’s Jack Nicklaus Award as national player of the year. This year Wong has struggled with just one top 10 in four starts and is ranked No. 144 by Golfweek.
7.) Portland eliminates golf programs
The University of Portland announced that it will discontinue its men’s and women’s golf teams at the end of the 2010-11 academic year. The university will add women’s crew to its list of intercollegiate sports beginning in the fall of 2011.
The Pilots had a successful fall season, recording three top-5 finishes in four starts. Portland is ranked No. 115 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
This move was not financial, but had to do instead with Title IX issues. The average women’s crew roster numbers 62, which will increase the total number of student-athletes at Portland and also help the school address Title IX compliance by increasing female participation. The athletic department hopes to have as many as 40 female student-athletes on its crew roster next year.
6.) Big Ten victories
There is little debate that the SEC and Pac-10 conferences are the two best when it comes to college golf. However, Big Ten teams also have collected a lot of hardware this year.
Eight different Big Ten teams won a total of 14 tournament titles – the most victories by any conference this fall.
Seven Big Ten schools rank inside the top 31 in the Golfweek/Sagarins with Illinois leading the way at No. 6. Iowa won the most events, winning four in a row to end the fall season.
5.) Big events! Same week!
You can’t play the Masters and the U.S. Open on the same dates. That might be the best way to describe what happened in college golf on Oct. 24-26.
Two of the top events in men’s college golf - the U.S. Collegiate Championship and the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational - were played on those dates. Alabama topped the field at Isleworth and Georgia Tech won easily at the U.S. Collegiate.
A pair of freshmen helped the Crimson Tide roll to the Isleworth title. Cory Whitsett (T-5) and Bobby Wyatt (T-16) helped Alabama to a two-shot victory over LSU. On the same day, five Yellow Jackets placed in the top 10 at the U.S. Collegiate Championship to help Georgia Tech to a 27-shot victory over top-ranked UCLA. Junior James White won the individual title with help from an opening-round 62.
4.) Top frosh
There is a lot to be learned from the fall season, like who is the leading candidate for top freshman. UCLA’s Patrick Cantlay might be the early favorite.
In three starts, Cantlay improved each time out. He tied for 21st at the Ping/Golfweek Preview, then tied for seventh at the U.S. Collegiate Championship and capped his fall campaign with a victory at the Gifford Collegiate Championship.
Cantlay checks in at No. 4 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings – the best ranking for a freshman. But, right behind him at No. 6 is Alabama’s Bobby Wyatt. There are no other rookies ranked inside the top 40.
3.) Top player
The fall season came to a close with Oklahoma State junior Peter Uihlein ranked No. 1. Uihlein, the defending U.S. Amateur champion and Golfweek first-team All-American from a year ago, won the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational and maintained a scoring average of 69.9.
Prior to his start of the Western Refining College All-American Classic, Uihlein had finished either first or second in six consecutive collegiate starts. He tied for 15th at the Western Refining.
2.) Gator surprise
The Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invite was the first marquee event on the 2010-11 schedule that would include the two teams that faced off last year for the NCAA Championship: Augusta State and Oklahoma State
Last spring the Jaguars topped the Cowboys in match play at the Honors Course to win the NCAA Championship. Oklahoma State was the preseason No. 1 and Augusta State was No. 2. However, it was another team that garnered the spotlight.
After opening play with consecutive rounds of even-par 280, Florida posted a 285 in the final round and claimed a seven-shot victory over runners up Augusta State and Oklahoma State.
1.) Hawkeyes’ winning streak
After a sixth-place finish to open the fall season, the Iowa Hawkeyes made winning tournaments a habit. Iowa closed the fall season with four consecutive victories and a final ranking of No. 12 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
The streak started at the Golfweek Conference Challenge with a convincing 15-shot win over runner-up North Carolina State. Iowa went on to win the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic, Rod Myers Invitational and closed the fall with a victory at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate.
“We did a good job each week of staying focused on the upcoming tournament,” said Iowa coach Mark Hankins. “This team displayed trust in each other and all five guys contributed to the fall success.”
The Hawkeyes twice were led by senior Vince India. India shared medalist honors with teammate Chris Brant at the Golfweek Conference Challenge and then won the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate outright.