College Top 5: 'Bama's Thomas wins first start

Alabama's Justin Thomas after winning his college debut, the Carpet Capital Collegiate.

For the past several years, I have always had a Monday Top 5. I am changing that this year and moving the weekly top 5 highlights to Thursdays. The reason: It’s the one off day where you rarely, if ever, have competition and it provides the perfect break to the week.

1.) Frosh Start

Fearless Freshman

Sean Martin features the impressive incoming freshman class, which includes Jordan Spieth, Patrick Rodgers, Anthony Paolucci and Justin Thomas.

There has been a lot of anticipation and speculation about this year’s freshman class in the men’s game. And right out of the gate Alabama’s heralded newcomer, Justin Thomas, wins the Carpet Capital Collegiate, which is always one of the top events in the fall season. Thomas posted a final round 7-under 65 to win by four shots and finish at 1-under 206.

“We learned that Justin Thomas is pretty good,” Alabama head coach Jay Seawell.

Jay, I think you already knew that.

2.) Team Auburn

Playing without Blayne Barber, who was representing Team USA at the Walker Cup, his Auburn teammates got the season started with a big victory at the Carpet Capital Collegiate. The Tigers finished five strokes ahead of Tennessee. However, Auburn head coach Nick Clinard was not there. He was attending the Walker Cup watching his star player. I am not a fan of a coach missing an event for anything other than personal reasons, but give credit to Clinard for the job he is doing at Auburn. In just his second season with the Tigers he has his squad in the “top team in college golf” discussion.

3.) What's the Women’s Headline?

I am not for sure what the bigger story this past week was in the women’s game. Was it Oklahoma State’s come-from-behind win at the Dale McNamara Invitational under first-year coach Alan Bratton? Or was it Wake Forest placing 15th at the Cougar Classic?

The victory for Bratton’s Cowgirls, which featured a win over Arizona State, ranked No. 12 in Golfweek’s preseason poll, certainly will excite a program that needs a lift. But Wake Forest finished in a position we are not used to seeing out of a Dianne Dailey squad and maybe even more troubling was the fact that the Deacons lost to Maryland. . . when was the last time that happened?

4) North Texas Again

The men from Arkansas were Golfweek’s No. 9 team in the preseason rankings, so no big surprise they came out on top at The Gopher Invitational. What did catch my eye from this event was the play of North Texas. Last fall the Mean Green turned a lot of heads and went on to finish the season ranked No. 41 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.

It looks like Brad Stracke’s squad might have staying power. Even with junior Carlos Ortiz, UNT’s top player a year ago, finishing tied for fourth amongst UNT players, North Texas placed second against a very good field.

5) Long Wins Again

How much fun might we have this year watching Missouri’s Jace Long? Long went low in the final round, which is becoming his signature, with the day’s best round at 5-under 66 to win the Wolverine Intercollegiate. If you recall, Long posted a 10-under 62 to win the NCAA Southeast Regional last spring. The junior from Dixon, Mo., has now won five of his last eight starts.

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