College golf blog: On the road to the NCAA Championship
The road all college golf teams hope to travel down this spring ends at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, site of the NCAA (...)
The road all college golf teams hope to travel down this spring ends at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, site of the NCAA Women’s Championship (May 21-26) and NCAA Men’s Championship (May 28-June 2).
After the NCAA canceled all spring sports on March 13 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many teams went as long as 10.5 months without teeing it up as a group. The first tournaments kicked off across the country in January and the Road to Grayhawk resumes. Interested in all things college golf in 2021? Be sure to check this page for the latest updates in the game.
The Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings can be found at these links:
Men’s team | Men’s indiv. | Women’s team | Women’s indiv.
Keep tabs on the spring season: Men | Women
New UTEP golf coach Derek Plucienski settling in
At 32 years old, new UTEP golf coach Derek Plucienski is young as far as veteran head coaches go, but he’s old enough to know he’s part of the game he wants to be with the rest of his career.
He’s known for quite a while he’s a golf lifer.
From an all-Conference USA player at Southern Miss through 2012, to two years as a pro, to a stint as golf administrator, to an assistant coach at Louisiana-Lafayette, to head coach at McNeese State, then on to UTEP, Plucienski has moved around, but his devotion to the game he’s always loved has been constant.
“It took me three years to line up a college coaching job, but I always knew that’s what I wanted to do,” said Plueienski, who was in tournament operations and management for the Gulf States PGA and the APT pro tours from 2015-17.
“I wanted to stay in the golf business wherever I could, and I wanted to be a college coach. I had an incredible experience in college golf and I wanted to stay in it.”
Staying in it while moving to El Paso was a big bonus when the opportunity arrived after a year and a half at the helm of McNeese State’s program.
“I consider El Paso a golfing community,” Plucienski said. “The weather is amazing, there are great courses around town, a golfer’s paradise. And I’ve walked into a great group. I played college golf at Southern Miss, I always knew UTEP had a strong program.”
In their season opener at Palm Desert, Calif., UTEP was 12th out of 20 teams.
-Bret Bloomquist, El Paso Times
Ringler: Five things we learned in college golf this week
Still No. 1. Oklahoma has been the top team all year in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings and stayed there after a victory at the Cabo Collegiate played at TPC San Antonio. The victory was clinched with a five-foot putt from Garett Reband on the final hole to finish one shot ahead of Florida State. The win is also the 26 team title for head coach Ryan Hybl, who has been in Norman, Oklahoma, since 2009.
#Sooners | #L1S pic.twitter.com/BOyoRrICp1
— Oklahoma Golf (@OU_MGolf) March 4, 2021
New No. 1 in women’s golf. With Baylor’s 11th place finish at the Gamecock Intercollegiate, the Bears dropped out of the top spot in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings. Florida State moved into the top spot followed by Wake Forest. Baylor is third. Recently, the Seminoles won their own Florida State Match-Up at the Seminole Legacy Golf Course by 37 shots over Kent State.
Still Undefeated. Only five teams remain without a head-to-head loss in college golf. On the men’s side its Illinois, Tennessee-Martin and Northern Illinois. For the women its two teams: Southern California and Stanford.
Have you noticed Maryland yet? For a period of time early in the final round of the Maryland women’s team last event – Florida Gators Invite – the Terrapins were leading and eventually ended up T-3 with Alabama, losing to only Florida and Ole Miss. To start the spring, Maryland was second to Michigan State by a single shot at the FAU Paradise Invitational. What does this tell us? It tells us Maryland continues to climb. They finished outside top 100 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings following the 2016 season. They check in at No. 18 early this week.
Arkansas State still a mid-major power. The Red Wolves placed fourth at the LSU Invitational this past week finishing ahead of 10 SEC schools. Head coach Mike Hagen continues to keep the program heading in the right direction. Hagen was hired in the summer of 2015 following the 2014-15 season that saw Arkansas State finish 194th in the rankings.
Arkansas State by the years…
2014-15 – 194th
2015-16 – 79th
2016-17 – 96th
2017-18 – 79th
2018-19 – 42nd
2019-20 – 48th
2020-21 – 21st (currently)
Course envy: Pinehurst No. 2 hosted a college golf tournament this week
From the college-golf-tournaments-are-at-the-coolest-places files, we’d like to call your attention to this week’s Wake Forest Invitational at Pinehurst No. 2, site of three U.S. Opens and most recently, the 2019 U.S. Amateur.
The Demon Deacons not only hosted but won the event, going 6 under for 54 holes to finish nine shots ahead of North Carolina. The Carolinas were well represented at the top of the leaderboard, with N.C. State and Duke checking in at Nos. 3 and 4 on the leaderboard.
Wake Forest has now won three of four starts this spring and finished no worse than second. Freshman Michael Brennan has won twice.
Time to hit some greens, fellas
Scoring updates https://t.co/J49rniQSrX#GoDeacs pic.twitter.com/acdn3urxN8
— Wake Men's Golf (@WakeMGolf) March 1, 2021
Expect the .500 rule to return in men’s college golf next season
As college coaches know, competition schedules come together months in advance, so expect that many college coaches are in the process of putting together next year’s tournament lineup.
In light of that, the Golf Coaches Association of America issued a reminder to coaches this week indicating the .500 rule would be back in play for the 2021-22 season. The .500 rule was waived for the 2020-21 season to account for scheduling complications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A message shared on Twitter by a pair of college coaches who run the Any Given Tuesday Twitter account is pictured below.
Great to see decisions being made that are in the best interest for our sport as a whole… .500 rule is back!!! #AnyGivenTuesday #WinPercentageMatters pic.twitter.com/2nvqNPhOwX
— Any Given Tuesday (@any_given_tues) March 2, 2021
Teams and players of the week
Golfweek has brought back weekly awards for college golf. Here’s who won the honors this week:
- Women’s team of the week: Baylor
- Women’s player of the week: Beatrice Wallin, Florida State
- Men’s team of the week: Illinois
- Men’s player of the week: Dan Erickson, Texas A&M
The 41-team Kiawah Island Classic is under way, and with a D-2 team at the top
A college golf event with 41 teams? It’s happening this week in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
The College of Charleston women’s golf team annually hosts the Kiawah Island Classic over two golf courses, Cougar Point and Oak Point at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, and every bit of that space is likely needed for such a large field. This year, that’s 41 teams.
Because of the size of the event, the format takes on a unique twist. After 36 holes, the top 19 teams will compete for for the championship at Cougar Point while teams 20-41 will play for a flight championship at Oak Point.
Last year, College of Charleston won the team title at its own event with a 54-hole total of 4-under 860. Remarkably, 53 teams competed in the 2020 field.
Midway through the second round in Kiawah, Dallas Baptist, an NCAA Division II school that landed atop the first women’s coaches poll last month, led the field.
Keep up with scoring here.
Florida State women win by 37 shots on their own Seminole Legacy Club, showing new course is a game-changer
A coach never really knows what her squad will do in competition until she puts them in competition. So despite having spent time with her players this fall – individual time, something she chalks up as a silver lining to COVID – Amy Bond really wasn’t certain how this spring would go for Florida State. As a member of the ACC, Florida State didn’t play the fall, meaning 11 and a half months elapsed from the end of last spring to the start of this one.
“For the first time in 20 years of coaching, I had no idea how this team was going to play,” Bond said. “No clue. With three freshmen in the lineup, you never know what you’re going to get.”
In two starts, Florida State’s women have finished fourth and now first at their home event, the Florida State Match-Up. The Seminoles left the field in the dust at their new Seminole Legacy Golf Club this weekend, a course that will celebrate the one-year anniversary of its reopening next week.
Florida State went 9 under as a team for 54 holes, with junior Beatrice Wallin going 12 under on her own to win the individual title and set an individual record for Florida State’s home event. Kent State, the next-best team, was 37 shots back, followed by Michigan four shots behind that.
“To be honest, our qualifying scores weren’t this good,” Bond said. “We hadn’t broken par as a team in qualifying so to do what they did on Friday and Saturday (6 under both days), we just hadn’t seen it.”
Florida State’s home course has a totally new look after of its Don Veller Seminole Golf Course and Club under the direction of the Nicklaus Design company. The new Seminole Legacy Club requires every kind of shot. Bond wants it to be the hardest course her players ever see. At the suggestion of assistant coach Matt Whall, Bond required this season that every player earn her team golf bag by scoring a certain number from four of the five sets of tees at Seminole Legacy Club. Only three players have done it.
Wallin was the first to get hers back in the late fall, and Bond had to keep coming up with new challenges for her after that. She sent her to the tips – which measure nearly 8,000 yards – before Wallin played the U.S. Women’s Open in December.
Wallin liked that her coaches kept it spicy in the fall, even with no official tournaments. But oh, is it good to be back now. For every one of Florida State’s five counters, this was the first time the annual Florida State Match-Up has truly been played on the Seminoles’ home golf course. Wallin loved sleeping in her own bed and clearly took advantage of the local knowledge.
“We were all super excited and then when we all played well, it was just awesome to see,” she said. “My own game was really good so I was just … enjoying every single moment.”
A WD and a DQ leaves Alabama unable to field a team score at LSU Invitational; sends Tide to bottom of leaderboard
Alabam’s men charted a significant rise up the LSU Invitational leaderboard in Saturday’s second round at the University Club in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Alabama’s second round even-par 288 moved the team up six spots into eighth to start the final round.
Senior Davis Shore had withdrawn before the start of the second round when a back injury flared up, leaving the team with just four counters. The only problem was that on Sunday morning, Alabama realized it needed the luxury of that drop score. When the Tide returned to the course for the final round, they learned that freshman JP Cave had signed for a second-round 76 when in fact he shot a 77 – his official scorecard showed a 5 on the par-4 15th when it should have been a 6.
Signing the incorrect scorecard disqualified Cave, and because Alabama no longer had four scores to count in the second round, it was unable to field a team score. That dropped Alabama to the very bottom of the leaderboard, and the Tide will now walk away from the event with a loss to every one of the other 14 teams in the field.
Head coach Jay Seawell said the following in a school release:
“I’ve been coaching for 29 years and this is the first time I’ve ever had a kid sign for an incorrect card. Those are the rules of golf and that responsibility at the end of the day falls on me as the head coach. I hate it for the guys because I really wanted to see how they would compete as a team and we didn’t get that opportunity. In the end, life has a lot of learning experiences and sometimes they are harder than others, but it is just a game and just golf and we will learn from it. We’ll make sure to do some things to talk about and move forward on and we’ll do some things in the future where certain things won’t happen. I look forward to seeing how we handle it. That’s what we talked about at the end the round. This can define us negatively or positively depending on how we handle it. I believe in the character of this team and we’ll go to work to make sure we are positive.”
Valero Texas Open to Extend Exemption to Cabo Collegiate Medalist
Valero Texas Open officials announced Friday the San Antonio PGA Tour event will offer an exemption to the medalist of the 2021 Cabo Collegiate.
The Cabo Collegiate, held at TPC San Antonio’s Oaks Course March 1-3, was relocated from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, due to coronavirus restrictions. The event will include 16 NCAA Division I teams.
The Valero Texas Open is scheduled for March 29-April 4.
“We’re excited to support golf at the college level and to have such an elite field of student athletes playing our tournament course here in San Antonio,” said Larson Segerdahl, Valero Texas Open Executive Director. “From our perspective, it makes great sense to reward the talent and skill of the top finisher in this year’s Cabo Collegiate at TPC San Antonio with an opportunity to test themselves next month on the same course against the world’s best.”
Past winners of the event
2020 – Walker Lee (Texas A&M)
2019 – Austin Eckroat (Okla. St.)
2018 – Collin Morikawa (California)
2017 – Corey Pereira (Washington)
2016 – Aksel Olsen (USF-Bulls)
2015 – C.T. Pan (Washington)
2014 – Roman Robledo (Houston)
2013 – Will Bishop (Kentucky)
2012 – Sebastian Cappelen (Arkansas)
2011 – Jamie Marshall (Arkansas)
Coaching without an assistant: Who does it best?
An assistant coach isn’t a given in college golf. It can be an art form to juggle the needs of five players (or more) in tournament play when a coach is riding solo on the golf cart.
It also begs the question, who are some of the top solo coaches in the game? In other words, what one-man (or woman) band does the best juggling act?
That question was posed on Twitter this week by our friends at Any Given Tuesday. Be sure to scroll the whole thread.
Who are some of the top “One Man/Women Band” programs in all @NCAA golf??? #AnyGivenTuesday
One Man/Women Band Programs = While box lunches are being distributed, no one is coaching the passengers.
— Any Given Tuesday (@any_given_tues) February 25, 2021
This junior college team is on a two-tournament winning streak…in Division I fields
Seminole State’s women are on a two-tournament winning streak, one that’s significant because of the fields in which the Raiders have competed. Seminole State, a junior college in Sanford, Florida, has shown it can stack up quite well against Division I teams.
The Raiders started the spring by winning the JU Amelia Island Collegiate on Feb. 16. The team went 20 over for 54 holes at Amelia National Golf Club in Jacksonville, Florida, which was 15 shots better than runner-up Jacksonville State.
From there, Seminole State headed north to the 12-team Strutter Gus Invitational, a 54-hole event at Georgia South GC in Statesboro, Georgia. The Raiders edged host Georgia Southern by a single shot at 56 over, also picking up wins on teams like High Point, North Carolina-Greensboro, Illinois State and Georgia State.
“Alex Giles had a breakout weekend with her short game,” head coach Christa Teno said. “Minami finished strong as did Phai (Ranida) with two birdies in the last three holes to put us in the lead. It was a cold, muddy, frosty course with unbelievably fast greens for the conditions. Real proud of our grit.”
Don’t know much about Seminole State? The team has finished among the top 3 junior colleges in the nation every year since 2009 and was No. 1 in the NJCAA when the 2019-20 season was canceled. The Raiders won national titles in 2015 and 2019, and in the spring of 2022 will host the national championship at Timacuan Golf Club in Lake Mary, Florida.
Florida women win home event for sixth straight year, this time without a final-round drop score
Florida’s women are working on quite the victory streak at home. When the Gators shared the team title with Ole Miss at their own Gators Invitational on Tuesday, it marked the sixth consecutive year that the team has won at least a share of the title at its home event.
At the start of the day, Florida was six shots off the lead. The Gators climbed four spots on the leaderboard with a 2-under final-round score at Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville, Florida. That was the best round of the day by six shots.
What made it more impressive? Florida’s No. 2 player, senior Addie Baggarly, didn’t contribute to the team score in the final round after withdrawing because of illness. Without the luxury of a drop score, Florida got big performances from sophomores Annabell Fuller (66) and Marina Escobar Domingo (69). Fuller won the individual title at 5 under, the first win of her college career.
“It was a fantastic finish and I’m really proud of the team,” head coach Emily Glaser said. “They were poised and determined today. It was one of the more special moments I can remember in my time at Florida.”
For Colorado State, back-to-back desert openers provide a starting point
Christian Newton has been trying to get his Colorado State team in the Prestige at PGA West field for years. It’s a marquee event on the spring college golf schedule, and a tough one to crack.
Instead of competing as a team at PGA West in La Quinta, California, Newton brought six players to the Prestige Individual event next door at Coral Mountain Golf Club earlier this month. The Rams typically take a spring trip to the California desert anyway. It just included competition this time.
“Normally you might not necessarily be able to do something like that because of your limitation of play days, but we didn’t play this fall and so we had plenty of days,” Newton said. “…Normally we go down to Palm Springs and play a bunch of golf and qualify but not quite the same level of pressure.
“We thought it would be a great opportunity to go out and sharpen the pencil in a national tournament and it turned out to be a pretty good way to start.”
Fifth-year senior AJ Ott won the individual title in the Prestige individual event, and teed it up two days later at the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate determined to back that up with a full-field win. No problem for Ott, the 2019 Southern Amateur champion, who went 11 under at the Classic Club and won that title by two shots.
They were the first two individual titles of his college career.
Newton called the eight days spent with his team in Southern California a little Groundhog Day-ish: up early, play golf, practice, dinner, hotel, do it all over again. After Colorado State finished sixth at Wyoming’s event, Newton looked down the lineup for areas of improvement.
“Especially rolling into those fields with all those top teams,” Newton said, “we know we’ve got to get better production out of the end of that lineup.”
Excellent practice weekend for the Rams. Special thanks to Shawn Munn making it possible. #proudtobe #csurams pic.twitter.com/u3vuQgJcUA
— Colorado State Men's Golf (@CSUMGolf) February 7, 2021
Colorado State was ranked No. 16 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings when COVID shut down the spring season last March. The Rams had won three titles – which included co-medaling with BYU at Alabama’s Jerry Pate Intercollegiate in early October – and were in good position for a postseason berth. A year earlier, Colorado State lost in a playoff to barely miss a trip to the NCAA Championship.
The 2020 fall season was uncertain, and ultimately Colorado State didn’t compete. Newton encouraged his men to stay home and practice on their own. He struggled with ways to keep the team atmosphere going with his team scattered.
“I don’t think I was a very good coach this fall – that’s totally honest and I told them that,” he said. “I’m much better now that I’ve got them all back and a little more free reign on what we can do.”
And so, Colorado State keeps building back.
Teams and players of the week
Golfweek has brought back weekly awards for college golf. Here’s who won the honors this week:
- Women’s team of the week: South Carolina
- Women’s player of the week: Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, South Carolina
- Men’s team of the week: Florida State
- Men’s player of the week: AJ Ott, Colorado State
Wake Forest women, Rachel Kuehn sweep Palmetto Intercollegiate
The Wake Forest women, led by sophomore Rachel Kuehn, swept the Palmetto Intercollegiate at Turtle Point Golf Course on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, on Monday.
The Demon Deacons picked up their first win of the spring following a second-place finish at their season-opening UCF Challenge earlier this month. Wake was the lone team under par in the final round, riding a score of 1 under on Monday to a 28 shot win, the second-largest margin of victory in program history.
“We’re fortunate to have a lot of depth on our team, where any of our players can take an individual title,” said head coach Kim Lewellen. “But what makes them so special is that they root for one another to play their best, whether that means they may be beaten that week for the individual title, but they know in the long run it can only help Wake Forest. It’s been wonderful to compete after such a long sabbatical and we look forward to what’s ahead.”
Rolling up to collect the hardware #GoDeacs pic.twitter.com/EdkT92vdeq
— Wake Women's Golf (@WakeWGolf) February 22, 2021
Kuehn earned her second collegiate win, beating teammate Lauren Walsh by one shot after a 3-under 69 in the final round. The Asheville, North Carolina, native won her first-ever collegiate event in 2019 at the loaded ANNIKA Intercollegiate.
“It was a great week for our team. We played well under tough conditions and grinded to finish on top,” said Kuehn. “I’m super excited to get the individual win, too. After missing our fall season, it feels great to start the spring season on a high note. Hopefully we all can use this momentum and keep it rolling through the spring and into post season.”
USC fields a team for Gold Rush despite three players in COVID protocols
USC’s women have won twice already this spring. Combine them with two victories in the spring of 2020, and the Trojans are on a four-tournament winning streak. When they go for a fifth consecutive at the Gold Rush in Seal Beach, California, on Monday, it will be with a slightly different lineup.
According to a school release, three USC players as well as an assistant coach will miss the tournament while in COVID-19 protocols. The players were not identified, but the release also noted that the remaining lineup was cleared to compete at Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach, California, through contact tracing conducted by USC Student Health.
USC will start Allisen Corpuz, Alyaa Abdulghany, Malia Nam, Katherine Muzi and, for the first time this season, freshman Christine Wang.
Notably, that leaves out Amelia Garvey and Brianna Navarrosa, who started in each of USC’s last two events, as well as Alexa Melton, who competed as an individual with USC last week. Olivia Yun, a freshman who has not yet made the lineup, also does not appear on the Gold Rush tee sheet for USC.
The 11-team field will play 36 holes on Monday Feb. 22 and will be paired only with teammates. USC is competing at the event for the first time since winning the 2016 Gold Rush.
Kansas reports positive COVID-19 test, WDs mid-tournament
Kansas was off to a great start at the Desert Intercollegiate. The Jayhawks produced a 14-under 274 on Friday at the Classic Club in Palm Desert, California, and were in the lead, two shots ahead of Georgia Tech.
That came crashing down on Saturday when the team announced it would withdraw from the event within the team.
According to a school release, “Kansas will not participate during the final two days Saturday and Sunday, and will return to Lawrence following the health and safety protocols set by Kansas Team Health.”
The statement also noted that the team would “pause all activities at this time.”
Normally when a team must withdraw after the start of a tournament – or cannot field a four-player score for whatever reason (typically multiple players being disqualified, injured or ill) – that team would take a loss to every other team in the field. This happens occasionally, and it happened as recently as two years ago to Iowa’s men (at the Marquette Intercollegiate in October 2018) and SMU’s men (at the Goodwin in 2019). The mid-tournament WD amounted to a huge blow for both teams, but remarkably, SMU managed to still secure a spot in the NCAA Championship to end the 2018-19 season and even made the eight-team match-play bracket.
In a normal year Kansas, which entered the Desert Intercollegiate field ranked No. 24 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, would take 13 losses this week. However, we all know this isn’t a normal year. We expect that the NCAA Division I Championship Committee will not count this event for the Jayhawks and it will not be reflected in their Golfstat ranking.
The Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings will not count the event for Kansas.
-Julie Williams, Lance Ringler
Ringler: Five things we learned in college golf this week
The Prestige! It was a bit of a Pac-12 Conference preview at PGA West this week with nine of the 12 teams in the league playing the 24-team event. Going into the event, teams like Arizona State and Pepperdine were considered favorites to win. But Arizona and North Carolina ended the event as co-champions. Which team was more impressive? That’s a tough one to answer. The Wildcats are on an incredible rise back to the elite level of college golf but then again, not many expect a team from the East Coast to win in the desert.
Win No. 40 for Wake Forest coach? Jerry Haas picked up win No. 40 with a victory at the Kiawah Invitational this past week. Wake Forest’s win was even more impressive due to the fact the Deacons were playing without their top two players from last year in Mark Power (No. 22) and Alex Fitzpatrick (No. 62). Power and Fitzpatrick had played in the previous two starts this spring. Wake Forest won the Kiawah Invitational by 9 shots over Clemson. Leading the way and winning his first collegiate victory was freshman Michael Brennan.
WAKE. FOREST #GoDeacs pic.twitter.com/tUGJ7WhvyF
— Wake Men's Golf (@WakeMGolf) February 17, 2021
Illinois plays for the first time. Almost a full year passed since Illinois last competed in a college golf tournament. Obviously we will need to see more than just one event before we can determine just how good Mike Small’s squad is this year. But, the return was a bit of a statement. Playing in not-so-great conditions, the Illini shot 37 under to win the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate by 17 shots. Maybe more impressive was that fifth-year senior Michael Feagles posted an 8-shot win with a 16-under total to lead the way. Next up for the Fighting Illini is a trip to SEC country and the LSU Invitational in late February.
Southern California winning streak goes to four. USC’s current four-tournament win streak ties for the second-longest win streak in program history. The team’s two wins to start the season is the most since opening 2014 with five straight wins. USC needs to pick up another four titles to match its longest winning streak of eight tournaments, which it reached by combining the final three wins of 2013 and first five of 2014. Do the Trojans have it in them? The restart has seen USC win the Lamkin San Diego Invitational and Sun Devil Winter Classic. Fifth-year senior Allisen Corpuz has led the Trojans in both events this spring with a win in San Diego and T-3 at the Sun Devil.
Three teams look a little better. As I see it right now, with the events that have been played, there are three teams that stand a little taller. Baylor, Southern California and South Carolina. The Gamecocks went wire-to-wire to win the Moon Golf Invitational to win for the second time in four starts this year. Southern California (see above) who is perfect to start 2021 joins Baylor, who is undefeated in four starts. Will anyone else join them? This will be fun to follow this spring.
Follow us on this: A Wyoming tournament starts today in Palm Springs
Twenty-one men’s college golf teams, including three that played in a desert tournament earlier this week, will begin play Friday in the three-day Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate tournament at Classic Club in Palm Desert.
Hosted by the University of Wyoming, the tournament will be played under Riverside County and state COVID-19 restrictions, which include having no spectators on the course.
Among the teams in the field are Wyoming, UCLA and Oregon, who all played in the Prestige tournament at PGA West on Monday through Wednesday. Other colleges in the event include UC Riverside, Fresno State, the University of San Diego, Colorado, Colorado State and Cal State Northridge.
Tee times run from 7 to 9:20 a.m. on the first and 10th tees of Classic Club. In addition to the 21 teams, 15 additional individual players from participating teams will play for the individual title.
— Larry Bohannan, Palm Springs Desert Sun
At Genesis, coach decides to caddie for player after all
Feb. 18, 2021
Minnesota stand-out golfer Angus Flanagan won a playoff on Monday in the Genesis Invitational Collegiate Showcase, earning the final spot in the Genesis Invitational. After his victory, Flanagan was asked who will caddie for him. He said he wasn’t sure, as he was still taking in his big win. His coach, Justin Smith, was asked as well and he said he’d do it. “Whatever he wants,” Smith said.
By Thursday, coach was indeed on the bag. Flanagan shot a 4-over 75 playing alongside Willie Mack III and John Augunstein in the first round.
— Todd Kelly, Golfweek
Why isn’t Florida State hosting on its new home course this weekend?
The big event on this week’s college golf schedule? It’s the Florida State-hosted Seminole Intercollegiate at Golden Eagle Country Club in Tallahassee, Florida. Highlights among the 16-team field include top-ranked Oklahoma, plus Oklahoma State, Liberty, Duke, North Florida and of course Florida State as host.
That field should garner some attention, as should the venue.
In the fall of 2018, Florida State started work on an $8 million renovation of its Don Veller Seminole Golf Course and Club. Under the direction of the Nicklaus Design company, the Seminole Legacy Golf Club was born, and it opened for play last spring.
Florida State will host an NCAA men’s regional at the new Legacy course in May. So why not host its annual Seminole Intercollegiate there this week? NCAA rules don’t explicitly prohibit head coach Trey Jones from doing so, but a recent trend in the selection of regional fields indicates that if a team were to play in the Seminole Intercollegiate at Legacy, it might hurt that team’s chance of being assigned to Florida State’s regional in May.
The NCAA Division I Championship Committee has seemingly been reluctant to assign a team to a regional if it competed at that venue during the regular season. It can be a postseason advantage for teams to have played an event at an NCAA Regional site during the regular season, and then get to come back to compete there in the postseason.
Which, of course, is the benefit of being the host team. Then you can play it every day.
Get ready for more post-season golf in Tallahassee!
The @NCAA announced that the ???????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????? ???????????????? ???????????????? will host a 2025 men's golf regional and a 2026 women's golf regional! pic.twitter.com/LTMnVn41W2
— FSU Golf (@FSUGolf) October 14, 2020
Prestige ends in a tie at PGA West
After 54 holes at PGA West, the Prestige ended with ties at the top of the leaderboard. On the individual side, Arizona’s Trevor Werbylo, TCU’s Jacob Skov Oleson and Texas Tech’s Ludvig Aberg all finished at 4 under to split the title.
North Carolina wrapped up its week at 4 under, then waited for nearly an hour as Arizona finished at the same number.
North Carolina’s 4-under total for the final 18 holes was the second-best total of the day behind only Stanford’s 8-under performance. Arizona finished 1-over for the day, while Pepperdine, the second-round lead, struggled to a 5-over final round. Pepperdine had a chance to join the team tie, but Joey Vrzich’s 12-foot birdie putt burned the right edge of the cup and stayed out.
Check out the full recap, and images from PGA West, here.
Make it four in a row: USC women win again
USC’s women were on a two-tournament winning streak when COVID abruptly ended the 2019-20 season last March. The Trojans picked it up easily enough, even after 10 months off, by winning their first start back earlier this month at the Lamkin Grips SD Classic. On Wednesday, a four-shot victory over host Arizona State at the Sun Devil Winter Classic extended the streak to four.
For the second consecutive tournament, fifth-year senior Allisen Corpuz led the way. After winning the Lamkin Grips individual title, Corpuz had a team-best third-place finish with her 3-under total at the Talking Stick Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. Alyaa Abdulghany and Amelia Garvey both finished in the top 5, too, and Brianna Navarrosa was T-11.
Alexa Melton, a transfer from Pepperdine, made her competitive debut for USC as an individual. Her opening 3-under 69 was the lowest Trojan score in that round, and she ended up in a tie for ninth.
“That was an incredible effort all week from our starting five and Alexa competing as an individual,” USC Head Coach Justin Silverstein said. “This golf course provided a unique test for us and our team did an unbelievable job adjusting as the week went on and the conditions changed.”
USC’s current four-tournament win streak ties for the second-longest win streak in program history and its two wins to start the season is its most since opening 2014 with five straight wins.
Meet Rebecca Skoler, the Virginia freshman who hit balls through a downpour on Tuesday
Given the early-week forecast for Central Florida, the fact that Virginia logged a third-place finish at the Moon Golf Invitational in Melbourne, Florida, on Tuesday under sunny skies was something like a miracle. But 175 miles south in Miami, the sky was a decidedly different color. That’s where UVA freshman Rebecca Skoler spent the day.
In fact, video of Skoler braving a downpour circulated all around Twitter on Tuesday evening.
— Virginia Women's Golf (@UVAWomensGolf) February 16, 2021
Skoler is coming off surgery to her right hand in November, and had barely started swinging again by early January when team qualifying began.
“I decided I didn’t want to come back and jump right back into qualifying,” Skoler said, so she headed to Florida to work on her game with swing coach David Armitage and continue her classes online.
She was supposed to have a club fitting at La Gorce Country Club on Tuesday but a weather alarm sounded minutes after arriving there. So she and her dad drove back to Trump Doral and hit the practice facilities.
Related: Virginia women win season-opener in Orlando
Skoler could see the clouds circling on the practice range and soon felt a drizzle turn into a downpour. She figured it would pass and didn’t even realize she was being filmed as she continued to hit golf balls. Considering she hails from Boston, it’s no wonder Skoler isn’t scared off by a bit of weather.
Virginia competes in the ACC and thus did not play as a team in the first half of the season. Skoler was on campus through the fall and through the start of January. Despite not competing with the team yet, she has relished the college golf experience – even this not-so-normal one.
“It’s been really fun having a team that’s super different than what I’m used to,” she said, “having a team to practice with and compete with on a daily basis, having a close friend group where you are all brought together by a passion of yours, you’re super motivated.”
Illinois men are back. But are they back back?
Almost one year removed from tournament play, Illinois returned to the links this week to compete at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate. Head coach Mike Small last saw his team tee it up in an event in Feb. 20-22, 2020 at the John Burns Intercollegiate. The Illini placed fourth.
On Tuesday, Illinois’ return was noticeable. A 37-under team total at Magnolia Grove Crossings Golf Course in Mobile, Alabama, resulted in a wire-to-wire win and a 17-shot margin of victory over runner-up Indiana.
Man, it’s good to be back! Great team win https://t.co/Vsye4D05ML
— Michael Feagles (@dafeags) February 17, 2021
Michael Feagles, who is in his fifth year carrying an Illinois golf bag, led the way and nearly broke 200 in the 54-hole event. Feagles posted rounds of 67-67-66 to finish at 16 under and win by eight shots. In all, Illinois placed three golfers in the top 3 on the leaderboard including Jerry Ji (2nd) and Tommy Kuhl (T3rd).
Now the question: Is this a sign of the Illini’s return to NCAA contender?
Illinois had been in a slight slide since finishing the 2014-15 season ranked No. 1.
Illinois’ history in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings
2019-20 – 34th
2018-19 – 23rd
2017-18 – 11th
2016-17 – 6th
2015-16 – 2nd
2014-15 – 1st
“It was fun to get back out and compete,” Small said. “These guys were so excited to play this week. I can say they all genuinely love college golf, and love playing with each other, for Illinois. To see their excitement to get back out there and play after what happened 11 months ago was just awesome to see.
What else will we see from Illinois this spring? We will find out a lot more when Small takes his team to the LSU Invitational later this month.
North Florida women run away with wire-to-wire title
It’s not easy to win a college golf tournament, that is unless you get all five starters to finish inside the top 20.
That was North Florida’s recipe for success this week, cooking up a 16-shot victory at the First Coast Classic. At 6 under, the Ospreys were the only team to finish under par for the week, setting the program record for lowest 54-hole score at 858. Troy finished second at 10 over, followed by Arkansas State (13 over), Florida International (16 over) and Western Kentucky and South Alabama (T-5, 27 over).
North Florida was led by junior Daniela Gonzalez (T-3, 3 under) and senior Sara McKevitt (T-5, 2 under), who each finished inside the top five for the second time in their careers.
We are the !!
Earn home tourney title for 3rd time in a row
Set 2⃣ program records
All 5⃣ finish in 20
Win by 16 strokes#SWOOPLife
— UNF Women's Golf (@OspreyWGolf) February 16, 2021
Teams and players of the week
Golfweek has brought back weekly awards for college golf. Here’s who won the honors this week:
- Women’s team of the week: Oklahoma State
- Women’s player of the week: Maja Stark, Oklahoma State
- Men’s team of the week: Florida
- Men’s player of the week: Blake Tomlinson, Utah
Louisiana Tech gets record win as last-minute entry in La Tour Intercollegiate
Louisiana Tech made the most of an early-season reroute, winning the La Tour Intercollegiate on Sunday as a last-minute entry.
Coach Matt Terry’s team was scheduled to play the All-American Intercollegiate at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble, Texas, as a spring opener this weekend, but that event was canceled as a severe winter storm hit Texas. As soon as the All-American went off the table, Terry, who felt his men needed to play this week, began searching for a replacement start and gained entry into the Nicholls State-hosted LaTour Intercollegiate 300 miles south in Mathews, Louisiana.
Conditions still weren’t a walk in the par, with the 13-team field facing 45-degree weather the first round and winds of 15 to 20 mph. On Day 2, the wind chill never rose about 38 degrees and the wind blew at a steady 10 mph.
Louisiana Tech fired a 36-hole team total of 12 under and won by 18 shots. Senior Sam Murphy won the individual title, his first, by two shots with a 7-under total.
LA Tech golf wins the LaTour Intercollegiate by a dominating 18 strokes, while Sam Murphy earns the individual title with a combined -7 (69-68=137)! pic.twitter.com/mA0T16uOUI
— LA Tech Golf (@LATechGolf) February 14, 2021
“These guys were ready to play before we ever left Ruston,” head coach Matt Terry said. “They adapted really quick as we had to go to a different golf course that they’d never seen before in this kind of weather. We had one yardage book between all five of them and it didn’t bother them one bit.
“The biggest key was their attitudes were right before we ever left Ruston. They got here and they were ready to compete. It showed by how we played today. It never got above 38 degrees with the wind chill and they tied the school record.”
Genesis Invitational week begins with Collegiate Showcase
The PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational tees it up this week at Riviera Country Club, beginning with Monday’s Collegiate Showcase
The annual event is a chance for college players to play their way into the field. Meet the amateurs vying for their shot against the professionals
Tee times for tomorrow's Collegiate Showcase have been posted:
9 am – Alex Goff
9:12 am – Kyle Suppa
9:24 am – Angus Flanagan
9:36 am – Bryce Waters
9:48 am – Tim Widing
10 am – Kyle Petrovich
10:12 am – Callum Brucehttps://t.co/GGwXMbniXN https://t.co/wzrlAxkDQ7
— The Genesis Invitational (@thegenesisinv) February 15, 2021
New color, familiar vibe as UCF women contend at Moon Golf Invite
On Sundays – or at least on this Sunday – the UCF women wear pink. Given that head women’s golf coach Emily Marron has a little bit of superstition when it comes to uniforms, count on seeing UCF in that color again and again.
The Knights traded out their usual black and gold in honor of Valentine’s Day on Sunday for the opening round of the Moon Golf Invitational. There was a lot to love about UCF’s performance as the team went 6 under for 18 holes, landing right behind leader South Carolina (8 under). Winds howled at Duran Golf Club in Melbourne, Florida, on Sunday but UCF logged 18 team birdies (second only to South Carolina’s 20) and kept it in play. No Knight counted anything higher than bogey all day.
“It feels like home to us here,” said Marron, describing Duran as being very similar to Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, where she hosted the UCF Challenge two weeks ago.
Two years ago, UCF won the Moon Golf title, turning a one-shot co-lead into a nine-shot victory in the final round. When heavy rain wiped out all but five holes of a Saturday practice round, Marron and assistant coach Steve Sims came up with a solid game plan for the first round.
“Our three upperclassmen, two of them won here, so we said we’re going with the two freshman, you guys do your thing,” Marron said.
Back in the 2018-19 season, the Moon Golf title was one of two regular-season victories for UCF. The Knights advanced to the NCAA Women’s Championship that season for the first time since 1996. A year and a half later, four players remain from that squad and even though the tumult of COVID cancellations makes it seem like much more time has passed, the core is intact.
“We were an underdog that year,” Marron said. “Those four bonded together so tightly and they kind of taught our freshman that – the importance of playing as a team, playing for each other, that’s what it is. They get along so well. They play for each other and they just fight really hard.”
Florida men win home event for second consecutive year
The annual lesson at the Gator Invitational seems to be that Florida is hard to beat on its home turf, the tricky Mark Bostick Golf Club in Gainesville, Florida. The Gators played through rainy conditions and came up with a five-shot win over Georgia and Auburn on Saturday afternoon.
Florida finished 54 holes at 29 under, and went 15 under in the final round. That was the best team score of the day, with Alabama’s 10-under effort the next best.
A 21-team field was loaded with SEC talent, but Liberty logged the best finish of the non-conference teams. The Flames were 20 under and in solo fifth, between LSU at 21 under and Alabama in solo sixth at 17 under.
“To shoot 15-under and come back to win the title in those conditions while playing at home is so special,” head coach JC Deacon said. “I’m really happy and proud of our guys and they truly showed how great they can be today – 15-under on your home course in the final round is certainly a great accomplishment.”
Hope you were rooting for the home team
Your 2021 Gators Invitational Champions #GoGators pic.twitter.com/dSzdR8zcJZ
— Gators Golf (@GatorsGolf) February 13, 2021
Weather, not COVID-19, forces postponement of tournament
Well, we didn’t see this one coming.
On Thursday the University of Houston men’s golf team announced the postponement of its All-American Intercollegiate, scheduled for Feb. 14-16 at Golf Club of Houston. The reason? There’s a forecast for severe winter weather, with temperatures expected in the teens along with ice and a wintry mix of participation.
“We look forward to hosting the All-American Intercollegiate every year, and this was a difficult decision,” said Director of Golf Jonathan Dismuke. “For the safety and best interests of all the student-athletes and coaches traveling to the Houston area this weekend, we elected to postpone. We encourage everyone to slow down and be safe on the roads.”
Dismuke is working with the teams and the course to hopefully reschedule the event for March. Slated to play this weekend were the following schools: Baylor, Georgia State, Lamar, Louisiana, Louisville, New Mexico, New Mexico State, North Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Rice, Sam Houston State, Texas, Texas A&M, ULM, UT Arlington and UTSA.
Florida Gators Invitational features modified shot-gun start like we’ve never seen before
This took me and my co-worker Julie Williams a solid, engaged, laser-focused 45 seconds to figure out. Imagine trying to explain this in an afternoon practice-round coaches meeting.
We’ll leave it up to you to figure out what tee you need to be standing on at what time.
They invented @Gatorade and now @GatorsGolf are reinventing the way to do tee times/pairings due to weather forecast & course layout at the @gatorinv. #AnyGivenTuesday pic.twitter.com/f0xzSXf8aG
— Any Given Tuesday (@any_given_tues) February 12, 2021
A Camel legend grows in the Florida Panhandle
A few constants, at least, let us know that college golf is back to something like normal again. Two weeks ago, tournaments in Arizona were halted for snow. On Tuesday, the Lady Bison Bay Point Classic in the Florida Panhandle was reduced from 54 holes to 36 because of rain and thunderstorms.
Another constant of college golf? John Crooks keeps piling up the wins at Campbell.
The Camels competed as a team this week for the first time since March 2020 and at 35 over for two rounds at Bay Point Club in Panama City Beach, Florida, finished two shots ahead of Troy for the team title. That makes career victory No. 89 for Crooks, who has been at the helm of the Campbell golf teams since 1991.
According to Campbell research, only Duke’s Dan Brooks (137 since 1985) and the now-retired Mark Gale of San Jose State (91 from 1978-96) have more career coaching victories in NCAA Division I women’s golf history. The full list is below.
NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Career Coaching Wins
137 – Dan Brooks (1985-present), Duke
91 – Mark Gale (1978-1996), San Jose State
89 – John Crooks (1991-present), Campbell
81 – Dale McNamara (1974-2000), Tulsa
72 – Carrie Forsyth (1999-present), UCLA
Oklahoma State’s record-tying win
Oklahoma State’s Maja Stark led her team to a narrow two-shot win at the Heroes Ladies Intercollegiate at The Founders Club in Sarasota, Florida, on Tuesday, and tied a program record in the process.
The sophomore from Sweden claimed the individual title thanks to rounds of 66-66-69 to post a 15-under 201, matching the previous 54-hole school record set by teammate Isabella Fierro. Stark now has two wins in just six collegiate starts.
Trophy photos >>> Everything #GolfSchool | #GoPokes pic.twitter.com/ubqjr7N4zj
— OSU Cowgirl Golf (@OSUcowgirlgolf) February 9, 2021
The only teams to finish under par for the tournament, the Cowgirls finished at 15 under, two strokes clear of Ole Miss at 13 under. Georgia finished third at even par.
Teams and players of the week
Golfweek is bringing back weekly awards for college golf. Here’s who bagged the first honors of the spring semester:
- Women’s team of the week: Virginia
- Women’s player of the week: Karen Fredgaard, Houston
- Men’s team of the week: Indiana
- Men’s player of the week: David Puig, Arizona State
Ringler: Five things we learned in college golf this week
Make that two wins in six starts. Arizona State’s David Puig made it two in a row to start the season. This time the sophomore claimed victory at the Amer Ari Invitational in Hawaii. Puig, who opened the year with a victory at the Southwestern Invitational, finished the week in Hawaii with three sub-70 rounds for a 13-under total and a four-shot win. Puig has now won two college tournaments in six career starts.
Arizona State gets first win of the year. After a second-place finish at the Southwestern Invitational, the Sun Devils won the Amer Ari Invitational this past week by 12 shots over Southern California. This could be the first win of many this spring. Arizona State is scheduled to play eight more events before the Pac-12 Championship. The Sun Devils have been tabbed by many as the top team in college golf and are considered a favorite this year to win the NCAA title in their home state.
Big Ten men’s golf back in action with Indiana winning conference match-play event. The Hoosiers defeated Iowa with the all-too-familiar match-play score of 3-2 to win the conference match-play title for the first time since 2009. The event was played at the Hammock Beach Resort Ocean Course in Palm Coast, Fla. Harry Reynolds led Indiana with a 4-0 head-to-head record. The Hoosiers defeated Ohio State, Minnesota and Wisconsin to advance to the finals. Illinois and Michigan did not play.
Indiana fights back to defeat Iowa in the Big Ten Match Play Championship, their first title in the event since 2009. pic.twitter.com/9yAcSFN0DC
— Indiana Men's Golf (@IndianaMGolf) February 6, 2021
Virginia wins UCF Challenge. The ACC women are back in action and two of the best teams in the game went down to the final hole to decide a winner. Virginia came out one shot better than Wake Forest after coming back from an 11-shot deficit to start the day. Keep in mind that the last time we saw Virginia win in February 2020, the team made up nine shots in the final nine holes to do it.
Rankings starting to look better. The dots continue to connect with more teams playing golf for the first time in the 2020-21 season. As of right now, the Oklahoma men and Baylor women check in at No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings.
Arizona State sweeps Amer Ari
Arizona State brought their brooms to Hawaii this week for the Amer Ari Invitational.
On Wednesday, the Sun Devils defeated USC by a whopping 12 strokes to claim the team title at 37 under. Sophomore David Puig took the individual title at 13 under thanks to consistent rounds of 67-68-68. Only 15 players finished under par for the tournament, including all six Sun Devils.
Aloha. team and individual titles! #ForksUp pic.twitter.com/To7ZEmI9lz
— Sun Devil Men's Golf (@sundevilmgolf) February 5, 2021
A sneak peek at Grayhawk Golf Club, site of this year’s NCAA Championship
The NCAA Championship was supposed to start a three-year run at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, last year. A global pandemic prevented that, but a fortnight of championship golf is getting closer and closer to reality.
In anticipation of the national championship, Golfweek did a bit of reconnaissance on the way to this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. Take a look at these photos.
-Photos by Adam Schupak
Virginia women, North Florida men pick up early-season wins
Virginia overcame an 11-shot deficit in the final round while holding off Wake Forest down the stretch to win its season-opener at the UCF Challenge.
North Florida, led by freshman Nick Gabrelcik, passed yet another important test at the Sea Best Invitational. The Ospreys entered the final round with a lead and converted, sweeping the team and individual titles.
–Julie Williams, Garry Smits
Early entry for round of the year?
Arizona State’s Blake Wagoner fired an opening-round 9-under 63 thanks to 10 birdies and one bogey to take the early lead at the Amer Ari Invitational in Hawaii. The senior made six birdies in his first seven holes!
Wow. @blakewagoner7 joining this group with a 9-under 63 today. Some dudes on this list! https://t.co/s5tBCppSwQ pic.twitter.com/xdjmZeDoaM
— Doug Tammaro (@DougTammaro) February 3, 2021
Read more here.
Baylor’s Trinity Forest title extends winning streak to four
Baylor’s women have yet to take a loss this season. They extended their winning streak to four events on Tuesday with a 14-shot victory at the SMU-hosted Trinity Forest Invitational.
Not only has the team won every event it has entered, but a Baylor player has won the individual title each time, too. Gurleen Kaur won the first two fall events followed by Elodie Chapelet’s victory at the Cowgirl Classic in October. On Tuesday at Trinity Forest, Hannah Karg claimed the individual title at 16 under. Karg, a redshirt freshman from Germany who won a Women’s All Pro Tour event in December, had a field-best 16 birdies in 54 holes and at 5 under, was one shot ahead of Oklahoma State’s Maja Stark.
At 1 over for the week, Baylor was 13 ahead of runner-up Oklahoma State. Texas was third.
Pepperdine men will miss Amer Ari after positive COVID test
A year ago this time, back-to-back titles at the Southwestern Invitational and the Amer Ari in Hawaii sent Pepperdine to the top of the Golfweek/Sagarin college rankings. This spring has been a little different story.
Pepperdine struggled in the opening round of the Southwestern, but rallied for a fifth-place finish. Now, they’ll sit out of their second start after a positive COVID test derailed their travel to Hawaii.
The news was announced on the team’s Twitter account on Monday – that a member of the men’s golf program had tested positive for COVID-19 last week. An update a few hours later announced that it appeared to be a false positive, but that the team was still prevented from traveling and participating, per Los Angeles County Department of Health protocols.
Pepperdine, which played four events in the fall, is ranked No. 16 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
UPDATE #2 | It appears that the positive test result received by a men's golf team member was likely a false positive. However, L.A. County Department of Health protocols still prevented our participation in the Amer Ari Intercollegiate.#WavesUp https://t.co/nOeUXfRHkU
— Pepperdine Men’s Golf (@PeppGolf) February 2, 2021
An LPGA winner at the UCF Challenge? That would be Ally Ewing, Mississippi State’s new volunteer assistant.
When Mississippi State started its season at the UCF Challenge this week, it was with an LPGA winner riding shotgun in the team van. Ally Ewing came along to Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, Florida, with husband Charlie Ewing, the Bulldogs’ new head women’s golf coach. She’ll be the volunteer assistant coach this spring, and travel with the team when tournaments don’t conflict with the LPGA schedule.
Ewing was an All-American for Mississippi State from 2011-15, when she played as Ally McDonald. She set several program records and led the Bulldogs to back-to-back NCAA Championships. The program hosted The Ally this fall at Old Waverly Golf Club in her honor.
“It was a lot of fun today, just kind of being back around college golf,” Ewing said after Mississippi State fired an opening 2-under 286 on a breezy Florida day. “Being around the team this past week was a lot of fun, and just being back around Mississippi State, which I’ve been around with (Charlie) being around the men’s program.
“But just being back on the women’s side, it’s a lot of fun and I’m just hoping that – being the wife of the head coach is really cool – but obviously getting to know these girls and seeing them do well on and off the golf course is the ultimate goal.”
Ewing said she hopes the team feels comfortable enough around her. They’ve already started asking questions and picking her brain.
Mississippi State finished a shortened 2019-20 season ranked No. 22 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. Sophomore Ashley Gilliam, who finished last season ranked No. 28 individually, will compete at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur this spring.
“I may get out to one other tournament this semester for them,” Ewing said of how she expects the rest of the spring to shake out, “but I’ll definitely be around practice and stuff all year.”
ODU women out of UCF Challenge with COVID setback; UC Santa Barbara men in holding pattern
The toughest COVID setbacks to take may be the ones that come closest to an event. Old Dominion University opted out of athletic competition in the fall, putting the Monarch women’s golf team in the same boat as dozens of other teams that haven’t competed since last March.
As the season-opening UCF Challenge crept closer, ODU was prepared to compete – until COVID contact tracing extended the break. A player tested positive who wasn’t slated to travel to Orlando this week and contract-tracing protocols meant the rest of the team would have to sit out, too.
“The whole travel party had tested negative but they said that because we were in our team van all together two days prior, that that was a part of the contact tracing,” said head coach Mallory Hetzel. “So everyone that was in the van was ruled out, not only for the event but then everybody had to go in a 10-day quarantine.”
Hetzel was not in the van which allowed her to travel to the UCF Challenge with junior Jana Melichova, who is playing as an individual.
“Jana was able to come because she just got over it and she has the antibodies and is actually exempt from testing for 150 days, according to Conference USA,” Hetzel explained.
Jana Melichova wraps up the first round of the UCF Challenge recording a 76 (+4) and sits T-71.
She’ll tee off tomorrow at 9:50 AM in round 2⃣#ODUSports | #ReignOn
— ODU Women's Golf (@ODUWGolf) January 31, 2021
ODU was the only program in what was originally an 18-team UCF Challenge field to withdraw because of COVID. Hetzel hopes her team can put it behind them. Their next tournament is scheduled for March 9-10 in San Antonio, Texas.
“They came here to compete and it’s been taken away from them now for almost a year,” she said of her student-athletes. “To be 24 hours from leaving, to have it taken away was maybe the biggest punch in the gut yet.”
Other teams are likely to face this scenario as the season goes forward. UCLA’s men already pulled out of their season-opening event, last week’s Southwestern Invitational, with a similar situation. Roughly 70 miles up the California coast, UC Santa Barbara men’s golf coach Steve Lass is carrying an abnormally large squad of 14 players. He’s had five positive tests within his team, which exceeds the percentage of positive tests the university allows before temporarily shutting down a team’s practices and competition.
That leaves Lass and his men in a holding pattern.
“For our guys, I can’t speak for other teams but I’m sure it’s the same, it certainly isn’t the normal college athletic experience,” Lass said. “It’s just unfortunate, it’s difficult.”
Ringler: Five things we learned in college golf’s opening week
The buzz is back, right? Sure, teams were playing college golf last fall, but it did not feel like it was really happening. Now, most of the country has a plan to play golf this spring and here we go.
What did I learn this past week?
San Diego State may be really good. The Aztecs were a top-30 team a year ago and head coach Ryan Donovan’s squad was positioned to try and snap a three-year slide of missing the NCAA Championship. The pandemic ended the season and the Aztecs’ chance to return to the finals. Now, with a season-opening victory at the Southwestern Invitational, where the Aztecs chased down one of the top teams in the country in Arizona State, we may be seeing a team that has kept the momentum and can be a factor later this spring and return to the finals for the first time since 2016.
“Why not us?”@AztecMGolf head coach Ryan Donovan after season-opening win at Southwestern Invitational. @BradMoorhead you will like this! pic.twitter.com/xUOfuKuue7
— Lance Ringler (@GolfweekRingler) January 27, 2021
Once again, Liberty is a top mid-major in college golf. The Flames lost on the second playoff hole to Florida at the Timuquana Collegiate, finishing ahead of several Power 5 teams including Virginia, Oklahoma State, Florida State and Notre Dame. When the season was stopped last year, the Flames were No. 30 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
David Puig is now near the top of the Player of the Year watch list. The Arizona State sophomore from La Garriga, Spain, won the individual title by nine shots at the Southwestern Invitational with rounds of 70-66-70 for a 10-under total. It was Puig’s first collegiate victory in only his fifth start.
Keep an eye on Arizona. After a very close loss in the Copper Cup, a match play duel vs. state rival Arizona State, the Wildcats hung on to win their own Arizona Intercollegiate earlier this week, taking a 10-shot lead into the final round and coming away with a six-shot victory over Wake Forest. Winning this event is nothing new for the Wildcats. They have won the last four Arizona Intercollegiate titles, but signs of the Wildcats’ return to the upper tiers of the sport have been there in recent years. Individually, Arizona senior Brad Reeves claimed his first collegiate title.
Four-peat Champion coaches get a nice photo session and….@ArizonaMGolf @Anderson_Jimbo @ChrisNallen #BearDown pic.twitter.com/6TW1HF3KYc
— Andy Wada (@AndyWadaGC) January 28, 2021
The stories this spring are going to be good. A player who spent the fall selling cigars came back to college golf to help his team win the Any Given Tuesday Intercollegiate.
Who are these guys?
There’s a new venture in college golf, and it’s lightening the mood. After all of college golf was canceled last March because of the pandemic, Charleston Southern head coach Jason Payne and High Point head coach Brady Gregor launched the Any Given Tuesday platform. Payne and Gregor run pretty hilarious social-media accounts under that name, with plenty of college golf-themed inside jokes, and also have a podcast. This past week, they hosted the first Any Given Tuesday Intercollegiate.
Read more about their story here.
Safe to say the Van Drivers and Passengers are pumped that college golf is back. #AnyGivenTuesday pic.twitter.com/51tFNWKaQ4
— Any Given Tuesday (@any_given_tues) January 23, 2021