While the Masters signifies the spiritual start of spring for many, the fiery foliage in the fall along with some of the top men's and women's teams in the nation will be on full display at The East Lake Cup, which gets underway on Monday at the venerable club in Atlanta that Bobby Jones called home.
Now in its eighth year, The East Lake Cup features top-performing teams from the previous year's NCAA Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships.
This year's men's field is made up of defending NCAA Champion Texas, national runner-up Arizona State along with semifinalists Vanderbilt and Pepperdine. The women's field consists of national finalist Oregon, semifinalist Texas A&M along with quarterfinalists Auburn and UCLA.
Modeled after the NCAA Championships, the format consists of an opening round of stroke play to crown an individual male and female champion and determine seeding for the following two days of match play competition.
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East Lake Cup Quick Facts
East Lake Golf Club; Atlanta, Ga.
Texas, Arizona State, Vanderbilt, Pepperdine
Oregon, Texas A&M, Auburn, UCLA
Single round of stroke play on Monday followed by two days of match play
GOLF Channel will have live coverage each day from 12-3:00 p.m. PT
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A Look at the Teams
The Longhorns got hot - and healthy - at the right time last spring and rode a heater that culminated in the program's fourth national championship. Texas suffered substantial graduation losses in mainstays Cole Hammer along with Parker and Pierceson Coody, but with seniors Travis Vick and Mason Nome back in the fold, along with a talented freshmen class consisting of Christian Maas, Keaton Vo, and Jacob Sosa, head coach John Fields can only hope experience and youth will successfully mesh in time for another springtime run.
The Sun Devils fell just short of winning the national championship last year, falling to Texas, 3-2, in their own backyard at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale. ASU is counting heavily on Preston Summerhays, Josele Ballester and Ryggs Johnston to offset the losses of Cameron Sisk, James Leow and David Puig, who left Tempe a year early to join the LIV Tour. The fall results have been positive. A strong showing at the Maui Jim Invitational (2), the Fighting Illini Invitational (4th) and the Ben Hogan Collegiate Invitational (t-3) have jumped the Sun Devils to second in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.
The Commodores are loaded and anything short of a national championship in seven months would be considered a disappointment. That's how high the bar is in Nashville, where NCAA individual champion Gordon Sargent, junior Cole Sherwood, senior William Moll and fifth-year senior Reid Davenport return to a lineup that advanced to the national semifinals last year, where they fell to eventual NCAA Champion Texas, 4-1-1. The Dores scored two quick victories at the Frederica Cup and the SEC Preview to start the season but were upset by Tennessee in the finals of the SEC Match Play Championship and finished fifth at the Ben Hogan Collegiate Invitational.
After winning the national championship in 2021 and making a gallant title defense last year by advancing to the semifinals, the Waves have a different look this season. Gone are stalwarts Joe Highsmith, Joey Vrzich and Dylan Menante, who transferred to North Carolina over the summer. Seniors Derek Hitchner and William Mouw anchor a lineup that includes transfers Sam Choi (San Diego State), Roberto Nieves (Delaware) and Luke Gifford (South Florida) along with promising sophomore Ian Maspat. The Waves will tune-up for The East Lake Cup at this weekend's Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate in Alpharetta.
The Tigers have improved upon their finishes with each outing this season. After finishing 10th of 12 teams at the ANNIKA Collegiate, the Tigers finished fifth at the Mason Rudolph Championships and then second at the Illini Women's Invitational at Medinah, where they set a 54-hole school scoring record at 29-under 835. Senior Megan Schofill is one of the top players in the country and recently picked up her third collegiate individual title at the Mason Rudolph Championships.
The Ducks had a dream season last year, winning their first-ever Pac-12 Championship and advancing to the finals of the NCAA Championships before losing to Stanford. A light fall schedule has seen Oregon finish sixth at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate and third at the Windy City Classic, which was won by USC. Currently ranked sixth by Golfweek/Sagarin, the Ducks have plenty of firepower for another deep run this spring. Oregon returns three players from their 2021-22 lineup, including second-team All-American and Pac-12 individual champion Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu along with seniors Briana Chacon and Ching-Tzu Chen.
The Bruins had a strong showing at nationals last season, advancing to match play after finishing fourth in the 54-hole stroke play portion of the event. UCLA has big shoes to fill with the loss of All-American Emma Spitz, but return sophomores Zoe Antoinette Campos, Caroline Canales and Alessia Nobilio, junior Ty Akabane and senior Annabel Wilson, who became the first Irishwoman semifinalist in U.S. Women’s Amateur history last summer at Chambers Bay.
The Aggies reached the semifinals of the NCAA Championships for the first time in program history last year and with a lineup still largely intact from last season, Texas A&M is certainly capable of another deep run at Grayhawk in May. Blanca Fernández García-Poggio is on the preseason watch list for the ANNIKA Award, while Zoe Slaughter, Hailee Cooper, Jennie Park and Adela Cernousek round out a talented lineup. The Aggies finished second to Stanford at the Carmel Cup to start the season, won their own "Mo" Morial Invitational and finished fifth at The Blessings.
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A Look Back on Last Year
Oklahoma defeated arch-rival Oklahoma State, 3-2-0 to capture the men's title while Oklahoma State turned back Duke by the same score to capture the women's championship. For the complete recap, click here