Monday Top 5: Northwestern wins Match Play
A look at the top five things in the world of college golf from the past week. . .
1.) If Northwestern men’s coach Pat Goss had his way he might be in favor of doing away with stroke play in college golf. Northwestern successfully defended its title at the Big Ten Match Play Championship, defeating Indiana 4-2 in the final match at PGA National in Palm Springs, Fla. The Wildcats pushed their win-loss record to 10-1 in the three-year history of the event. Junior Eric Chun went 3-0 for the Wildcats and improved his match play record to 10-0-1 overall in the Match Play.
Last year Northwestern won the event as the No. 6 seed, and this year the Wildcats were in the No. 4 slot.
2.) While the Big Ten Match Play was getting all the “match play” attention this week, there was another match play event being played. It was simply called The Match Play and it was being played at the TPC Tampa Bay. Kennesaw State defeated Ball State in the championship match to earn the tournament title. Along the way, the Owls defeated Charleston Southern, Campbell and Marquette.
3.) The .500 rule has become an often talked-about topic in men’s college golf this year, especially when it comes to Arizona. Needing an overall win-loss-tie record at 50 percent or better to be eligible for the postseason, the Wildcats were one team that was well behind that pace at the conclusion of the fall season with a record of 11-31 and a ranking of 87th.
Last week Arizona won the Anteater Invitational to go along with a T-4 finish at its home event to start the spring. The Wildcats have compiled a 19-3-2 head-to-head record to push its winning percentage to .462 with a record of 30-34-2 and improve its ranking to 74th. There is still a lot of work to do to get above .500 and improve in the rankings, but these first two events to start the spring season could have doomed Arizona.
New teams on the .500 watch: No. 48 Tennesse (17-34-3) and No. 49 Florida State (32-50-1).
4.) For the first time this year the Arizona State women were able to provide a team score. After losing players to graduation and the pro ranks last season, the Sun Devils played as a team at the Arizona Wildcat Invitational and placed third behind tournament champ Arizona and second-place California. Arizona State placed all five golfers inside the top 31 and made its debut in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings at No. 14.
5.) Make that eight in a row for the Gators. Florida won the SunTrust Gator Invitational for the eighth consecutive time, holding off a mid-round charge by Auburn. The Gators posted a 54-hole total of 4-over 844 to win by nine shots over the Tigers.
What’s even more impressive is that the Gators had three players in an individual playoff along with Drew Kittleson of Florida State. Florida’s Andres Echavarria won the playoff, which included player of the year candidate Bank Vongvanij.
Head coach Buddy Alexander might want to figure out if there is anyway to get his home course a spot on the postseason schedule. The Gators home-course advantage may be the best in college golf.