The college golf season is officially back, and with it comes Golfweek’s weekly college golf notebook.
After joining the talented team of Golfweek reporters in February, I’m now entering my first full-season on the college and amateur beat. My notebook will aim to feature all the latest news and the best stories surrounding the wild world of men’s and women’s college golf.
While I’d like to think I’ve got a respectable handicap when it comes to my job, I could always use a good read. There are so many great stories that don’t get enough attention, so if you know of any, I’m all ears. You can find me on Twitter @AdamWoodard or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With that said, Golfweek takes a loop around the country to update you on all the latest news in the college game.
In my short time as a member of the golf community, I’ve been amazed at the support fans, players and coaches have for one another. Exhibit A: Kentucky’s Cullan Brown.
Just days before the start of his sophomore season, it was announced that Brown is battling a form of blood cancer in his left thigh called osteosarcoma. Due to the necessary chemotherapy and surgery, Brown withdrew from Kentucky to spend a year focusing on his health.
The outpouring of support on social media was incredible, as was the feature written by Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols that highlighted Brown’s ability to make everyone smile, despite his struggles. To Cullan: Keep positive and keep fighting. To Kentucky: Keep making those “Birdies for Brownie.”
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Staying on a somber note, Oklahoma State super booster T. Boone Pickens passed away this week at 91 due to natural causes. A member at Augusta National and a longtime supporter of the men’s and women’s programs at OSU, Pickens will be buried at Karsten Creek Golf Club, home to both golf teams.
Moving back to the action on the course, the season started earlier this month in Pebble Beach with the Carmel Cup, where Texas Tech stormed up the leaderboard with a final round 16 under to surpass the Oklahoma Sooners for the team title. The Red Raiders were led by Golfweek preseason first team All-American Sandy Scott, who shot a 7-under 65 to claim the individual title at 14 under.
At the 8th Golfweek Program Challenge, Jacksonville won for the third time in their last four appearances, but the biggest story was the individual medalist, North Carolina Wilmington’s Segundo Oliva Pinto. The sophomore from Argentina broke the course record by two strokes with a final-round, 9-under 61. He never made a bogey in 54 holes.
Notre Dame picked up the program’s biggest win in John Handrigan’s time in South Bend, claiming a 14-shot victory at the Badger Invitational at 22-under par. The 22 under total tied the program’s all-time lowest 54-hole score.
In a loaded field of talent, Baylor won for the 13th time under head coach Mike McGraw at the Gopher Invitational, beating Texas A&M by two strokes at the same course where McGraw logged his first win for the Bears.
Speaking of big victories, Georiga Tech started their 2019-20 season just as they did the year before: with a win. The Yellow Jackets’ 20-shot victory at the Carpet Capital Collegiate was their 10th victory in the event’s 31-year history and the 60th win for head coach Bruce Heppler, who is in his 25th season with the program.
High Point (North Carolina) won the women’s title at the Golfweek Program Challenge at 8-over 872, four strokes ahead of Marshall. The Panthers’ 8-over, 54-hole total is new school record, besting the previous mark by 11 strokes. Alongside her record-breaking teammate Pinto, UNC-Wilmington also had the top female finisher in Phu Khine who went 5-under 67 in the final round to finish the tournament 7-under 209.
A pair of women’s coaches in new jobs earned wins in their season openers. Lisa Strom spent the last three seasons at Texas State before taking over at Kent State. In her first tournament at the helm, the Golden Flashes had three players finish in the top 10 en route to a victory at the Branch Law Firm / Dick McGuire Invitational.
Greg Robertson played college golf at Oklahoma State, and left Kent State for the women’s job in Stillwater this summer. The Cowgirls won the Trinity Forest Invitational by six strokes, with Robertson saying “I think this win shows what we have as a team. Now, it’s time to build on it.”
With three freshmen playing in their first college tournament, the Kentucky women’s team battled through a delayed start Monday and three more lightning delays to earn a victory at the weather-shortened Minnesota Invitational. The Wildcats finished at 1-over 577, three shots clear of East Carolina.
At the Cougar Classic, Vanderbilt outlasted last year’s NCAA runner-up Wake Forest to win by one shot at 27-under 837. Vandy was led by wire-to-wire individual medalist Auston Kim, who bested the field at 16 under.