Cal, Texas, 'Bama highlight Southern Highlands field

Michael Weaver of Cal

Michael Weaver of Cal

In one of the best fields in college golf, Southern Highlands Golf Club can play as one of the toughest courses players will see all year. The Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas will play host to Golfweek’s top three teams and more.

Cal, Texas and Alabama, 1-2-3 in the rankings, respectively, are coming off victories in their respective last tournaments.

No. 1 California played earlier this week at the Fresno State Lexus Golf Classic in Fresno, Calif. The team won by 37 shots over tournament-host Fresno State to collect a school-record seventh victory of the season in eight starts. The team also finished 1-2-3 on the individual leaderboard. Sophomore Michael Kim, No. 1 in the Golfweek Rankings, won his third event in four starts dating back to the fall and has top-10 finishes in all eight tournaments this season. Brandon Hagy, who didn’t qualify for the Amer Ari Invitational, was back in the lineup and finished second, six shots behind Kim. U.S. Amateur runner-up Michael Weaver finished third.

Texas, No. 2 in the rankings, swept titles at the Bayou City Championship on Feb. 24. The Longhorns won their second title of the season with a 21-shot victory at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas. Freshman Brandon Stone, No. 2 in the Golfweek Rankings, won his second collegiate tournament by three shots over teammate Julio Vegas. Texas junior Toni Hakula finished T-3.

Alabama pulled away from the field at the Puerto Rico Classic in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, on Feb. 19 to win its second team title of the season. No. 3 in the Golfweek Rankings, Alabama won by seven shots over Oklahoma. Juniors Cory Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt finished in the top 10 for the Tide.

Take a look at some interesting facts for the tournament:

• All 15 teams are ranked inside the top 40 of the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.

• 8 of the top 10 teams in the Golfweek Rankings are at the tournament. No. 4 Washington is playing in the Bandon Dunes Championship and No. 9 TCU is playing in the San Diego Classic on Monday.

• Four of the top-10 individuals in the Golfweek Rankings are playing this week: Cal’s Michael Kim and Joel Stalter, Texas’ Brandon Stone and Alabama’s Justin Thomas.

• Tournament-host UNLV won the team and individual titles at the 2012 Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters. The Rebels won with an 8-over total while Blake Biddle won the individual title at 4 under.

• No. 7 USC won its last two tournaments — most recently, the North Ranch Intercollegiate by nine shots. Freshman Yi Keun Chang won medalist honors to capture his first collegiate victory.

• No. 5 New Mexico, No. 8 Duke and No. 26 Oklahoma all had runner-up finishes in their last outings: New Mexico at the John Burns, Duke at the John Hayt and Oklahoma at the Puerto Rico Classic.

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