Men's college golf preview: Top 2014 freshmen
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
It's move-in season for college freshmen. And that means it's time for college golf to ramp up again.
Some freshmen take the fall to get comfortable and acquainted to college golf, but that's not for everyone. Just ask Alabama's Robby Shelton, who shared medalist honors at his first collegiate event last year.
The class of 2014 is loaded with talent. Here's an in-depth look at some of the top players and what they can expect once they hit campus.
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The Outlook: After losing only one major contributor from a Big-12 Championship team, the Texas Longhorns are young and loaded with talent. Bringing in the country's best recruiting class will make qualifying rounds in Austin quite the competition. Scottie Scheffler and Doug Ghim could make an impact on this talented team, but opportunity won't be handed over on a silver platter. And don't forget about Taylor Funk, who will look to make a name for himself as well.
Hometown: Arlington Heights, Ill.
Ranking: 8 (World Amateur Golf Ranking)
Resume: Three-time Rolex Junior All-American, 2014 CB&I Boys Championship winner, lost 2014 Amateur Public Links final on 37th hole, 2014 Western Amateur medalist
Assets: "Very intelligent guy. ... He's a great ballstriker, super competitive person, loves to have fun and just enjoys being out on the golf course. He's got a lot of confidence in his game and who he is and enjoys every aspect of being at a golf tournament and competing against the best players in the country." - Texas head coach John Fields
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Ranking: 5 (WAGR)
Resume: Finished T-22 at 2014 PGA Tour HP Byron Nelson, 2013 AJGA Rolex Player of the Year, won 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur and 2014 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley
Assets: "Everyone in the world knows who Scottie Scheffler is (after he made the cut at a PGA Tour event). ... He's outstanding around the greens, and he's a great driver of the golf ball." - Fields
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School: Wake Forest
The outlook: The Wake Forest golf program has a proud history. With a list of alumni that includes Arnold Palmer, Jay Haas and son Bill, Webb Simpson and Curtis Strange, the school is a staple in college golf history. But the Demon Deacons have not been a major player on the national scene in years – in fact, they have not cracked the top five at the ACC Championship since 2010. Zalatoris brings serious momentum into his rookie season after an incredible summer (see resume). Last year, a Demon Deacon recorded an individual top-5 only six times (conference foe Georgia Tech, for comparison, owned 20 as a team). Wake Forest head coach Jerry Haas did a great job of drawing Zalatoris from Texas to Winston-Salem, N.C. Maybe Zalatoris can extend his hot streak and breathe new life into the storied program.
Ranking: 91 (WAGR)
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Resume: Won U.S. Junior Amateur, Texas Amateur and Trans-Miss Championship
Assets: "Hits it a mile; he can hit any shot. … He's probably one of the most talented kids I've had in a long time. He can really strike the golf ball." - Wake Forest head coach Jerry Haas
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The outlook: In head coach Jim Anderson's third year, Arizona will look to start making an impact in the Pac-12. In order to do that, the Wildcats will need Cunningham to make contributions early and often in Tucson.
Hometown: Tucson, Ariz.
Ranking: 632 (WAGR)
Resume: Won the 2013 TaylorMade-Adidas Junior at Innisbrook, finished runner-up at 2013 FootJoy Invitational and Junior Players Championship, set course record with 64 at 2010 AJGA Junior at Centennial
Assets: “George has taken his game all over the world to compete, and he brings a wealth of experience into the next phase of his career. The adjustment to college golf won’t be a problem for him, and he’ll have the ambition to be one of the best college players in the nation from the moment he arrives on campus.” - Arizona head coach Jim Anderson
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The outlook: Wood has been an impressive competitor on the junior circuit for years, and he will have the chance to step in at Duke and make an impact right away. After a season in which they finished 10th at the ACC Championship, the Blue Devils are looking for a standout golfer. Wood could be that guy.
Ranking: 163 (WAGR)
Hometown: Zionsville, Ind.
Resume: Won 2014 Northern Amateur. finished runner-up at the 2014 and 2013 Rolex Tournament of Champions, 2012 Polo Golf Junior Classic champion
Assets: "Adam is the complete package. His biggest strength is that he has no glaring weakness. Already comfortable competing at the highest level in amateur golf, it will be rewarding for Adam, his family and our team to see him progress further at the collegiate level." - Duke head coach Jamie Green
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Long and strong
School: Texas A&M
The outlook: Texas A&M had success last year, advancing to the NCAA Championship and earning 10 top-5 finishes as a team. But the young team had only three individuals post sub-73 scoring averages, and only two players posted more than one top 5. Champ could come in and be a factor on a team that has eight underclassmen.
Hometown: Sacramento, Calif.
Ranking: 110 (WAGR)
Resume: Three AJGA top-5s this year, including a runner-up finish at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, two-time Rolex Junior All-American, 2012 Junior PGA Ryder Cup Team member
Assets: “He is one of, if not the, very best player in the nation and is capable of overpowering a golf course. Cam is one of the longest hitters I have ever seen, and he hits it remarkably straight for someone who generates that much speed." - Texas A&M head coach J.T. Higgins
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The Outlook: Truslow joins a talented lineup in Charlottesville, including senior Denny McCarthy and sophomore Derek Bard. But Truslow has the skill set to step into any lineup and compete for a spot. That will be no different at Virginia. The rookie from Florida could be a key piece for a team that will look to compete for the ACC title.
Hometown: New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
Ranking: 156 (WAGR)
Resume: Won 2014 Puerto Rico Junior Open and 2013 Junior Players Championship, shot a 69 in second round of 2014 PGA Tour Puerto Rico Open
Assets: "He's an awfully strong kid and hits hit a long way. He's a very good ballstriker and has a really strong game from top to bottom. We're counting on him playing." - Virginia head coach Bowen Sargent
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The outlook: Head coach Mike Small's team is loaded. The Illini return Big Ten Player of the Year Brian Campbell and two All-Big Ten first-team selections: Thomas Detry and Charlie Danielson. With four of the team's top five performers returning, there won't be a lot of opportunity for Nick Hardy and Dylan Meyer to step in and contribute, but that doesn't mean they won't be able to learn from some of college golf's best players during what could be a national-championship run.
Hometown: Northbrook, Ill.
Ranking: 42 (WAGR)
Resume: Won 2013 AJGA Stonehenge Junior Open, advanced to the semifinals at 2014 Western Amateur
Assets: "Nick is a very talented and athletic player who really came into his own this year. He established himself as not only one of the top players in the Midwest but the nation. He proved that he's not afraid to shoot low numbers. He is very fundamentally sound and has a strong desire to be great." - Illinois head coach Mike Small
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Hometown: Evansville, Ind.
Ranking: 1,356 (WAGR)
Resume: Earned top five at 2014 Azalea Invitational, finished runner-up at 2013 Western Junior
Assets: "Dylan is very fundamentally sound. He has a lot of natural ability and is an excellent ballstriker. The rest of his game is catching up to his ballstriking ability, and when that happens, he could be outstanding. Dylan's strength is his consistency, which is extremely important." - Small
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The outlook: While Texas and Illinois are bringing in dynamic duos, North Carolina adds two of the country's top freshmen in William Register and Benjamin Griffin. Although the Tar Heels return their top five contributors from last year, the two rookies are talented enough to step in and make some noise in the ACC.
Hometown: Burlington, N.C.
Ranking: 176 (WAGR)
Resume: Three-time AJGA winner (2014 and 2013 Izod AJGA Championship, 2013 Exide Technologies Junior Open), named to North Carolina all-state team twice
Assets: "He is very familiar with our golf program and should transition in very well. He has continued to improve over the past few years and is not only a top-10 player in the country but an incredible student at Walter Williams High School." - North Carolina head coach Andrew Sapp
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Hometown: Chapel Hill, N.C.
Ranking: 342 (WAGR)
Resume: Won 2013 AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions, earned more than 20 top-10 finishes in amateur career, 2013 AJGA Rolex first-team All-American
Assets: "Ben has had a wonderful junior golf career, but in addition to that, he has played some great golf against college players and amateurs throughout the past two summers. He will come in to college golf extremely well prepared." - Sapp