College midseason report: Grades, top players, superlatives
We’ve reached the midway point of the college golf season. Here’s a look at what has happened so far in both the men’s and women’s games, as well as grades, midseason awards and more superlatives from the fall:
Grading the preseason top 10
Texas | Preseason rank: 1 | Current rank: 25 | Grade: D
Aside from an East Lake Cup victory, Texas failed to live up to expectations this fall. But it’s important to note that the Longhorns were rarely at full strength and are still poised to make noise this spring.
Arizona State | Preseason rank: 2 | Current rank: 9 | Grade: B-
The Sun Devils looked great at the Maui Jim, not so great at Notre Dame and just OK at Tavistock. But they are still the NCAA hosts and loaded with talent.
Pepperdine | Preseason rank: 3 | Current rank: 7 | Grade: B
The sexy NCAA title pick looked good in the fall, especially freshman William Mouw and senior Sahith Theegala, who redshirted last year because of a wrist injury.
Georgia Tech | Preseason rank: 4 | Current rank: 3 | Grade: B+
The Yellow Jackets won twice in the fall but then finished 10th at their home event at the Golf Club of Georgia.
Oklahoma | Preseason rank: 5 | Current rank: 2 | Grade: A
Twice winners in the fall, the Sooners remain one of the deepest squads in the country.
Wake Forest | Preseason rank: 6 | Current rank: 6 | Grade: B+
Even with Alex Fitzpatrick not firing on all cylinders, Wake has gotten contributions from across the board, winning once and placing second twice.
Auburn | Preseason rank: 7 | Current rank: 24 | Grade: C
The fall-ending win at Kiawah, though against a weak field, was much needed after a disappointing fall.
Illinois | Preseason rank: 8 | Current rank: 45 | Grade: D
So far, Mike Small has yet to put all of his pieces together, but if anyone can with this bunch it’s Small.
Georgia | Preseason rank: 9 | Current rank: 20 | Grade: B-
Trent Phillips’ victory in Hawaii to end the fall was big for the Bulldogs, who won twice this fall.
Vanderbilt | Preseason rank: 10 | Current rank: 23 | Grade: B-
As expected, senior John Augenstein has been strong, but the Commodores have yet to get anyone else going consistently.
USC | Preseason rank: 1 | Current rank: 5 | Grade: B+
The Trojans won’t have Jennifer Chang anymore thanks to the junior’s Q-Series performance, but still plenty of firepower left in Los Angeles. After winless fall, nowhere to go but up.
Stanford | Preseason rank: 2 | Current rank: 2 | Grade: A
Freshman Angelina Ye has stepped up for Cardinal, which were without seniors Andrea Lee and Albane Valenzuela for much of the fall – and could be this spring, as well, with Valenzuela announcing Tuesday night that she’s turning pro and Lee still undecided.
Texas | Preseason rank: 3 | Current rank: 1 | Grade: A
Longhorns won three times in the fall, as Kaitlyn Papp played like a first-team All-American and freshman Sophie Guo acclimated immediately, more than making up for the injured Agathe Laisne.
Duke | Preseason rank: 4 | Current rank: 12 | Grade: C
The reigning national champs have been slow to start and have no players ranked in the top 20 right now.
Florida | Preseason rank: 5 | Current rank: 9 | Grade: B
The Gators had a solid fall that included one win, but they’ll have to overcome the loss of senior Sierra Brooks, who is turning pro.
Florida State | Preseason rank: 6 | Current rank: 27 | Grade: C-
Like their in-state rivals, the Seminoles are having to replace their best player this spring. Without Frida Kinhult, Florida State will need more from Amanda Doherty and company.
Arizona State | Preseason rank: 7 | Current rank: 3 | Grade: A
Freshman Linn Grant has been stellar for the Sun Devils, who are still looking for Olivia Mehaffey at top form as the senior continues to fully recover from a summer wrist injury.
Auburn | Preseason rank: 8 | Current rank: 31 | Grade: D+
The Tigers got into the East Lake Cup final, but it’s been a tough fall highlighted by injuries and mistakes.
Wake Forest | Preseason rank: 9 | Current rank: 4 | Grade: A
Freshmen Rachel Kuehn and Lauren Walsh have been instrumental in Wake’s three-win fall. Life after Jennifer Kupcho isn’t so bad after all.
South Carolina | Preseason rank: 10 | Current rank: 7 | Grade: B+
Led by freshman Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, the Gamecocks have emerged as the SEC favorites at the halfway point.
Player of the year front-runner
Peter Kuest, Sr., BYU
Ranked third by Golfstat, Kuest won three times in the fall, most recently at the St. Mary’s Invitational, and has yet to finish outside the top 10 in five starts for the fourth-ranked Cougars.
Angelina Ye, Fr., Stanford
Sitting stop the Golfstat rankings, Ye won Stanford’s home event after opening her college career with a runner-up at the Molly. Most recently was T-13 at the Pac-12 Preview.
Midseason first-team All-Americans
- John Augenstein, Sr., Vanderbilt (2)
- Peter Kuest, Sr., BYU (3)
- Adrien Pendaries, Jr., Duke (1)
- Garett Reband, Sr., Oklahoma (14)
- Davis Thompson, Jr., Georgia (19)
- Linn Grant, Fr., Arizona State (4)
- Vivian Hou, Fr., Arizona (11)
- Pimnipa Panthong, Sr., Kent State (7)
- Kaitlyn Papp, Jr., Texas (5)
- Angelina Ye, Fr., Stanford (1)
New team to beat: Texas Tech. Arizona State and Texas will be there at the end, but don’t sleep on the Red Raiders, who won three times this fall and are led by senior Sandy Scott, freshman stud Ludvig Aberg and emergent juniors Kyle Hogan and Andy Lopez.
Biggest surprise: Notre Dame. A school-record four wins in the fall and it appears that John Handrigan’s team is just getting started.
Most disappointing: Texas. A fall-ending victory at the four-team East Lake Cup doesn’t change much; the Longhorns still need to get a lot better if they want to realize their massive potential and win it all this May.
Newcomer of the fall: William Mouw. The Pepperdine freshman is ranked 17th in Golfstat, tops on what is a deep and legit NCAA title contender.
Best team performance: UCF, 22-under 842, Tavistock Collegiate. In one of the toughest events of the fall, the Knights led wire-to-wire and won by 16 shots over LSU, topping a field that also included Texas, Arizona State and Texas Tech.
Best individual performance: Parker Gillam, 12-under 60, Round 1, White Sands Intercollegiate. The Wake Forest junior joined the short list of players to shoot 60, one that also includes Paul Casey and Bryce Molder, and went on to win in the Bahamas by three shots. Making the feat even better was the fact that Gillam was playing as an individual.
Most exciting finish: William H. Tucker Intercollegiate. After New Mexico and BYU finished 54 holes tied at 10 under, both teams played a five-count-four, sudden-death tiebreaker to determine the winner. The Lobos got birdies from all five players to edge the Cougars, though as we know, both teams will still get to count the win in their official record books.
Longest playoff: Keeping in the them with playoffs that don’t really count, Georgia sophomore Trent Phillips and Oklahoma senior Quade Cummins went seven playoff holes at the Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic before Phillips won with birdie. Cummins had quite the day anyway, posting a final-round 62 to earn a shared victory at Royal Ka’anapali Golf Club, which will host Golf Advisor’s Round Trip Getaway on Dec. 1-7.
Most feel-good story: Justin Thompson. The SMU junior and two-time cancer survivor has been one of the Mustangs’ biggest contributors this fall, currently ranked 12th in Golfstat.
Paying the most attention to the .500 rule: Florida. For the second straight season, the Gators, ranked 38th but 23-33 overall, have their eyes on the .500 rule. Luckily, there is plenty of talent, most notably freshman Ricky Castillo, to make sure Florida qualifies for the postseason.
This year’s All-Name inductee: Mark Power. Surely, no one man should have all that power, but the Wake Forest freshman has had quite the fall, highlighted by an individual victory at the spring that was the East Lake Cup, and joins the likes of Jack Sparrow and Angus Flanagan on this exclusive team.
New team to beat: Texas. The Longhorns were one of only two preseason top-6 teams to be spared an early departure because of Q-Series and will enter the spring atop the rankings.
Biggest surprise: Alabama. The Crimson Tide looked like the team to beat early last season before losing their top two players to the LPGA midseason and struggling mightily the rest of the way. Now, Alabama finds itself back in the national conversation at No. 10 in Golfstat’s rankings.
Most disappointing: Auburn. A national semifinalist a year ago, the Tigers are banged up (junior Julie McCarthy missed much of the fall with a wrist issue), but they also ended the fall winless and ranked 31st in Golfstat.
Newcomer of the fall: Angelina Ye, Stanford. Ye gets the edge over a star-studded freshmen crop that includes seven other top-15-ranked players.
Best team performance: Wake Forest, 17-under 847, Annika Intercollegiate. Against arguably the best field of the regular season, the Demon Deacons won by 14 shots and freshman Rachel Kuehn took the individual title in her very first college start.
Best individual performance: Julia Johnson, final round, Battle of the Beach. The Ole Miss junior finished off her third career college victory with an 11-under 61, becoming the fourth player in women’s golf to shoot 61.
Most exciting finish: Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invite. Trailing Kent State by eight shots entering the final round, Texas shot 15 under to win by two shots. Kaitlyn Papp, Sophie Guo and Sara Kouskova combined to make 19 birdies and an eagle in the final round.
Most feel-good story: Kent State. Despite the loss of their coach Greg Robertson to Oklahoma State, the Golden Flashes won three times in the fall and will enter the spring ranked sixth in the nation.
Best sibling duo: Yusang and Vivian Hou, Arizona. The Wildcat sisters are ranked eighth and 11th in the country, respectively. No other sister act comes close.
Biggest void: Frida Kinhult, Florida State. USC has plenty of talent to overcome Jennifer Chang turning pro. Florida’s supporting cast performed solidly in Sierra Brooks’ absence this fall. But Kinhult, who nearly won the Annika Award last year, leaves a massive hole in Amy Bond’s lineup. Of course, if Stanford loses both of its stars, that will be an even bigger void.