Weekly top 5: Weather wreaks havoc on college golf

Iowa State freshman Scott Fernandez

Iowa State freshman Scott Fernandez

1.) 18-Hole Shootouts: Inclement weather wreaked havoc at a few college tournaments earlier this week. Two of those events – should we call them the Anything Can Happen Invites? – were reduced to 18 holes. At the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational, Washington head coach Matt Thurmond, did something I have never seen.

“I couldn’t, in good conscience, force teams to play an 18-hole event,” Thurmond said. “If I were at another tournament and this was the situation, I would like to have the option to withdraw from the event and have it be acceptable.”

More than half the field decided not to play and will bank two days of competition, which will allow these teams to pick up a two-day event later in the year - most likely during the spring season. The event, which is one of the most supported events in college golf, continued with six teams playing 18 holes. Washing won, finishing six shot ahead of Fresno State.

photo

Gold Mountain Golf Course during the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational.

With so much at stake for the season, playing an 18-hole tournament can have tough consequences. The Inverness Intercollegiate also was reduced to just 18 holes and some big-name schools - Florida and Ohio State - took some losses they might not see over 54 holes.  Even I can beat Tiger Woods, or should I say Luke Donald, in a one-hole match.

With the cost of travel these days, it’s hard to swallow a trip and not play, but the results of just 18 holes can prove to be costly. However, the same situation can be very beneficial for others.

“Those that didn’t play can now play another event and they avoided the risk of a one-round disaster to start the season,” Thurmond said of the teams that decided to withdraw. “It was a tough situation, but I think we did the right thing and I completely understand any and all who decided it was in their best interest to withdraw. I may very well have done the same thing.”

This might be a good time for the NCAA golf committee to see if 18-hole events should count.

2.) New Cyclone: People close to the Iowa State golf program have said freshman Scott Fernandez might go down in history as one of the best Cyclone golfers of all time. I know, it’s only his second career start, but the Cyclones are looking for bright spots in a program that’s getting better.

Fernandez, from Grenada, Spain, won the VCU Shootout with rounds of 66-69-70 for an 11-under 205 total. He birdied his final two holes to finish one shot clear of East Carolina’s Adam Stephenson. The freshman’s 205 total ties the second-best 54-hole total in school history, one stroke shy of the school-record 204 set by Joe Cermak in 2006.

3.) Razorback Strong: I was on hand to witness Arkansas’ second victory in as many starts this fall at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. All I can say is the Razorbacks are really good. They have no real kinks in their armor and will certainly be a team that we should be talking about after 54 holes of stroke play next June at Riviera Country Club - site of the 2012 NCAA Championship.

Junior Josh Eure finished just one shot behind tournament champion Stephan Jaeger (Chattanooga) at the Conference Challenge and Eure was not even in the lineup at the season-opening Gopher Invitational. Ethan Tracy, a senior, led the Razorbacks in Minnesota. With Eure and Tracy leading head coach Brad McMakin’s squad in the first two events, this is a team that could have a different player in the No. 1 spot in each start. Sebastian Cappelen (sophomore), Austin Cook (junior) and Kolton Crawford (freshman) are all capable of winning events.

4.) Winning Streak: Carrie Forsyth and her UCLA Bruins picked up right where they left off last spring when they won in their first start of the season.

The NCAA defending champion Bruins won what we all know as the NCAA Fall Preview, but this year it was titled the Mason Rudolph Fall Preview. The victory is UCLA’s third consecutive dating back to last year. UCLA won the NCAA Central Regional and then the NCAA Championship.

How long can this win streak last? The Bruins are talented and they are deep.

After winning the season opener, UCLA junior Tiffany Lua said: “I think other schools have like a one-, two-, three-punch, but I think we have a seven-punch.”

UCLA’s lineup for this victory was: Lua, Erynne Lee, Ani Gulugian, Lee Lopez and Kyle Roig. Missing were Seniors Stephanie Kono and Brianna Do. Those two were absent at the Preview as they prepared for LPGA/Futures Tour Qualifying School.

In women’s golf, a team can be very good with just two or even three top players players. But seven? Now we are talking potential greatness.

5.) Mid-Major Sleepers: The Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings have been released for the first time this year and two teams jump out that have not received much attention early this year. The University of Central Florida checks in at No. 5 and Alabama-Birmingham is No. 11.

The Golden Knights opened the season with a very strong 10-shot win at the Northern Intercollegiate and then logged a second consecutive victory with a 9-shot routing at the Adams Cup. UAB has a win and a runner-up finish. The Blazers won The Sam Hall Intercollegiate and then placed second at the Saint Mary’s Invitational.

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