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Thursday, October 19, 2006
Knost, Oh earn player of the week honors

By Ryan Herrington
Golf World

Players of the Week
Colt Knost, SMU
For the third time in four starts this season, the senior from Pilot Point, Texas, claimed medalist honors, winning the Windon Memorial with a two-under 211 showing, five shots better than Kansas' Gary Woodland. This time Knost's performance also helped the Mustangs secure the team title, beating the Jayhawks by a comfortable 14 shots at Skokie Country Club in Glencoe, Ill.

Angela Oh, Tennessee
The freshman from Maple Grove, N.J., made 10 birdies over 54 holes at Cherokee CC in Knoxville, Tenn., en route to a career-best T-5 finish, but her birdie in a team playoff between the Lady Vols and Georgia helped UT claim the title at the Mercedes-Benz Women's Collegiate Championship.

The Fab Five
The top five teams right now in the country:

Men's teams
1. Alabama
The win streak ends at three after the fourth-place showing at the Bank of Tennessee but the Crimson Tide's confidence continues to grow.

2. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys face a stand-out field this weekend at the Isleworth/UCF Invitational, the perfect setting to show the defending NCAA champs aren't going anywhere.

3. UCLA
Could sophomore Lucas Lee (two second-place finishes in two starts this fall) be the go-to guy coach O.D. Vincent has been looking for?

4. Florida
Isleworth will show whether the young Gator squad has been reading all the press generated from its win at the Ping Preview or been continuing to work on its game in Gainesville.

5. Stanford
Win at the Gopher Invitational was nice start, but this week's victory over UCLA at The Prestige suggests the Cardinal is for real (see below).

Women's teams:
1. Georgia
The Bulldogs couldn't pull it out in the playoff with Tennessee at the Mercedes-Benz Women's Collegiate Championship, but another solid showing leaps them over Duke.

2. Duke
This week at the Stanford Invitational, the Blue Devils will have to play without Amanda Blumenherst and Jennie Lee, who are in South Africa representing the U.S. at the Women's World Amateur Team Championship. The flip side is freshmen Rebecca Kim and Yu Young Lee will get the chance to make their college debuts.

3. Arizona State
The Sun Devils will sit out the Stanford event with Anna Nordqvist and Azahara Munoz also in South Africa at the WATC. Meanwhile, sophomore Jennifer Osborn (three top-10s this fall) continues to prove she's among the toughest players in the college game.

4. UCLA
The top of the line up is solid for the Bruins with Tiffany Joh, Sydnee Michaels and Hannah Jun. Difference in being able to have a good or great season will be in the production from the No. 4 and 5 spot.

5. Auburn
The Tigers had the lead entering the final round of the Mercedes-Benz last Sunday only to fall two shots shy of the Tennessee-Georgia playoff. Haven't finished worse than third in their first three starts.

Stat of the Week
2 The number of men's or women's Division I teams that have played two or more events this fall and have yet to lose a golf tournament. The Denver women made it four out of four with a victory at the Taylor Made Aztec Fall Classic Tuesday. The other undefeated? The Princeton women. The Tigers claimed their own Princeton Invitational last month to start the 2006-07 season and followed it with a victory at the Yale Fall Intercollegiate. In both events, junior Annika Welander earned medalist honors as well, posting a 73.0 stroke average. With the ECAC Women's Championship rained out two weeks ago, the Tigers and Welander (picture courtesy of the Princeton Athletic Communications) now go for win No. 3 later this month at the Ross Resorts Invitational in Southern Pines, N.C.

What to Watch For
• It wasn't an easy decision Stanford men's coach Conrad Ray made two summers ago to hang up his clubs and end his professional playing career to take the job at his alma mater. However, it might have been one of the best decisions the Cardinal athletic department has made in some time. After nearly a decade of down times following the Tiger Woods/Notah Begay/Casey Martin years (when Ray was also a member of the golf team), Stanford has crept back to national prominence with two wins and a runner-up finish this fall, thanks in no small part to the leadership of the 31-year-old Ray. Interestingly, the Cardinal's recent success has come despite their mainstay the past two seasons, Pac-10 co-player of the year Rob Grube, having a so-so start. Picking up the slack has been senior Zack Miller, who claimed his second individual victory on Tuesday with a three-shot win at The Prestige. Meanwhile, Ray's recruiting of freshmen Jordan Cox and Joseph Bramlett has proved that he can keep highly talented Californians back home. Don't be surprised to see one or both win a tournament this season, and the Cardinal be in the hunt for at least a Pac-10 title next spring.

• The bad news: A broken hand will keep Wake Forest junior Webb Simpson from playing for the U.S. at the men's World Amateur Team Championship next week in South Africa (he's being replaced by Georgia senior Chris Kirk). The good news: The Demon Deacons close out the fall season at Isleworth next week, meaning that Simpson won't miss any additional college events because of the injury and have all winter for rehab. The injury, suffered back in North Carolina, was to a bone that Simpson previously had broken in high school and isn't considered too serious.

"It's a shame for Webb to have to miss out on this," Kirk told Campus Insider on Thursday morning regarding the WATC. "He's a good friend of mine and I talked to him yesterday. It was a big shock to me [to hear about the injury], but I'm excited. I feel like my game is in good shape to help [the U.S.] team." Kirk, meanwhile, will miss the Isleworth tournament for the Bulldogs and the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship the following week in Fort Worth.

Tournament to Watch
Isleworth-UCF Collegiate Invitational
When: Oct. 22-24
Where: Isleworth CC, Windermere, Fla.
Field: Arizona, Central Florida, Clemson, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Wake Forest.
Defending champion: Georgia (eight-over 872); Pablo Martin, Oklahoma State (four-under 212)
Skinny: In just three years, this tournament has become one of the most prestigious on the fall docket. Martin, trying to win the title for a third straight year, can remember fondly his close in the final round at Isleworth a year ago when he hit arguably the best shot of the 2005-06 college season. On the par-5 17th, he reached the green in two with a 4-iron from 224 yards, the ball rolling within an inch of the hole. The tap-in eagle allowed Martin to hold holding off his '04 co-medalist, Chris Kirk of Georgia, by two shots.

For more reporting on college golf from Golf World senior writer Ryan Herrington, visit his Campus Insider blog.