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College golf notebook: PGA Tour U shakeup as big names opt out; magic numbers?

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During the college golf season, will check in weekly to update what’s happening in the world of college golf.

Noah Goodwin has been rocketing up the PGA Tour University rankings over the past few weeks, but the SMU senior has taken his name out of the hat for this year’s inaugural class and intends to return to school for an extra year.

Goodwin was one of five players in the top 20 of last week’s rankings to opt out by the early April deadline, joining Texas Tech’s Sandy Scott (sixth), UCLA’s Devon Bling (12th), Marquette’s Hunter Eichhorn (17th) and Texas Tech’s Kyle Hogan (18th). Per rules of the program, players who don’t re-classify and finish this season inside the top 15 are not eligible to participate in the program the following season, even if they have remaining college eligibility because of the pandemic.

“PGA Tour U is offering an incredible opportunity,” Goodwin told on Wednesday. “But ultimately, I’ve always wanted to come back for that extra year; I’ve always wanted to be able to walk with Ben [Wong], Ollie [Osborne] and Tyson [Dinsmore] and play for that last national championship. … With everything that’s gone on with COVID and everything, I wanted that extra shot with my team. I guess I just wasn’t quite ready to put up the uniform.”

Goodwin, who arrived in Dallas a semester early a few years ago, has 13 credit hours left in his degree program. He plans to fulfill the NCAA minimum with 12 hours in the fall before taking one class next spring.

“It’ll give me time to do what I need to do to focus on golf and prepare for the next stage of my career,” said Goodwin, who was seventh in last week’s PGA Tour U rankings but figures to have a better shot at making the top five next season and earn that coveted Korn Ferry Tour card.

“I don’t feel like I’m in a rush.”

Scott, who hasn't played this spring because of a wrist injury, withdrew Wednesday morning from next month's Walker Cup and was replaced by Jack Dyer. Florida freshman Joe Pagdin was then bumped up to second alternate.

Here is the newest top 15 in PGA Tour U:

  • 1. John Pak, Florida State
  • 2. Garett Reband, Oklahoma
  • 3. Davis Thompson, Georgia
  • 4. Chun An Yu, Arizona State
  • 5. Austin Eckroat, Oklahoma State
  • 6. McClure Meissner, SMU
  • 7. Trevor Werbylo, Arizona
  • 8. Quade Cummins, Oklahoma
  • 9. Angus Flanagan, Minnesota
  • 10. Michael Feagles, Illinois
  • 11. Benjamin Shipp, N.C. State
  • 12. Jovan Rebula, Auburn
  • 13. Cooper Dossey, Baylor
  • 14. Jonathan Brightwell, Oklahoma
  • 15. Alex Schaake, Iowa

For full ranking, click here.

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A new world No. 1

Many players, professional and amateur, have turned around their putting my switching to the arm-lock method. Texas junior Pierceson Coody, though, has improved by going away from it.

After nearly two years of using an arm-lock putter, Coody credits the move to a short, counterbalanced flatstick as one of the main reasons for his stellar play this spring. Coody’s runner-up finish Sunday at the Aggie Invitational was his fourth straight top-3 showing. He also won the George Hannon Collegiate last month at the Longhorns’ home course to kick off the recent run.

“This is probably the most consistent I’ve played,” Coody said Monday, two days before he moved to No. 1 in the latest World Amateur Golf Ranking. “The short putter has just been super consistent for me, and it’s been strange, you know, I don’t feel like I’ve hit it amazing; I just have driven it well and putted well and the other parts of my game have just not been bad. But it’s been a good stretch for sure.”

Coody has six finishes of T-7 or better this season, numbers that put him in the conversation for the Haskins Award, given to the player of the year in men’s college golf. Texas, meanwhile, is starting to gain momentum and is ranked fifth by Golfstat. The Longhorns finished fourth or worse in four of their first six events this season, a stretch capped by a seventh at the Cabo Collegiate. However, the reigning national runners-up (Texas lost to Stanford in the 2019 NCAA final) won their home event and nearly added another victory at Texas A&M’s event before the Aggies rallied on the final day.

Coody, a resurgent Cole Hammer and the emergence of sophomore Mason Nome have fueled the Longhorns in recent starts, and while Coody’s twin, Parker, has struggled this spring, Pierceson Coody believes his brother “is going to come out of this in no time.” And then there’s still uber-talented Travis Vick and a few others, mainly Christoffer Bring and Hunter Ostrom, who have the ability to contribute down the stretch.

“I really like the place we’re in,” Pierceson Coody said. “We’ve been fighting an uphill battle trying to build momentum and we’ve been struggling to create opportunities, but we’re finally starting to do that. We’re still slightly younger, but we still have so much experience from our freshman year and the adversity we had last year. … I know that when it really counts, we’ll be there.”

FGCU Athletics

Fun with numbers

With conference championships beginning, it’s time to start thinking about the postseason. James Madison edged College of Charleston for the Colonial Athletic Association title on Tuesday to earn the first automatic women’s regional bid. There are 25 more automatic qualifiers left to be determined, which means that the current magic number to make the 72-team regional pool is 61.

That number includes No. 55 Ohio State being ineligible for postseason play. Old Dominion is the team that is currently on the number.

On the men’s side, the magic number is 66, which is where Florida Gulf Coast sits after the Eagles’ home win on Tuesday at Old Corkscrew. Florida Gulf Coast (pictured above) was outside the top 150 when head coach Andrew Danna took over two falls ago.

There are some notable teams outside the number right now, including No. 68 Kentucky, No. 75 Northwestern, No. 80 UNLV, No. 83 Iowa State, No. 87 Colorado State, No. 100 Cal and No. 102 UCLA. The Rebels hold the NCAA active record for most consecutive regional appearances with 31. The Bruins had to pull out of this week’s Western Intercollegiate because of COVID-19 protocols, the second time that’s happened this spring.

Why a 62-year-old woman joined a college golf team

Why a 62-year-old woman joined a college golf team

Sam Bennett
TAMU Athletics

Bennett's wild run

It’s been a wild five weeks for Sam Bennett.

During this current span, the Texas A&M junior has played four college events and also made his PGA Tour debut. No wonder Bennett didn’t wake up until 3 p.m. on Monday.

“I think I may clean my room or something,” he said after finally getting his day started, noting that he needed to recharge before the Aggies’ next event, the SEC Championship, which begins next Wednesday at Sea Island.

It’s hard to blame Bennett. He deserves the rest, but also the trophies are piling up in his room. In his last four college starts, Bennett has won three times, including most recently on Sunday at the Aggie Invitational, where he led Texas A&M to a come-from-behind win over Oklahoma and Texas.

Between his last two victories, Bennett teed it up at the Valero Texas Open, which he earned a spot in after winning the Cabo Collegiate last month. He missed the cut as he battled nerves in his Tour debut, but he added that his recent run has boosted his confidence to an unprecedented level.

Entering the Aggie, Bennett told his brother, “There’s no way I’m losing this tournament.” He didn’t, holding off Texas’ Pierceson Coody, the new No. 1-ranked amateur in the world who has now finished in the top 3 in four straight events.

“I used to be satisfied going into a college tournament, getting top 10 or top 20, but once I got that win in San Antonio, I was like, ‘I belong,’” Bennett said. “Had one bad week (T-30 in Auburn’s event last month, though it still led his team), but now it’s a new mindset when I tee it up. I feel like I’m one of the best players in college golf and I should be winning.”

As for Texas A&M, it’ll enter SECs as the 11th-ranked team in Golfstat, just behind SEC leader Georgia at No. 10. Other than an 11th-place showing in Auburn, the Aggies have won twice and not finished worse than third this spring.

Said Bennett: “We know how good we are and how good we can be.”