NCAA men’s golf preseason rankings: Top 30 teams, players for 2023-24
As we prepare to get another season of college golf rolling, Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine reveals his top 30 men’s preseason rankings, both team and individual, and tells you everything you need to know about the best programs in the country, from projected starting lineups to preseason All-Americans (scroll to the bottom) to what’s motivating each team heading into the fall.
But first, take note of these important dates:
• May 13-15, 2024: NCAA regionals
(Host sites: University of Texas GC, Austin, Texas; University Club, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; UNC Finley GC, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; The Farms GC, Rancho Santa Fe, California; Stanford GC, Stanford, California; Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, West Lafayette, Indiana)
• May 24-29, 2024: NCAA Championship
Omni La Costa Resort and Spa (Champions), Carlsbad, California
And for the women’s top 30 teams and players, click here.
Now, without further ado, let’s get into the big rankings reveal:
1. North Carolina
Final 2022-23 rank: 3
2023 NCAA Championship finish: Semifinalist (won stroke play)
Top returners: David Ford (Jr.), Austin Greaser (Gr.), Dylan Menante (Gr.), Peter Fountain (Sr.), Ryan Smith (Jr.), Kenan Poole (Gr.), Hampton Roberts (Fr.)
Key departures: Ryan Burnett
Arriving: Maxwell Ford (Jr., transferred from Georgia)
Projected starting lineup: D. Ford, Greaser, Menante, M. Ford, Fountain
Scouting report: One big-time transfer nearly got the Tar Heels to the NCAA final last spring. Perhaps a second one this year will be the final piece to the NCAA Championship puzzle for this squad, which has qualified for match play at nationals three straight seasons, including advancing to the semifinals last May at Grayhawk. A season after adding Menante from Pepperdine, head coach Andrew DiBitetto again tapped into the portal this summer and plucked the other Ford twin from Georgia. Maxwell Ford, who will have to replace Burnett and his two wins from last season, is nearly a top-50 amateur in the world and is coming off making the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur. He links up with his brother David Ford, a first-team All-American with a team-leading eight top-10s as a sophomore. Greaser’s decision to return for a fifth year was surprising, and despite being hampered by a left-hand injury for much of the past year, he didn’t need surgery (a last-minute MRI scrapped a procedure scheduled for Monday after the Palmer Cup) and looked much healthier at the U.S. Amateur, where he won a match. If there are no setbacks, Greaser is a potential first-team All-American. Menante (seven top-10s as a senior) gives this squad three current Walker Cuppers, and Fountain had an inconsistent junior year, though his T-3 at the Southern Amateur was a sign of what he can do; remember he was a first-team All-American as a freshman. “It is so much fun coming to ‘work’ every day because I’m just surrounded by a great group of guys,” DiBitetto said. “They all have extremely different personalities. You connect with each one of them differently, coach each one of them differently, but the common denominator for all of them is they love the game, they love competition, and they love the pursuit of getting better.” With a loaded lineup, DiBitetto expects to be without a star or two periodically throughout the season because of professional or national team opportunities, but unlike last year, he has a few options to fill any gaps, including two players who redshirted last season – Roberts, a beast in the weight room, and Smith, a former top-10 recruit out of California.
Final 2022-23 rank: 1
2023 NCAA Championship finish: T-11
Top returners: Gordon Sargent (Jr.), Cole Sherwood (Sr.), William Moll (Gr.), Jackson Van Paris (Jr.), Matthew Riedel (Gr.), Wells Williams (Soph.)
Key departures: Reid Davenport, Jansen Preston (transferred to Kentucky)
Arriving: Rowan Sullivan (Fr.), Chase Nevins (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Sargent, Sherwood, Moll, Van Paris, Riedel
Scouting report: Despite winning six times and finishing the year ranked No. 1, the Commodores wouldn’t exactly consider last season a roaring success – and a large part of that is the way they played at the NCAA Championship, where they sat T-8 with 10 holes to play before combining to shoot 9 over on Grayhawk’s 18th hole and then collapsing over their final nine. “We fell apart, there ain’t any other way to say it,” Vandy head coach Scott Limbaugh said. “And a lot of that’s my fault, the way it ended.” Several factors contributed to the poor showing at nationals – an off week by Sargent’s standards (his T-40 was his only non-top-7 of the season), a lot of individual distractions, and an inability to keep it all together under pressure. “There aren’t a lot of days that have gone by that I haven’t thought about it,” Limbaugh added. “But you don’t waste your failures; you gotta learn from ‘em.” Texas, of course, wrote the most recent playbook a couple years ago, when the Longhorns bounced back from laying an egg at Grayhawk to lift the NCAA title the following season. It certainly helps Vandy’s prospects that Sargent is still around – and maybe for an additional year as his PGA Tour card, which he’ll earn once he tees it up in this fall’s World Amateur Team Championship, can be deferred until June 2025 if he wants to play a fourth year. Sargent still needs to shore up his wedge game, and if Vandy again falls flat in the postseason, perhaps Sargent is motivated to try one last time at a team national championship. Sherwood made some tweaks throughout his game and battled some inconsistency, especially in the spring, but he’s shown glimpses (T-6 at Northeast, Sweet 16 at Western Amateur), and not having the Walker Cup to worry about should take some weight off him and allow him to have more fun. Moll and Riedel both returning for their extra years are huge boosts, especially Moll, who won last fall’s Frederica Cup and then ran off four straight top-6s in the spring. Riedel is a good short game away from being an All-American. Van Paris, last year’s sixth man for much of the campaign, broke out this summer by winning the Sunnehanna. Williams won the Cabo as part of a strong spring start, though he showed his newness to college golf by April and didn’t see the lineup again. He’ll factor a good bit, even on a deep team. As for the freshmen, they are talented, but this is one of the toughest starting fives to crack.
3. Arizona State
Final 2022-23 rank: 5
2023 NCAA Championship finish: Quarterfinalist (eighth in stroke play)
Top returners: Preston Summerhays (Jr.), Josele Ballester (Jr.), Luke Potter (Soph.), Michael Mjaaseth (Soph.), Ryggs Johnston (Gr.)
Key departures: Gabe Salvanera
Arriving: Wenyi Ding (Fr.), Pongsapak Laopakdee (Fr.), Connor Williams (Fr.), Anawin Pikulthong (Fr.), Nick Prieto (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Summerhays, Ballester, Potter, Mjaaseth, Johnston
Scouting report: When Grayhawk Golf Club was awarded three straight NCAA Championships, many around college golf automatically handed the Sun Devils at least one NCAA title, maybe more. But with those three championships now in the books, Arizona State only got as far as the final in 2022. Disappointing for sure, but head coach Matt Thurmond’s squad remains among the NCAA favorites as it sets its sights on the new national-championship venue, La Costa. “We will really miss Grayhawk, but yes, there are positives that come with not hosting as well, where we can quietly do out thing, not have all the attention on us and see what happens,” Thurmond said. “There are a lot of really good teams, historically good, but we should be as good as anybody and have a chance.” It’s not crazy to think that Arizona State has as many as six players capable of being All-Americans. Summerhays was a first-teamer last season, and the Walker Cupper is on the verge of massive success, Thurmond says, after winning once among seven total top-10s as a sophomore. Ballester has battled inconsistency in college, but after a T-48 at Valspar last March, a frustrated Ballester told Thurmond, “I’m ready,” and he’s not looked back, posting four top-15s before a T-29 at nationals and then winning the European Amateur this summer to get into the Open Championship, where he almost made the cut. Potter was considered by some to be the top-ranked recruit last season, and though he posted just four top-10s, he should eclipse that number this year. Mjaaseth was a pleasant surprise last season, finishing worse than T-26 just twice, and his maturity and work ethic continue to stand out. Ding is the top-ranked freshman per the World Amateur Golf Ranking, but obligations for the Chinese national team this fall (Asian Games, Asia-Pacific Amateur, etc.) forced him to defer his enrollment until January. Ding’s early absence gives Johnston, a fifth-year senior, a chance to show he still belongs in the lineup. Johnston bounced back last season from a dismal sophomore campaign with a couple top-5s to start the fall. He didn’t notch a top-10 after that and he struggled for much of the summer, but he overcame some loose swings to make the Round of 32 at the U.S. Amateur. He’s still very capable of getting hot for stretches. If not, Thurmond has four other freshmen at his disposal, most notably Pongsapak Laopakdee, nicknamed Fifa, a top-200 amateur who reached the Round of 16 at the U.S. Junior should get a considerable number of reps this season.
4. Florida State
Final 2022-23 rank: 7
2023 NCAA Championship finish: Semifinalist (T-5 in stroke play)
Top returners: Luke Clanton (Soph.), Frederik Kjettrup (Sr.), Cole Anderson (Sr.), Brett Roberts (Sr.), Jack Bigham (Soph.), Michael Mays (Jr.), Patrick McCann (Jr.), Gray Albright (Sr.)
Key departures: None
Arriving: Tyler Weaver (Fr.), Carson Brewer (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Clanton, Anderson, Kjettrup, Roberts, Bigham
Scouting report: The Seminoles’ warpath into the NCAA semifinals was no fluke. Roberts was a second-team All-American and one of four total All-Americans for the Seminoles – all of whom are back, including Clanton, who broke out toward the end of the spring, winning an NCAA regional and then nearly earned a Walker Cup spot with a summer that included top-4s at Sunnehanna and Northeast. If Clanton, a great iron player, shores up his wedge game and drives it more consistently, he can be one of the top players in the country and the No. 1 on a team that features three seniors – Anderson, Kjettrup and Roberts – who have made match play two of the past three years at the NCAA Championship. Kjettrup struggled off the tee last fall, but he started the spring win, T-2, T-2. The crookedness returned at NCAAs (T-79), but he had a good summer, highlighted by a T-24 at the DP World Tour’s Made in Himmerland. Anderson nearly won a Korn Ferry Tour event two summers ago, and that confidence booster spurred him to a junior season where he was T-14 or better in eight starts, including a win at Virginia’s event. He’s struggled a bit since the start of the postseason, though reaching the Round of 32 at the U.S. Amateur gives him some momentum heading into the fall. The fifth man, Bigham, is a Walker Cupper, nearly won the European Amateur this summer before backing up to T-4, and he has the potential to be one of the best drivers of the ball in the country. Head coach Trey Jones likely will deploy the same five guys each time out this season, but watch out for Weaver, who is nearly top 250 in WAGR and won the Carris Trophy followed by a runner-up at the English Amateur this summer.
Final 2022-23 rank: 9
2023 NCAA Championship finish: 10th
Top returners: J.M. Butler (Sr.), Brendan Valdes (Jr.), Carson Bacha (Sr.), Alex Vogelsong (Gr.), Reed Lotter (Soph.), Evan Vo (Jr.), Ryan Eshleman (Sr.)
Key departures: Austin Coggin
Arriving: Jackson Koivun (Fr.), Cayden Pope (Fr.), Josiah Gilbert (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Butler, Koivun, Valdes, Bacha, Vogelsong
Scouting report: There’s depth, and then there’s Auburn depth. The Tigers don’t have a top-40 amateur in the world, but they do boast four in the top 65, led by Butler, who advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur, where four total Tigers (Koivun, Valdes and Bacha) reached at least the Round of 16. Butler was an All-American for the second straight season as a junior despite undergoing some swing changes. As he showed at Cherry Hills, his putter is a huge asset, and his strength gains should allow him to be a multiple-time winner this season. Valdes is super athletic and a birdie machine who won Isleworth last fall and had eight total finishes of T-11 or better last season. This summer Valdes made match play at both the Western and U.S. amateurs, and he was medalist at the Western. Bacha also made match play at both those prestigious events, and if he can make strides on the greens, he could be an All-American as well. Koivun is probably going to be starting right away, as he was the top-ranked junior in the AJGA rankings before arriving on campus this summer along with Pope, who also could get some looks. Vogelsong has the experience, though Auburn is still waiting for him to truly break out. He will have serious competition for a spot in the back of the lineup from Lotter, who has a ton of firepower; Eshleman, who won once among five top-10s last season; and Gilbert, an unknown prospect who is very raw but could surprise at some point. Vo, if healthy, is a threat to play a lot, but he’s still recovering from rupturing his right ACL last spring and won’t be 100% until the spring at the earliest and possibly will redshirt. The Tigers won five times last season, the most under Clinard, and were NCAA regional winners on their home course. While the Tigers have struggled at SECs in recent years, not making match play three straight seasons now, they’ve cracked the top 12 in their last four NCAA Championship appearances, including a semifinal appearance in 2018. “This a new year,” head coach Nick Clinard said. “The previous years are in the trash, we’ve got new blood, the three freshmen coming in, and I know the seniors are going to be very motivated.”
Final 2022-23 rank: 15
2023 NCAA Championship finish: 19th
Top returners: Christiaan Maas (Soph.), Brian Stark (Gr.), Tommy Morrison (Soph.), Keaton Vo (Soph.), Jacob Sosa (Soph.)
Key departures: Travis Vick, Mason Nome
Arriving: Nathan Petronzio (Sr., transferred from SMU)
Projected starting lineup: Maas, Stark, Morrison, Vo, Petronzio
Scouting report: What a strange season it was in Austin. On the heels of their 2022 NCAA Championship-winning season, the Longhorns saw No. 1 player Travis Vick struggle, get subbed out after one round of Big 12s and then not travel with the team in the postseason. Fellow senior Mason Nome had some early bumps and then had to fight hard to get back into the starting lineup. Oklahoma State transfer Stark and early enrollee Morrison were added in January as reinforcements, but Texas still missed the 54-hole cut at Grayhawk for the second time in three years. That all weighed heavily on head coach John Fields. “All of those things that happened last year, all of those things were heartbreaking for me because it was so difficult to come out of what we had just accomplished and then have to deal with so many different emotional aspects of putting this next team together,” Fields said. But that heartbreak is in the past now, and Fields has a young and exciting team that could again challenge for a national championship. Maas is a Haskins Award contender after a debut season in which he posted seven top-15s, and though he laid an egg at the U.S. Amateur, he was runner-up at the Western before that. The change in scenery for Stark led to a few top-10s, and he followed with a solid summer highlighted by a T-4 at Northeast and a match-play berth at the U.S. Amateur. Morrison was up and down in his first semester, but his T-8 at regionals propelled Texas into the NCAA Championship, and he made the Round of 16 at the British Amateur and quarters of the U.S. Junior this summer. Vo has the potential to be this team’s second-best player while Sosa could pop for a few events like he did last season. Petronzio, the SMU transfer who played for Longhorns assistant Eric Henson in high school (Austin’s Lake Travis), was one of the top names in the portal and probably will see a ton of action as well; he’s already playing well in the qualifier. And don’t count out freshman Jack Gilbert, who qualified for the U.S. Amateur this summer and if Texas tradition holds will get the nod to play the fall opener at Sahalee.
Final 2022-23 rank: 17
2023 NCAA Championship finish: T-11
Top returners: Nick Dunlap (Soph.), Canon Claycomb (Gr.), Thomas Ponder (Gr.), J.P. Cave (Sr.), Jonathan Griz (Soph.)
Key departures: Jack Goldasich, Tyler Lipscomb
Arriving: Connor Brown (Jr., transferred from UNC Greensboro), Austin Coggin (Gr., transferred from Auburn), Luke Coyle (Fr.), Jack Mitchell (Fr.), Tristin Wisener (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Dunlap, Claycomb, Ponder, Cave, Griz
Scouting report: Someone better keep an eye on head coach Jay Seawell’s cholesterol levels because he’s likely to be drinking a lot of milkshakes this season. The consumption has already begun, in fact, as Dunlap punctuated an extraordinary summer by winning the U.S. Amateur, following wins at the Northeast and North and South amateurs and a Walker Cup invite. Dunlap was battling left-wrist tendonitis when he arrived on campus last fall, but with help from the Crimson Tide’s medical staff, he got healthy and after getting walloped by Vanderbilt’s Gordon Sargent by 19 shots, Dunlap began the current roll that he’s on. “He saw the chasm in front of him, and he got to work,” Seawell said. Behind Dunlap are three experienced seniors in Claycomb, Ponder and Cave, who finally got a taste of the NCAA Championship last spring and posted a respectable T-11. It’s likely that seeing Dunlap’s ascension inspires Claycomb, a former Junior Presidents Cupper and AJGA star, to reach even greater heights in college. Griz had a slow adjustment to college, but he had top-20s at SECs and regionals. The two transfers could challenge for playing time, especially Brown, who could flourish in his new environment. The freshmen have potential, though if anyone breaks out right away it should be Coyle, who reached match play at the U.S. Junior this summer. “We made great strides last year in becoming a team,” Seawell said, “and the only thing that got in our way, it’s something you can’t teach and that’s experience. Being at the national championship, that was a new arena for everyone on this team. … Now we’ve experienced the arena, and our guys will be more prepared if they get that opportunity again. But we’ve gotta start at ground level, and we’re very excited because we have great players, great experience and there’s a great energy within our program right now.”
Final 2022-23 rank: 11
2023 NCAA Championship finish: 17th
Top returners: Drew Goodman (Jr.), Ben Lorenz (Sr.), Jase Summy (Soph.), Stephen Campbell Jr. (Jr.), Jake Holbrook (Gr.), Jaxon Dowell (Jr.), Luke Kluver (Gr.)
Key departures: Patrick Welch
Arriving: PJ Maybank III (Fr.), Ryder Cowan (Fr.), Connor Henry (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Goodman, Lorenz, Summy, Campbell, Maybank III
Scouting report: After two straight seasons being ranked No. 14 in the preseason, these Sooners buck the trend. Sure, missing the 54-hole cut at last season’s NCAA Championship – and failing to make match play for the first time since 2015 – stung, but Oklahoma, even without Welch, is capable of a bounce-back. It all starts with Goodman, who head coach Ryan Hybl calls the hardest worker that he’s ever coached. Goodman’s game has matured greatly over the last six months or so, and his close to the summer – T-4 at Trans-Miss, semifinalist at Western and match play at U.S. Amateur – proves that he’s worthy of being on the preseason watch list for the Haskins Award. Not many players in college golf had a better spring than Lorenz, who shook off some injuries and confidence issues to post six top-10s and is suddenly the No. 30 amateur in the world. After that, Hybl has a ton of options, most of which were part of last year’s squad that won four times, including a Big 12 title. “We have a super deep squad, maybe the deepest we’ve ever had,” he says. Summy was a consistent lineup presence as a freshman, posting three top-5s. Campbell also saw a ton of action, though he didn’t have a great summer and could be pushed by Holbrook, who won the Trans-Miss, and a couple freshmen in Maybank, who won the Azalea Amateur by 11 shots earlier this year, and Cowan, a local kid who won both Oklahoma state amateur and junior events. Realistically, there are nine or so players who could make an impact for the Sooners, who will try to three-peat in their last year in the Big 12 while also getting back to match play at nationals. They certainly have the collection of horses to make those runs.
9. Georgia Tech
Final 2022-23 rank: 4
2023 NCAA Championship finish: Runner-up (T-5 in stroke play)
Top returners: Christo Lamprecht (Sr.), Bartley Forrester (Gr.), Hiroshi Tai (Soph.), Benjamin Reuter (Jr.), Aidan Tran (Soph.)
Key departures: Ross Steelman, Connor Howe
Arriving: Kale Fontenot (Fr.), Carson Kim (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Lamprecht, Forrester, Tai, Fontenot, Kim
Scouting report: The Yellow Jackets stood tall – literally – all last season before ultimately falling to Florida in the NCAA final at Grayhawk and continuing the program’s quest for its first NCAA team title. While Steelman and Howe leave Georgia Tech with the task of filling two All-American voids, the 6-foot-9 Lamprecht, the British Amateur champ and low amateur at The Open, is poised to put this year’s squad on his back. Lamprecht missed the U.S. Amateur because of eye surgery, though he’ll be fine for the team’s fall opener at Olympia Fields. Forrester and Tai give head coach Bruce Heppler two other potential All-Americans, which is the formula, the veteran coach says, to having success at the NCAA Championship. Asked whether he expects the freshmen to play right away, Heppler perked up, “Oh yeah. I think they’re going to play a lot.” Kim, who switched course after USC mad a coaching change and signed with Tech eight weeks before the start of classes, is a Junior Presidents Cupper, but Heppler might be just as high on Fontenot, the recent Louisiana Junior champ and a quarterfinalist at the AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic. If the freshmen need some time, Reuter was a key player two years ago and may return to that role with a more focused practice routine. Tran is a wild card as well, buried on the depth chart a season ago but entering the fall after notching two big top-5s in California state amateur events. The move from Grayhawk to La Costa for this year’s NCAA Championship might help the long-hitting Yellow Jackets more than any other top-10 team, so despite the departures of Steelman and Howe, don’t count out Heppler and Co.
Final 2022-23 rank: 14
2023 NCAA Championship finish: Did not qualify
Top returners: Caleb Surratt (Soph.), Bryce Lewis (Gr.), Josh Hill (Soph.), Lance Simpson (Soph.), Jake Hall (Gr.), Bruce Murphy (Fr.), Laurent Desmarchais (Jr.), Evan Woosley-Reed (Soph.)
Key departures: None
Arriving: Jean-Philippe Parr (Fr.)
Projected starting lineup: Surratt, Lewis, Hill, Simpson, Hall
Scouting report: The Vols were humming entering the postseason last spring with a win, two runners-up and the SEC stroke-play medal in their final four tournaments. But in the leadup to the NCAA Auburn Regional, spring arrival Hill fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot, an injury that shook up a squad not used to much success in May. For the second straight season, Tennessee whiffed at regionals, finishing eighth and missing out on a ticket to nationals. “That little bit of adversity kind of threw everyone into a little bit of panic, myself included,” head coach Brennan Webb said, “but we’ve certainly learned from it.” With everyone back, the Vols are eager for some serious redemption. Surratt is one of the top players in the nation, a two-time winner and first-team All-American as a freshman, who will enter his second season fresh off the Walker Cup. Expect Surratt to clean up some of the poor rounds that plagued him last season as he continues to learn to handle distractions and enormous expectations. Lewis won once and was second another time, but he didn’t have any other top-10s and finished outside the top 25 at conference and regionals. Still, Lewis – and once fully healthy Hill (he’ll likely be cleared for the fall opener, though at what level remains to be seen) – figure to slot right in behind Surratt. The rest of the starting lineup will be a “dogfight,” Webb says. Simpson had a strong summer, highlighted by a third at the Monroe Invitational. Hall is a veteran presence, and though he was up and down, his good is really good, evidenced by his T-2 at the SEC Fall Preview and win at All-American Intercollegiate. Desmarchais had seven top-15s last season, though only one came in the starting lineup, so he’s still waiting to truly breakout. Murphy, who redshirted last season, has the physical tools to crack the starting five.
11. Virginia: With Phil Mickelson Award winner Ben James, a five-time winner a season ago, leading the way, the Cavaliers stormed into match play at last season’s NCAA Championship and took eventual NCAA champion Florida down to the wire before falling in a close quarterfinal match. Only Pietro Bovari is gone from that Virginia team, and in to likely replace his spot in the lineup is freshman Josh Duangmanee, the younger brother of Cavaliers senior George Duangmanee. That’s a bit of a drop-off – at least for now – though Virginia’s top four, which also includes potential breakout sophomore Bryan Lee (top-25s at ACCs and nationals as a freshman), has a great deal of potential. Plus, who could ignore the amazing story of Paul Chang, the former club golfer who reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur and will now get a chance to play for the varsity squad after three years of begging for a spot.
12. Texas A&M: The Aggies can no longer lean on the graduated Sam Bennett, and they’re ready for it. Senior Daniel Rodrigues, juniors Phichaksn Maichon and Vishnu Sadagopan, and sophomore Jaime Montojo combined for 20 top-15 finishes a season ago, and that foursome should see a lot of action together this season. However, the Aggies’ freshman class – high-school teammates Aaron Pounds, Jack Usner and Jake Maggert – will be pushing hard, especially Pounds, a Junior Presidents Cupper who missed a good chunk of the summer while recovering from a right-hand injury but has the ability to be an All-SEC guy right away.
13. Texas Tech: Red Raiders head coach Greg Sands has essentially plugged in North Texas transfer Vicente Marzilio for the departed Ludvig Aberg, who swept last season’s player-of-the-year awards and is already making noise on the PGA Tour. Clearly no one can replace Aberg, but Tech will still be in the national conversation. Marzilio, a senior and nearly a top-200 amateur in the world, made match play at the U.S. Amateur, as did junior Calum Scott, who was in the Haskins Award picture after his sophomore fall before tailing off a bit in the spring. Scott, a Walker Cup this year for the first time, will be this team’s go-to guy, but the Red Raiders sure could use the All-American version of senior Baard Skogen from two seasons ago and not the player who battled a back injury for much of last season.
14. Stanford: The Cardinal get bumped down a few spots with the news that senior Michael Thorbjornsen will be out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his back. Head coach Conrad Ray is expecting Thorbjornsen, who won’t require surgery, back at some point this season as he looks to lock up No. 1 in PGA Tour University and lead Stanford to some hardware, but such return will be “evidence-based.” In the interim, seniors Barclay Brown, a three-time Walker Cupper, and Karl Vilips, who is swinging it the best that Ray’s seen in a while, will be counted on to pick up the slack. Freshmen Ethan Gao and Kush Arora will get a lot of playing time, and senior Jake Beber-Frankel, a former AJGA All-American, is finally healthy. Another storyline to watch is junior Alex Yang, who has struggled in college before qualifying for this summer’s U.S. Open; Yang is now weighing his options and may not be with the team by the time the season starts.
15. Ohio State: Four of five starters from the team that finished 15th at the NCAA Championship are back, including a two-time All-American in senior Maxwell Moldovan and fifth-year player Neal Shipley, who had the hottest summer of anyone not named Nick Dunlap, posting four top-3 finishes before finishing runner-up to Dunlap in the U.S. Amateur. If Shipley keeps rolling, the Buckeyes have as good a one-two punch as anyone in the country. We already know Moldovan is extremely motivated after being snubbed of a Walker Cup berth.
16. Oregon: This might be Casey Martin’s best team since Wyndham Clark and Norman Xiong led Oregon to the NCAA final in 2017 at Rich Harvest Farms. These Ducks aren’t super flashy, but few squads drive it more accurately and they possess a ton of experience with four players having played in each of the past two NCAA Championships, including a pair of fifth-year guys in Owen Avrit and Nate Stember. Avrit, who is knocking on the door to being top-50 player in the world amateur rankings, is poised to build on his third-team All-American campaign as a senior, and senior Greg Solhaug also figures to break out even more following a summer in which he made the Round of 32 at both the British Amateur and U.S. Amateur, and almost cracked the top 20 at the European Amateur.
17. Duke: Blue Devils head coach Jamie Green has his most talented and deepest squad in recent memory. Junior Luke Sample leads the way after posting a team-best five top-5s last season while fellow junior Kelly Chinn had a nice summer by finishing T-2 at Sunnehanna and reaching the quarterfinals of the Western Amateur. Senior Ian Siebers is second in career scoring average at Duke (71.35), just 0.03 strokes shy of current PGA Tour pro Alex Smalley, and streaky sophomore William Love showed the ability to contribute a good number of rounds in the 60s as a freshman (11). And I haven’t even mentioned U.S. Junior champ Bryan Kim, who will start right away for Duke.
18. East Tennessee State: The Bucs have quietly qualified for each of the past three NCAA Championships, and they return a trio of players who have played in all three – fifth-year seniors Mats Ege, Archie Davies and Remi Chartier. Add junior Algot Kleen and head coach Jake Amos has four players who have won at least one college individual title. Walker Cup snub Matthew Dodd-Berry rounds out arguably the best mid-major top five in the country.
19. Florida: After losing Fred Biondi, Ricky Castillo and Yuxin Lin to graduation, Florida head coach J.C. Deacon hit the transfer portal and landed the top available player, Long Beach State’s Ian Gilligan. Fifth-year senior John DuBois is back as well, but after that there are still a few question marks, including Matthew Kress, the former walk-on who had a breakout season as a redshirt freshman but still has a lot to prove. Head coach J.C. Deacon is excited for the challenge, and he’s got several options at the back end of the lineup, most notably sophomore Parker Bell, a surprise semifinalist at the U.S. Amateur, and junior Joe Pagdin, who redshirted last season as he re-tooled his swing. There will be growing pains, but the Gators could be a top-12 team by mid-spring.
20. Oklahoma State: If there are two things that Cowboys head coach Alan Bratton is expecting, they are that senior Jonas Baumgartner will be a consistent No. 1 for this squad and that the three freshmen – Preston Stout, Johnnie Clark and Gaven Lane – will get a ton of run. Baumgartner was an honorable-mention All-American last season, a campaign that included a runner-up at Big 12s and qualifying for the NCAA Championship individually. Whether or not Oklahoma State gets back to nationals this season, however, might be dependent, once again, on what the team gets out of up-and-down senior Bo Jin.
21. Arizona: With the graduations of Chase Sienkiewicz and Chaz Aurilia, the Wildcats must replace their top two scorers and six combined top-10s from last season, plus a ton of length off the tee. To do so, head coach Jim Anderson is going to lean heavily on lone senior Sam Sommerhauser and his German trio – junior Tiger Christensen, sophomore Yannick Malik and freshman Carl Siemens – that teamed up to win the 2021 European Boys title. Christensen had a breakout summer with a top-10 at the European Amateur and qualifying for The Open. Also, keep an eye on sophomore Zach Pollo, who shared medalist honors at Arizona’s home event, the N.I.T., last spring.
22. Georgia: Much will be made of Maxwell Ford’s transfer to North Carolina, but the Bulldogs, despite losing their best player from a team that won regionals and finished 14th at the NCAA Championship, have already seen some big strides made this year from the guys who were behind Ford. Fifth-year senior Ben van Wyk was medalist at the British Amateur. Senior Caleb Manuel swept Maine’s big state events, open and amateur. Fifth-year senior Connor Creasy shot 61 to qualify for a Korn Ferry Tour event (he then posted 5 under, though still missed the cut at the NV5 Invitational). Sophomore Carter Loflin, along with his partner, Wells Williams of Vanderbilt, was a semifinalist and co-medalist at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. And then you add in D-II Lee University transfer Beck Burnette, who could be the Bulldogs’ No. 1 at some point, and Georgia has a lineup with plenty of potential.
23. Illinois: Much like Florida, Illinois lost multiple superstars from last season. First-team All-Americans Adrien Dumont de Chassart and Tommy Kuhl are gone, and it’s going to be a tall task to replace them. This is junior Jackson Buchanan’s team now, and his runner-up finish at last season’s NCAA Championship shows the type of player he can be. Buchanan and senior Piercen Hunt made match play at the U.S. Amateur and give head coach Mike Small some experience to lean on. The rest of the lineup should feature some combination of fifth-year senior Jerry Ji (former top-50 amateur in the world who has battled shoulder issues and didn’t crack the lineup last season); two transfers Tyler Goecke (Wright State) and Timmy Crawford (Loyola-Chicago); and freshmen Max Herendeen (last year’s Junior PGA champ), Ethan Wilson and Adam Hunt (no relation to Piercen).
24. California: Walter Chun, the Bears’ head coach, has heard for some time now about how this year’s team is supposed to be really good. Well, after signing the nation’s top recruiting class, led by AJGA Player of the Year Eric Lee, the time has come to meet those expectations. There have been some lean years recently for Cal, which hasn’t qualified for nationals since 2019, Collin Morikawa’s senior season. But with a foursome of talented freshmen and the reigning U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champs, Sampson Zheng and Aaron Du, the Bears certainly have the firepower again to challenge for one of those 30 spots at La Costa. Just don’t panic if it takes until the spring for them to really get going.
25. Ole Miss: The Rebels must replace their top two players from last season – Hugo Townsend and Sarut Vongchaisit – and Brett Schell (transferred to North Florida) also is gone, but head coach Chris Malloy took to the portal himself to add reinforcements in Michael La Sasso (North Carolina State) and Tim Tillmans (Kansas State) to go along with sophomore Cameron Tankersley, who was second on the team in top-10s last season (three).
26. North Florida: Head coach Scott Schroeder filled out the back end of his lineup by using the transfer portal, netting D-II national individual champion Andrew Riley from Palm Beach Atlantic and Ole Miss’ Brett Schell, both Jacksonville-area natives. As for the front end, the Ospreys are flush with talent and experience, and it all starts with senior Nick Gabrelcik. A three-time All-American, Gabrelcik has won seven times in his college career, and he’s coming off a strong summer in which he won the Southern Amateur.
27. Colorado State: In his first year at the helm, Rams head coach Michael Wilson led a skilled group to a three-win fall, an NCAA Championship appearance and No. 31 final ranking in Golfweek. Gone is Davis Bryant, but back are fifth-year senior Connor Jones and junior Christoph Bleier, who each won twice a season ago. Freshman Sebastian Nilsson from Sweden could be a nice contributor as well.
28. Baylor: Led by fifth-year senior Johnny Keefer, a two-time All-American who posted three top-10s in Elite Amateur Series events this summer, the Bears return all nine players from last season’s squad that qualified for the NCAA Championship and add a pair of freshmen. Tyler Isenhart and Luke Dossey also are back for fifth years, while sophomore Jonas Appel will be expected to find some of the form that made him a former AJGA first-team All-American.
29. Mississippi State: The challenge will be replacing the nine top-10s lost with the departures of Ford Clegg, Ruan Pretorius and Austin Vukovits, and it will be tough to repeat as a top-20 team nationally. But the Bulldogs do have some firepower atop the lineup in Garrett Endicott and Hunter Logan, who combined for 15 top-20s last season.
30. Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons weren’t regional eligible last season, but that wasn’t because of their ranking (No. 23 in Golfweek); it was due to the .500 rule. Mark Power, a two-time Walker Cupper, is gone, but senior Michael Brennan and junior Scotty Kennon, plus a nice crop of freshmen, should be enough to at least get this team back to the postseason. And if Brennan finds more consistency – two wins but also four finishes outside the top 40 – Wake could sneak back into the NCAA Championship.
Top 30 teams
1. North Carolina
3. Arizona State
4. Florida State
9. Georgia Tech
12. Texas A&M
13. Texas Tech
15. Ohio State
18. East Tennessee State
20. Oklahoma State
25. Ole Miss
26. North Florida
27. Colorado State
29. Mississippi State
30. Wake Forest
Next five: 31. BYU, 32. LSU, 33. San Diego State, 34. Arkansas, 35. Pepperdine
Top 30 players
GOLF CHANNEL’S PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA TEAMS
1. Nick Dunlap, Soph., Alabama
2. Gordon Sargent, Jr., Vanderbilt
3. David Ford, Jr., North Carolina
4. Caleb Surratt, Soph., Tennessee
5. Michael Thorbjornsen, Sr., Stanford*
6. Christo Lamprecht, Sr., Georgia Tech
7. Ben James, Soph., Virginia
8. Preston Summerhays, Jr., Arizona State
9. Christiaan Maas, Soph., Texas
10. Austin Greaser, Gr., North Carolina
11. Dylan Menante, Gr., North Carolina
12. Maxwell Moldovan, Gr., Ohio State
13. Nick Gabrelcik, Sr., North Florida
14. Luke Clanton, Soph., Florida State
15. Drew Goodman, Jr., Oklahoma
16. Cole Sherwood, Sr., Vanderbilt
17. Josele Ballester, Jr., Arizona State
18. Michael Brennan, Sr., Wake Forest
19. Cole Anderson, Sr., Florida State
20. William Moll, Gr., Vanderbilt
21. Karl Vilips, Sr., Stanford
22. Frederik Kjettrup, Sr., Florida State
23. Herman Wibe Sekne, Sr., Purdue
24. Wenyi Ding, Fr., Arizona State#
25. J.M. Butler, Sr., Auburn
26. Jackson Buchanan, Jr., Illinois
27. Neal Shipley, Gr., Ohio State
28. Bryce Lewis, Sr., Tennessee
29. Jackson Koivun, Fr., Auburn
30. Canon Claycomb, Gr., Alabama
Next five: 31. Bartley Forrester, Gr., Georgia Tech; 32. Maxwell Ford, Jr., North Carolina; 33. Jackson Van Paris, Jr., Vanderbilt; 34. Ian Gilligan, Jr., Florida; 35. Brian Stark, Gr., Texas
*-injured to begin season; #-enrolling in January