College Review: Power Rankings, fall superlatives

By Ryan LavnerNovember 20, 2014, 6:05 pm

Each week on, we’ll review the main storylines in college golf.

After more than nine months of nonstop golf, after the spring season and the NCAA postseason and the summer amateur schedule and the start of the fall semester, the best players in college golf finally get a 2 ½-month reprieve.

How to spend their much-needed downtime? Well, they will cram for finals, and then spend time with their families, and then, eventually, continue to work on their games. The season doesn’t resume until late January, when each week will be an important step toward the NCAA Championship.  

Now that the fall season is over, here are some midseason awards and the top 10 men's teams in my Power Rankings:

Team of the fall: Oregon 

The Ducks are off to their best start in school history, after winning all four of their fall starts. Their schedule was the 38th toughest, weakest of any top-10 team (per the Sagarin rankings), but they did record an eye-opening win at Colonial that was against one of the top fields of the fall. Freshman Aaron Wise and sophomore Thomas Lim have been terrific so far. 

Honorable mention: Florida State, Illinois, UCLA 

Player of the fall: Ollie Schniederjans, Georgia Tech

Surprise, surprise: The No. 1-ranked amateur in the world continued to play like it this fall, with a victory, a pair of runners-up and no finish worse than sixth in five starts. He finished the fall with a 68.07 scoring average. Expect even better results in his final semester.

Honorable mention: Hunter Stewart, Vanderbilt; Maverick McNealy, Stanford

Biggest surprise of the fall: LSU

Senior All-Americans Ben Taylor and Stewart Jolly have been as good as advertised, helping the Tigers to back-to-back wins. The Tigers finished third in their toughest event (the U.S. Collegiate), which is a promising sign, for their schedule will only get more difficult. 

Biggest disappointment: Oklahoma State

A victory at Royal Oaks helped salvage a miserable fall for the Cowboys, who twice finished outside the top 8 in an event as they tried to break in new players. Jordan Niebrugge is back from injury, but Wyndham Clark and Zachary Olsen haven’t yet been able to recapture their form from 2013-14. Fortunately for them, the season is only just beginning. 

Team most likely to rise: Wake Forest

You have to what Jerry Haas has brewing in Winston-Salem. Will Zalatoris, the 2014 U.S. Junior champion, has stepped in and contributed right away, while Danny Guise and David Womble continue to play solidly. This is a team that will contend for titles not just this year, but for the foreseeable future. 

Team most likely to fall: Alabama 

There likely won’t be a three-peat this year for the Crimson Tide. They can still be very competitive with Robby Shelton and Tom Lovelady at the top, but the midseason departure of Gavin Moynihan in the middle of the lineup means ’Bama will have a lot of fresh faces competing against the top teams on the biggest stages. Usually, that spells trouble.

Power Rankings

1. Illinois: From top to bottom, the Illini have the best (and deepest) team in the game.

2. Oregon: Will be interesting to see how they fare against better competition, but the Ducks can only beat the teams they have in front of them – and right now, they’re 44-0-2.

3. Florida State: They lost to only two teams during the fall, and they just so happen to be the host schools (Illinois, Alabama). This team won’t fade.

4. Texas: Figured it would take time to establish a starting five, but the U.S. Collegiate win shows this team’s immense potential.

5. UCLA: Their three fall wins weren’t a fluke – behind Jonathan Garrick, Lorens Chan and a strong supporting cast, this team has title aspirations.

6. LSU: Ben Taylor and Stewart Jolly can send this team into the postseason, but back-end depth remains a question.

7. Vanderbilt: The ’Dores have the best 1-2 punch in the country in Hunter Stewart and Carson Jacobs, and with Matthias Schwab on the mend this group will only get better.

8. South Carolina: The team that returned all five starters has quietly picked up two wins in the fall.

9. Georgia Tech: It helps to have the best player in college golf on the roster, but the Yellow Jackets will only go as far as Nos. 2-5 can take them.

10. Virginia: With the emergence of Derek Bard, the Cavs are poised to take advantage of Denny McCarthy’s last season in Charlottesville. 

Getty Images

Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.