Wildman’s Corner: Tournaments to watch
Rod Myers Invitational
Dates: Oct. 1-2
Course: The Duke Golf Club
2010 team champion: Iowa
2010 individual medalist: N.C. State’s Albin Choi
Field: Tennessee, Duke, North Carolina, Iowa, Tulsa, Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, East Tennessee State, Georgia Southern, Michigan and Baylor
The scoop: The first 36 holes of the 54-hole event will take place on Saturday, followed by the final 18 on Sunday. Duke had plenty of buzz entering the year after its final four appearance at last year’s NCAA Championship, but the Blue Devils started the year with a 13th-place finish at Olympia Fields. Tennessee enters the week coming off a runner-up finish at the Carpet Capital Collegiate to start its year, and Michigan is a team looking to establish a starting five after losing several players from last year’s team. With 11 teams in a quality field, this tournament should be a good one that goes to the wire.
Wildman’s pick: Baylor. The Bears are often forgotten in Big 12 Conference. Each week Baylor is struggling to find headlines, overshadowed by Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M. To start the year Baylor won the Tiger Intercollegiate and recently was runner-up at the Wolverine Intercollegiate. Baylor is a solid team that will get better throughout the year. A win in the Tar Heel State shouldn’t be a surprise.
Sleeper: Iowa. The Hawkeyes may have lost Vince India and Brad Hopfinger from last year’s team that won this event last year, but don’t sleep on the team from the Big Ten. Chris Brandt is playing really well for Iowa, and the Hawkeyes were impressive for the first two rounds of the Golfweek Conference Challenge. Many thought this would be a down year for Iowa, but so far this looks like a team that will compete often at tournaments. Iowa may not be as talented as it was a year ago, but coach Mark Hankins knows how to make winning teams. Look for Iowa to be in the hunt in the third and final round.
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Bettie Lou Evans Fall Invitational
Dates: Sept. 30-Oct. 2
Course: University Club of Lexington
Field: Akron, Augusta State, Chattanooga, Florida Southern, Illinois, Jacksonville State, Kennesaw State, Kentucky, Marshall, Miami, Michigan, Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi State, Murray State, Toledo and Central Florida
The scoop: Sixteen schools from several different states and conferences will compete in Kentucky’s backyard. For teams
such as Marshall, Middle Tennessee State, Toledo and Murray State, it gives them the opportunity to face some big teams from major conferences. Division II powerhouse Florida Southern is in the field, and the Mocs may be good enough to win this week. As for the Mocs of Chattanooga, they are looking to rebound after a disappointing 14th-place showing at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. Host Kentucky played well in its first event of the year with a third-place showing at the Texas A&M Mo’morial.
Wildman’s Pick: Florida Southern. How about that for a bold pick! We have seen NCAA Division II programs go to D-I tournaments and win it all, and Florida Southern is a real good team. To start the year the Mocs won the Daytona State Invitational. Their first win may have come against a Division II field, but their talent can’t be overlooked. The Mocs have four players with scoring averages in the mid-70s and that may be good enough to win this week. Also, Division II golfers don’t appreciate being overlooked all the time, so this may the motivation they need to surprise the country.
Sleeper: Augusta State. The Lady Jags are not too far behind the men’s program in garnering national recognition. Augusta State has solidified itself as a top-50 program, but now it’s time for the Jags to take the next jump forward. This will be Kory Thompson’s first tournament as the Lady Jags head coach, and she inherits a team that made it to the NCAA regionals last season. None of the other teams in the field have been dominant, so this could be a good way for Augusta State to start the year with a win.