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College Adviser: No Publinx, no problem

Laurel Hill
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The U.S. Amateur Public Links will not be played after 2014, which has created considerable consternation amongst a golf community that likely doesn’t know who played in last year’s men’s final. (Answer: T.J. Vogel over Kevin Aylwin, in a rout.)

Bad p.r. or not, the USGA correctly determined that the Publinx no longer served its original purpose, which was to offer a landing spot for golfers who were not members of USGA clubs. That changed in 1979.

And so, too, has the amateur landscape.

In recent years the Publinx has been dominated by college players, many of whom have gone on to successful pro careers, while others simply became a useless bit of trivia for dimpleheads. Since 2000, only four men (Brad Benjamin, Colt Knost, Casey Watabu, Brandt Snedeker) have won the event while not still enrolled in college – and those players had graduated only a few months prior. 

The truth is, the Publinx had become just another big-time amateur event in a summer full of them.

In a three-month span, elite amateurs can pick and choose their schedule with such premier events as the Western Amateur, Sunnehanna Amateur, Northeast Amateur, Porter Cup, Sahalee Players, Dogwood Invitational and Pacific Northwest Amateur.

In this crowded landscape, the Publinx’s demise simply makes the U.S. Amateur that much more prestigious. At least the casual fan has a chance of remembering those winners.

Here’s what else happened this week on campus:

• As predicted here, the Amer Ari Invitational came down to a playoff between top-10 teams UCLA and Washington, with the Bruins prevailing in sudden death for their second team title of the season. Auburn senior Dominic Bozzelli captured medalist honors, finishing at 11-under 205 for the All-American’s third career individual title.

• On Sunday, Florida State and sophomore Daniel Berger rolled into rival Gainesville and captured the SunTrust Gator Invitational for the first time since 1981. The Seminoles won by 15 shots at Mark Bostick Golf Course, with host Florida finishing in fourth, 19 shots behind. The Gators struggled with reigning Publinx winner T.J. Vogel (sports hernia) and Tyler McCumber (flu-like symptoms) still on the mend.

• Iowa State’s Scott Fernandez, ranked 10th in the nation by Golfstat, tied for third at this week’s UTSA Invitational. The sophomore has now finished in the top 3 in each of the four tournaments he has played this season. 

• Washington sophomore Cheng-Tsung Pan remains the No. 1 player in Golfstat’s individual rankings, followed by UCLA senior Pontus Widegren, Cal sophomore Michael Kim, Washington junior Trevor Simsby and Kent State junior Corey Conners. Alabama sophomore Justin Thomas, the reigning NCAA Player of the Year, is ninth.

Here are the top 10 men’s teams in the country, as ranked by Golfstat (click here for the full rankings): 

1. California: The Golden Bears, who won their first five events of the season, make their next start at the Feb. 20-22 John Burns Intercollegiate.

2. UCLA: The Bruins jumped from fourth to second after their most impressive performance to date, a playoff victory over Washington at the Amer Ari Invitational, which boasted seven of the top 15 (and nine of the top 25) teams in the country. Senior Pontus Widegren led UCLA with a T-4 finish.

3. Texas: The Longhorns dropped a spot in the rankings after a fourth-place showing in Hawaii, but should be encouraged by the T-4s posted by Cody Gribble and freshman Brandon Stone. 

4. Washington: Rose three spots in the rankings, even though the Huskies didn’t get the win at the Amer Ari. Washington had three players in the top 10, led by Trevor Simsby’s T-2, and world No. 1 amateur Chris Williams finished in a share of 20th.

5. New Mexico: The Lobos, who won their spring opener in Arizona, return to action at next week’s John Burns Intercollegiate.

6. Alabama: The Crimson Tide’s spring season gets under way Sunday, at the Puerto Rico Classic.

7. Florida: The Gators suffered the biggest fall of the week after a disappointing fourth-place finish at their home tournament, after which head coach Buddy Alexander sighed, “We didn’t have anything this week.' 

8. Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets held tight in the standings despite a mediocre performance in Hawaii, where only one player, Anders Albertson (T-10), finished in the top 10. 

9. Georgia: The Bulldogs leapfrogged USC without hitting a shot. They begin their spring season Sunday at the Puerto Rico Classic. 

10. USC: The Trojans rallied after a dismal first day at the Amer Ari to finish in a tie for fourth there. Anthony Paolucci led USC with a T-10 finish individually.