No. 36: Pepperdine men, Colorado women
College golf is just a few short weeks away. To get you ready, Asher Wildman is breaking down the top 60 men's and women's teams. Today, it's No. 36 on the board with the Pepperdine men and Colorado women.
2010-11 final ranking: 36
Coach: John Geiberger (16th year)
Top returnees: Josh Anderson, Johnny Mac Arthur
Top newcomers: Freshman Kevin DeHuff of Coto de Caza, Calif., freshman Neil Evans of Phoenix, freshman Caston Roberts of Gilbert, Ariz.
Projected starting 5: Josh Anderson (Sr.), Johnny Mac Arthur (Jr.), Parker Page (So.), rest of spots TBA
Key losses: Andrew Putnam, Andrew Widmar
Key fall tournament: The Prestige at PGA West
2010-11 recap: Pepperdine began the year strong with a victory at the Husky Invitational, but didn’t record another top 5 in three other fall starts. In the spring, the Waves posted three top 5s before tying for fourth at the NCAA regionals to advance to the NCAA Championship.
“We were pretty consistent but never could get our top two guys to play well at the same time,” coach John Geiberger said. “We just never seemed to hit a high point in the spring.”
Pepperdine struggled against teams ranked ahead of them throughout the season, compiling a 28-69 head-to-head mark against top-50 teams in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. That trend again played out at the NCAA finals in Stillwater, Okla., where the Waves finished 25th out of 30 teams.
Player to watch: Josh Anderson. Said Geiberger: “He’s an explosive player and is as good as anybody. He’s got all the facets to be a top-20 or top-30 player. Hopefully, he is ready to lead us this season.”
2011-2012 preview: Pepperdine’s biggest challenge will be finding someone to replace Andrew Putnam. For four years, Putnam was a consistent fixture in the lineup, but now that responsibility will fall upon senior Josh Anderson. “Josh is now our senior leader,” Geiberger said. “We’ll be relying on him to help us do well and succeed during the year.”
It is uncertain who will join Anderson, Johnny Mac Arthur and Parker Page in the starting five. With three incoming freshmen and sophomore Alex Forss in the mix, there will be plenty of competition for the remaining two positions. “It will be a challenge for guys to get those two spots,” Geiberger said. “In this sport, it’s all about timing and seeing which players take this moment and run with it.”
With the inexperience at the Nos. 4 and 5 slots, this appears to be a rebuilding year for Pepperdine.
Bottom line: Pepperdine needs Anderson to be the top player Geiberger thinks he is. Anderson finished last year at No. 122 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, but he’ll have to be at least a top-75 player if the Waves are to have success. Another trip to regionals should be a given, but the back end of the lineup is what will make or break Pepperdine’s season.
2010-11 final ranking: 36
Coach: Anne Kelly (15th year)
Top returnees: Jessica Wallace, Emily Talley
Top newcomers: Sophomore Alex Stewart (transfer from Purdue), freshman Gina Larson of Longmont, Colo.
Projected starting 5: Jessica Wallace (Sr.), Emily Talley (Sr.), Alex Stewart (So.), Jenny Coleman (So.), Kristin Coleman (So.)
Key losses: Tessa The (transferred to San Diego State)
Key fall tournament: Pac-12/SEC Challenge
2010-11 recap: Colorado quietly had a very good season, improving 30 spots from its No. 66 position in the final 2009-10 Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. In the fall, the Buffaloes notched victories at the Ptarmigan/Ram Fall Classic and at their own Heather Farr Memorial. “We had some good improvements with a good fall,” coach Anne Kelly said. “We showed great progress in the rankings and set a lot of new school records.” Colorado failed to win a title in the spring, but finished outside the top 5 only once – at the Big 12 Championship.
With nine top-5 finishes on the year, it appeared Colorado had the chance to be a postseason darkhorse. Instead, the Buffs struggled at the NCAA East Regional, finishing 18th out of 24 teams and ending their solid season on a disappointing note.
Player to watch: Jessica Wallace. Said Kelly: “One of the hardest workers I’ve ever had. She’s a great ballstriker and has improved her short game. Her chipping and putting are really coming around, and her golf IQ is really good.”
2011-2012 preview: Colorado enters the Pac-12 this year, where they no doubt will see a new level of competition. Last season, five teams from the conference finished in the top 11 of the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. “I am looking forward to the challenge,” Kelly said. “The only way to get better is to play the best, and now we will do that on a regular basis.”
Colorado returns four starters from last season, and the Buffs also helped their lineup this offseason with the addition of Purdue transfer Alex Stewart. The sophomore brings the experience of playing one of the toughest schedules in the country. “She’s going to help us for sure,” Kelly said. “She is very competitive and will challenge the rest of her teammates to push themselves each day.”
Seniors Wallace and Emily Talley were top-100 players and are reliable scorers atop the lineup. Filling the Nos. 4 and 5 positions will be the Coleman twins – Jenny and Kristin. Kelly is hopeful that the experience the Colemans gained last year in playing 12 events as freshmen will help them take the next step.
Bottom line: Some people may be surprised with how well Colorado does this year. The addition of Alex Stewart from Purdue should make a huge difference, as the Buffs now have a reliable top three. If even one of the Coleman sisters can step up her game, then the Pac-12 just got deeper. The Buffaloes aren’t nearly ready to challenge for the Pac-12 Championship, but they should be competitive in the sport’s best conference and post a much-better finish at NCAA regionals.