Thumbs up: Oregon | Thumbs down: OK State
Oregon: Is the Quack Attack for real? After starting the year with a victory at the St. Mary’s Invitational, the Ducks won again over an impressive field at the The Prestige at PGA West. For Oregon to be successful this year, it needed Eugene Wong to get back to the way he played as a freshman. In 2008, Wong was an All-Pac-10 honorable-mention pick and led the team that year with seven top-25 finishes. With a runner-up performance at The Prestige, Wong guided the Ducks to a victory, by two shots over Washington. Fellow seniors Daniel Miernicki and Andrew Vijarro also had strong performances, tying for fifth. With so much attention going to conference rivals Stanford, Washington, USC and UCLA, the Ducks picked up head-to-head wins over Stanford, Washington and USC in this one. The Ducks will now try to make it three in a row at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational next week.
Asher Wildman catches up with Texas coach John Fields to discuss the Longhorns' two consecutive victories to start the season and freshman Jordan Spieth.
Texas: Like Oregon, the Longhorns won for the second straight week, and once again it was in dominating fashion. Texas was the only team to shoot under par in the Jack Nicklaus Invitational at Muirfield Village, posting a three-round total of 2-under 862. Four Texas players finished in the top 10 to help the Longhorns cruise to a 16-shot victory over Ohio State. After a slow start in Round 1, which had the team in seventh, coach John Fields’ team regrouped in Round 2 to shoot a tournament-best, 12-under 276 to claim the top spot. UCLA’s Patrick Cantlay and Oklahoma State’s Peter Uihlein were not in the field, although it might not have mattered much. Texas defeated the Bruins by 24 strokes and the Cowboys by 41. Texas leaves Ohio with impressive wins over Illinois, Kent State, UCLA, Arkansas, LSU and Oklahoma State. Next up for Texas will be its toughest test yet: the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational in Orlando at the end of the month.
Central Florida (women): The Knights have rebounded nicely after a disappointing 10th-place finish to start the year at the Dale McNamara Invitational. At the beginning of the month, the Knights were runners-up at the Bettie Lou Evans Invitational, and Tuesday won their first tournament of the year, the Lady Northern Invitational, by three shots over Ohio State. Led by freshman Katie Mitchell, who was runner-up in the individual race, the Knights had three other players finish in the top 11. Freshman Monifa Sealy tied for sixth, and junior Carolin Pinegger and sophomore Kaitlyn Price tied for 11th. Next up for the Knights is the Alamo Invitational in San Antonio at the end of the month.
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Jordan Spieth: I know he has been a big reason why Texas has had success in its past two tournaments, but the freshman also has cost himself two individual victories. At the Jerry Pate, Spieth was tied for the 36-hole lead but shot a final-round 76 to tie for sixth. This week, at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational, Spieth was in a position to win once again but stumbled in crunch time. Spieth had a two-shot lead over Illinois’ Thomas Pieters, but went bogey-bogey-double bogey on his last three holes to finish in a tie for second. Many people thought Spieth would be a great choice for Freshman of the Year, but he now has to play catchup after Justin Thomas, Patrick Rodgers and Cheng-Tsung Pan have won tournaments this year. The season is young, but Spieth’s struggles down the stretch are a bit alarming.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys may have been without Peter Uihlein, but their 10th-place finish at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational is disappointing. Oklahoma State is a team that doesn’t just regroup but is expected to reload and be ready for the next event, no matter who is in the lineup. The Cowboys started the year with two solid showings, a second at Olympia Fields and a third at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. This past week in Ohio, however, Sean Einhaus was the team’s top finisher, at T-22. Sophomore Ian Davis has gotten a lot of playing time, and with a T-25 performance is solidifying his spot in the Cowboys' lineup. Kevin Dougherty, Brad Gehl and Drew Page failed to finish in the top 45 for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys will have to regroup quickly, because their next event, Isleworth, will be a tough one.
Wisconsin: The Badgers’ struggles to start the season continued recently at the Firestone Invitational. Wisconsin finished 17th at the 17-team event, losing to tournament champion St. Mary’s by 40 shots. To start the year, Wisconsin finished 13th out of 14 teams at the Gopher Invitational, rebounded with a third at the Louisville Intercollegiate, then finished ninth out of 15 teams at the Weibring Intercollegiate before finishing last at the Firestone. No player finished in the top 25 individually, and only juniors Anthony Aicher and Chris Meyer finished in the top 50 (T-34). Wisconsin, with a head-to-head record of 22-36, will need to start turning that around fast. The Badgers will look to do so at their next event, the Kiawah Island Intercollegiate at Turtle Point Golf Club.