Looking ahead: Olympia Fields, Mary Fossum
The fall season is underway, and it’s time to look ahead. Here’s all the information you need on the biggest tournaments happening in the next few days.
Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational
Date: September 16th-18th
Course: Olympia Fields Country Club
Defending Champion: Florida
Defending Medalist: Peter Uihlein
Field: Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Augusta State, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Stanford, and Texas
Why you should watch: Fifteen of the top teams in the country will tee off at one of college golf’s most premier events. This year the tournament will feature several perennial powerhouses in college golf, however, those teams will be trying to do it with new faces.
Several of the top teams in the field will be looking to answer questions as they start the year. Oklahoma State has two spots to fill after Kevin Tway graduated and Morgan Hoffman turned pro a year early. Replacing the two will be junior Drew Page and red-shirt sophomore Kevin Dougherty.
Defending NCAA champions Augusta State start the year with a whole new look top to bottom. Gone are all five players from last year’s title team, as well as coach Josh Gregory who left to coach SMU. Round 1 at Olympia Fields will mark the beginning of the Kevin McPherson era for the Jaguars. Also, Tim Mickelson begins his career as the new head coach at Arizona State.
Wildman’s pick: Alabama
The Crimson Tide started the year with a fourth-place finish at the Carpet Capital. At last year’s OFCC, ‘Bama finished fourth as well. Cory Whitsett, Bobby Wyatt and Hunter Hamrick have experience at the Olympia Fields, which is a huge advantage. Freshman Justin Thomas will also be in the lineup for Jay Seawell, and he's coming off a victory of his own in his first collegiate start. Thomas won the Carpet Capital by four shots over Chattanooga’s Benni Weilguni.
Every year that it seems Buddy Alexander is expected to have a down year in Gainesville, but he somehow finds a way to surprise us all. Over the summer Alexander expressed concerns with his lineup, but in reality it’s not too bad. Joining the Gators this year is T.J. Vogel, who transferred from USC, and the team has a very good player in Tyler McCumber back, as well. Don’t let Florida fool you once again. Buddy Alexander always finds the right combination to be successful at Florida, but this year it may just take a few more tournaments to find the right mix.
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Mary Fossum Invitational
Dates: September 16th-18th
Course: Forest Akers West Golf Course
Last year’s champion: Notre Dame
Last year’s medalist: Nicole Zhang
Field: Eastern Michigan, Ferris State, Indiana, James Madison, Kent State, University of Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Oakland, Ohio State, Toledo
Why you should watch: This tournament will most likely be a three-team race between host Michigan State, Kent State and Ohio State. For the other schools in the field, the event gives them the opportunity to face competition they are not used to seeing. The Spartans will be looking to rebound after they started their year off with a poor eighth-place performance at the Mo’Morial last week. Junior Caroline Powers was the top Spartan finisher, coming in 12th in Texas, but she will be a favorite this week as she finished third at this event last year.
Wildman’s pick: Michigan State
Caroline Powers and Lindsey Solberg both finished in the top ten of this event last year, and will most likely repeat that feat this year. The Spartans should have a nice advantage playing on their home course, which should also give them the edge. Kent State is in a bit of a rebuilding mode, and Ohio State will get a glance of their team for the first time in their season-opening event.
The Hurricanes are still in a bit of a rebuilding stage under second-year head coach Patti Rizzo. To start the year, Miami had a respectable 12th place finish out of 22 teams at the Cougar Classic. The ‘Canes faced several of the top ACC and SEC schools in the country, but did pick up head-to-head wins over Wake Forrest, Maryland, Furman, Charleston and Minnesota. The Hurricanes are still a long way from being a top 50 team, but a top-three finish this week can do wonders for their ranking.