Thumbs up: Oregon | Thumbs down: Colorado

Thumbs Up

1.) Oregon (men). Raise your hand if you thought Oregon would be undefeated after three events this year. I don’t even know if head coach Casey Martin thought his team would win three events this fall, but that’s what the Ducks have done, most recently tying California for the top spot at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational. Oregon won the St. Mary’s Invitational to start the year, then followed with The Prestige. One of the biggest reasons for the Ducks’ success is the resurgence of 2009-10 Jack Nicklaus award winner Eugene Wong. After a disappointing junior season, Wong is taking advantage of every opportunity he’s getting his senior year. At the team’s first tournament at St. Mary’s, Wong earned a top 10, followed by a runner-up at The Prestige and Tuesday won the MacKenzie Invitational. In terms of the Pac-12, all eyes were seemingly on UCLA, Stanford and USC to start the year, but Oregon is establishing itself as the team to beat.

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Wildman: Casey Martin on Oregon’s hot start

Asher Wildman talks with Oregon coach Casey Martin to discuss the team's hot start and the resurgence of Eugene Wong.

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2.) Big 12 women’s golf. Last year I was hard on the ladies of the Big 12, but this year they are getting two giant thumbs up! At the NCAA Championship last year, only Texas A&M represented the conference. The Big 12 Conference has six teams ranked in the top 35. Oklahoma State (No. 6), Texas (No. 15), Texas A&M (No. 15), Baylor (No. 23), Texas Tech (No. 29), and Oklahoma (No. 32) have combined to win a total of seven times, and the season isn’t even half over yet. With all the attention teams from the Pac-12 and SEC get, perhaps its now time to meet in the middle – literally. These teams may not be at an elite level just yet, but it’s clear that the Big 12 women’s golf teams are starting to become relevant once again in the women’s golf rankings. Last year only three teams from the conference finished the season in the top 25 of the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings: Iowa State (No. 21), Texas (No. 22), and Texas A&M (No. 24).

3.) New Mexico (men). This is a team that quietly is assembling a very solid fall season. Earlier in the week, the Lobos played at the Lone Star Invitational. Of the 15 schools in the field, only four were not from the “Lone Star” state. New Mexico was the only team in the field to finish under par with a three-day score of 3-under 861 and defeated Texas A&M by five shots. Head coach Glen Millican and his team have not finished outside the top 5 in four fall starts, and have two runner-ups in addition to the team’s recent win. The Lobos will look to keep their streak of great play alive at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate at the end of the month to close out the fall.

• • •

Thumbs down:

1.) Colorado (men). After starting the year with back-to-back wins at the Mark Simpson Invitational and Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational, the Buffalos have hit a rough patch. At the end of September, the Buffs finished ninth out of 16 teams at the William H. Tucker Invitational, and this week finished 13th out of 16 teams at the Alister MacKenzie. Colorado lost to co-champs Oregon and Cal by a total of 45 shots, and was one of five teams that were unable to shoot under par for the tournament. As a team, Colorado shot 12-over 856 with no Buffalo player finishing in the top 40 on the leaderboard. It was a disappointing fall finish for a team that got off to a fast start. The team next tees it up in the spring at the Hawaii Hilo Intercollegiate.

2.) Michigan (women). The Wolverines were having a very solid fall with three consecutive top-5 finishes to start the year. The Big Blue started its year with a third-place finish at the Mary Fossum Invitational, followed by a fourth at the Bettie Lou Evans Fall Invitational, and then a third at the Lady Northern Intercollegiate. However, after a trip to Oklahoma for the Susie Maxwell Berning Classic, the Big Blue was left feeling a little blue. Michigan finished 13th at the 17-team field, falling to tournament champion Oklahoma by 41 shots. Sophomore Alyssa Shimel was the team’s top performer, finishing T-26, but she got little help from the rest of her teammates. Michigan will look to rebound and end the fall on a positive note when the team tees it up at the Challenge at Onion Creek in November.

3.) Stanford (women). The Cardinal had a really good opportunity to pick up some impressive head-to-head wins over a good field at their own Stanford Intercollegiate. Instead, Stanford struggled and finished in tie for tenth on its home golf course. Stanford opened their year with a second-place showing at the WSU Cougar Cup, and things were looking good for Stanford on its home course. Instead, Kristina Wong and Mariko Tumangan were the team’s top finishers and the nly players to finish in the top 40 as the two finished T-39. The Cardinal will have a chance to redeem themselves later this week at the SEC/Pac-12 Challenge before they close out the fall at the Kent Youel Invitational in Hawaii.

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