QUICK U QUIZ
BY RYAN HERRINGTON
Faster than you can say “summer vacation,” the
2012-13 season beckons. Those who follow the
college crowd know the window between the end
of the NCAA Championship and the start of the fall sched-
ule—89 days in Division I men’s golf, 97 for the women—
offers little in the way of an “offseason.” It’s enough time,
though, for a handful of storylines to take form as the Texas
men and Alabama women look to defend their NCAA titles.
With that, Golf World offers some thoughts on various
plot points for the drama set to begin.
from last year’s magical class, the
competition from that crew won’t
make things any easier.
Will freshmen reign supreme again in the men’s game?
That Alabama first-year golfer Justin Thomas was the
consensus national player of the year last spring isn’t
unprecedented. Twice in the previous five seasons a rookie
has claimed the Nicklaus and Haskins Awards (USC’s Jamie
Lovemark in 2007 and UCLA’s Patrick Cantlay in 2011). That
his closest competition, though, would be from two other
freshmen—Texas’ Jordan Spieth and Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers—speaks to how the young were restless in 2011-12.
“I think this was a once-in-a-decade class, maybe once-in-a-generation,” said Jay Seawell, the Crimson Tide coach who
saw first-hand Thomas’ exploits, last spring. By year’s end four
of the top nine players in the Golfstat Cup ranking (TCU’s
Julien Brun) and five of the top 18 (Washington’s Cheng-Tsung
Pan) were freshmen who combined for 12 individual victories.
Clemson’s Cody Proveaux, the 2011 AJGA Rolex boys
POY, and South Carolina’s Matthew NeSmith, the favorite
for the honor in 2012, carry the banner this fall. They
might be the latest to have an immediate impact upon
arriving on campus, but the class as a whole isn’t quite
as top-heavy. Moreover, barring a sophomore slump
How much longer will Spieth
be at Texas?
A year ago Cantlay was the fixation of
golf’s futures speculators regarding whether he would leave school
early given his success moonlighting in PGA Tour events.
With Cantlay making the jump in June, attention turns to
Spieth, a 19-year-old from Dallas who had two wins and
seven top-five finishes in 11 starts as a freshman while
helping the Longhorns end a 40-year NCAA title drought.
Fueling the discussion is the fact Spieth, a two-time
U.S. Junior champ and member of the 2011 U.S. Walker
Cup team, is flirting with moving on. He said he intends
to enter this fall’s PGA Tour Qualifying School as an amateur, having earned an exemption into the second stage by
making the cut at last June’s U.S. Open.
Although Spieth hasn’t had the breakout success
Cantlay did in his tour starts, he hasn’t chopped it up
either. In eight appearances he has made the cut five times
with two top- 25 showings (including a 69-70 weekend performance at Olympic Club to claim low-am honors).
Should Spieth reach the final stage, ensuring at least
some status on the Web.com Tour for 2013, it’s likely his
time in Austin will end after just 1½ years. Even if he stalls
in second stage, some believe he might still turn pro and
use his name recognition to attract sponsor’s exemptions.
Unless his game suddenly goes south, it’s doubtful Spieth
wears the burnt orange past June.