Thumbs up: UCLA | Thumbs down: GT

UCLA's Tiffany Lua, center, celebrates with her team after they won by 6 strokes at the Mason Rudolph Fall Preview.

UCLA's Tiffany Lua, center, celebrates with her team after they won by 6 strokes at the Mason Rudolph Fall Preview.

Thumbs up:

UCLA (women): The defending national champions started their year with a win at the Mason Rudolph Fall Preview. UCLA earned a six-shot win over a very talented Alabama team in SEC country. Tiffany Lua was the top Bruins finisher, tying for fifth, but she had plenty of help from her other three Bruins teammates who finished in the top 20. In her first collegiate event, Erynne Lee tied for eighth, Ani Gulugian tied for 16th and Lee Lopez was T-20. There is no doubt UCLA showed how deep and talented it was as the Bruins played without senior Stephanie Kono and this summer’s WAPL champion, Brianna Do. Next up for the Bruins is the Stanford/Pepsi Invitational in two weeks.

Baylor (women): Out in the New Mexico desert, the Bears picked up an impressive victory over 17 other schools at the Dick McGuire Invitational. Trailing by three to TCU heading into the final round, the Bears posted a 295 to leapfrog the Horned Frogs and defeat TCU and Denver by four shots. Haley Davis and Chelsey Cothran both finished in the top 5 to lead Baylor to its first win of the year. Seniors Jaclyn Jansen and Valerie Sternbeck also were key contributors as they both finished in the top 40. Jay Goble and his Baylor Bears will try to make it two in a row in two weeks at the Price’s NMSU Women’s Golf Invitational.

Arkansas: At the Golfweek Conference Challenge, it was the Razorbacks from the SEC winning the trophy and conference bragging rights. For three rounds Arkansas and Chattanooga went back and forth on the leaderboard, but it was Pig Sooie coming out on top by seven strokes. Josh Eure was the team’s top finisher, as he was runner-up in the individual race, falling to the UT-Chattanooga’s Stephan Jaeger by a shot. As a team, Arkansas had four players finish in the top 20, and the Hogs are now 2-for-2 in tournaments this year. To start the year, Arkansas won the Gopher Invitational, and now the Razorbacks will go for the hat trick in two weeks at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational in Ohio.

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Thumbs down:

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets are considered to be a team that can compete for a national championship, but they struggled all week at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. With an eighth-place finish, Georgia Tech finished behind a few schools from smaller conferences like Ball State (MAC), New Mexico (Mountain West) and Chattanooga (Southern). Anders Albertson and James White were the only Yellow Jackets to finish in the top 20. Georgia Tech will look to bounce back in its home state at the Brickyard Collegiate in the coming weeks.

Golfers and their golf balls: Most schools have logos on their golf balls. The one thing I can’t figure out, however, is why players spend so much time marking their balls to make theirs “uniquely” different than the other players in their groups from other schools? If teams were playing on a links-style course, I can see the reason to mark balls. But on a spread-out course, why bother? For example, Oklahoma State players have a Cowboy on their ball, Georgia Tech has a GT on theirs, and Iowa has a Hawkeye. At the tee box, though, players are looking over at each other’s golf balls to see the difference. Is the logo of their own school not enough?

One-day shootouts: When inclement weather forces a tournament to be just 18 holes, anything can happen. Haven’t we heard that before? Oh, yeah, at the national championship in match play! In Washington at the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational, and in Toledo at the Inverness Intercollegiate, weather forced the tournament to be a one-day, 18-hole event. In Washington, 10 schools opted not to partake in the event and pulled out, but in Toledo some big schools took a big hit. Ohio State finished dead last, in 11th, and Florida finished T-7 with Michigan. Both schools took bad head-to-head losses to Penn State, Michigan State, Kentucky, Toledo and Liberty.

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