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Notebook: College Signing Day; Cowboy turned Longhorn; return of the Nomura Cup
15 Nov 2022
by Jim Young of AmateurGolf.com

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AJGA Girls' Player of the Year Kaitlyn Schroeder
AJGA Girls' Player of the Year Kaitlyn Schroeder

National Letter of Intent Signing Day is Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one for college golf coaches throughout the country, as top high school seniors sign their names on the dotted line and officially commit to their university of choice.

American Junior Golf Association Players of the Year Eric Lee (Fullerton, Calif.) and Kaitlyn Schroeder (Jacksonville, Fla.) are headed to California and Alabama, respectively. Lee, who did not finish outside the top 10 in seven national junior golf events, was the first boys junior from the state of California to earn AJGA Player of the Year honors since 2010 while Schroeder won both the Rolex and PGA Juniors over the summer. A three-time AJGA All-American, she is scheduled to enroll at Alabama for the spring semester.

Cal head coach Walter Chun also landed Ethan Fang (Plano, Texas), who is ranked fifth in the Golfweek/Sagarin Boys' Rankings along with Sihao Cong (Irvine, Calif.) and Tyler Lee (Franklin Lakes, N.J.).

"In my opinion, signing Sihao, Ethan, Eric and Tyler to National Letters of Intent will make this the top-ranked 2023 recruiting class in the country," Chun said. "I know what these young men are capable of, how hard they work, how high their ceilings are and how much they want to compete for a national championship."

Here's a look at where some of the top junior prospects are headed next fall:

Class of 2023 Golfweek/Sagarin Boys' Rankings (College)
1. Eric Lee (California); 2. Preston Stout (NA); 3. Ethan Fang (California); 4. Ethan Gao (Stanford); 5. Carson Kim (USC); 8. Jackson Koivun (Auburn); 9. P.J. Maybank (Oklahoma); 10, Bryan Kim (Duke); 11. Rylan Shim (Florida); 12. Connor Williams (Arizona State); 17. Charlie Palmer (Princeton); 18. Nicholas Prieto (Arizona State); 20. Ryder Cowan (Oklahoma); 21. Tommy Morrison (Texas); 22. Rocco Salvitti (Notre Dame); 26. Kush Arora (Stanford); 27. Aaron Pounds (Texas A&M); 29. Mason Snyder (Loyola Marymount); 30. Max Herendeen (Illinois); 31. Adam Miller (New Mexico); 33. Jake Wieler (Elon); 35. Cayden Pope (Auburn); 42. Hans Risvaer (Central Florida).

Class of 2023 Golfweek/Sagarin Girls' Rankings (College)
2. Kiara Romero (Oregon); 4. Kaitlyn Schroeder (Alabama); 5. Bailey Shoemaker (USC); 8. Katie Li (Duke); 12. Macy Pate (Wake Forest); 14. Jaclyn LaHa (Virginia); 18. Farah O'Keefe (Texas); 20. Reagan Sutherland (North Carolina); 29. Frances Kim (USC); 31. Brooke Rivers (Wake Forest); 35. Karen Tsuru (Oregon); 37. Sophie Linder (Ole Miss); 39. Sky Sudberry (Texas A&M); 49. Ashely Yun (Northwestern).

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TRAVIS VICK MAKES THE CUT AT CADENCE BANK HOUSTON OPEN: Travis Vick, who helped Texas to the NCAA Championship last spring, enjoyed a successful week at the PGA TOUR's Cadence Bank Houston Open on Sunday afternoon at Memorial Park Golf Course, tying for 39th place with a four-round score of even-par 280 (68-69-71-72). The lone amateur in the 132-player field, Vick made the 68-player weekend cut with a 36-hole score of 3-under-par 137 (68-69).

It marked the second straight week that Vick participated in a PGA TOUR event, as he competed in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba but failed to make the cut.

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BRIAN STARK TRANSFERS TO TEXAS: Former Oklahoma State All-American Brian Stark announced on Monday via Instagram that he's transferring to Texas where he'll be able to compete for the Longhorns beginning in the spring. Stark was a third-team All-American for the Cowboys as a junior last season but didn't qualify for Oklahoma State’s first two events of the fall.

“I just hadn’t really enjoyed it,” Stark told Brently Romine of GolfChannel.com of recent months at Oklahoma State. “I had been struggling with being super happy there. I put stress on myself already, and then I feel like the way they coach and the way they do things, nothing against them – Coach Bratton and Coach [Donnie] Darr have done a lot for me – but it humbles players rather than builds some players up. It worked well for Eugenio [Chacarra] and Matt Wolff and those guys, but that’s not the way I really like being coached, and that’s why I feel like Texas and Coach Fields will be really good for me.”

Stark shared this on his Instagram post: "I will never forget my time as a Cowboy and will always be grateful for the opportunities I was given. I personally needed to make a change to refuel my fire to compete at the highest level and believe the University of Texas is a perfect fit for me."

According to Romine, part of Stark's motivation to transfer partly revolved around PGA Tour University. Romine noted that Stark is currently 13th in points, a few spots outside of the top 10, which would come with conditional Korn Ferry Tour status at season’s end (the top 5 get full KFT cards next summer and a ticket to final stage of PGA Tour Q-School next December). But with just 11 counting events, and with the minimum requirement being 18, Stark needs to play.

Stark is a welcomed addition to John Field's team which is feeling the graduation losses of stalwarts Cole Hammer and the Coody twins, Parker and Pierceson, off last year's NCAA Championship team. In addition to Stark, early signee Tommy Morrison will be eligible to compete in the spring.



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KEEPING IN THE SPIRIT OF NLI DAY...OUR TWEET OF THE WEEK

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VANDERBILT AND STANFORD TOP GOLFWEEK/SAGARIN RANKINGS: The Vanderbilt Commodores and Stanford Cardinal ended the fall season where they began, as the top-ranked teams in the country as listed by Golfweek/Sagarin.

Vanderbilt closed out the fall with a win at the prestigious East Lake Cup, which was the Dores third win of the season following team titles at the Frederica Cup and SEC Preview. Stanford also ran the table in the fall, picking up wins at the Carmel Cup, Stephens Cup, Stanford Intercollegiate and the Pac-12 Preview.

Here's a look at the current top-10 teams in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings:

Men: 1. Vanderbilt; 2. Arizona State; 3. Auburn; 4. North Carolina; 5. Stanford; 6. Texas Tech; 7. Tennessee; 8. Virginia; 9. Oklahoma; 10. Texas A&M. Complete rankings here

Women: 1. Stanford; 2. Wake Forest; 3. Texas A&M; 4. South Carolina; 5. Oregon: 6. San Jose State; 7. Ole Miss; 8. Texas; 9. Mississippi State. 10. Virginia. Complete rankings here

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LONG BEACH STATE NAMES ROB MURRAY HEAD COACH: Long Beach State announced the hiring of Rob Murray as the 12th head coach of the 49ers' men's golf program. Murray comes to Long Beach State after having worked as an assistant coach at Kansas State for the last six seasons where he coached five Academic All-Americans, led the team to their eighth NCAA Regional appearance in school history, and their first since 2009. While at K-State, Murray helped guide the team to six top-five finishes a year ago as they boasted the second-lowest stroke average in program history.

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HARRISON CROWE TO PLAY IN AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Recent Asia-Pacific Amateur champion Harrison Crowe has accepted an invitation to play in the Australian Open at the Victoria Golf Club in Cheltenham, Victoria, Australia, Dec. 1-4. The Aussie's win last month at the Asia-Pacific Amateur put him into the fields for the Masters at Augusta National next April and the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in July, 2023.

“I can’t wait to get to Melbourne,” said Crowe. “I played in the Open in 2019 (at The Australian), and I was out of my depth in such a big event. But it was an awesome experience for me seeing some of those big guys up close.

“This time around I feel good and I feel like my game is good enough to contend. It’s going to be awesome to get amongst the big crowds again, and hopefully, I get to pick the brains of Cam Smith, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and these kinds of guys.”

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PATRIOT ALL-AMERICA FIELD TAKING SHAPE: The Patriot All-America Invitational, which features PING All-Americans from the previous season in NCAA Divisions I, II and III, as well as All-Americans from the NAIA, NJCAA and AJGA ranks, will take place from Dec. 27-31 at The Wigwam Golf Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz.

Some of the men's players who have committed to play include Owen Avrit (Oregon), Jackson Buchanan and Piercen Hunt (Illinois), Stephen Campbell, Jr. and Jaxon Dowell (Oklahoma), Jackson Chandler (Ohio State), Caden Fiorini (UNLV) Bartley Forrester (Georgia Tech), Angelo Marcon and Palmer Jackson (Notre Dame), Leo Oyo (Oklahoma State), Chase Sienkiewicz (Arizona), Preston Summerhays (Arizona State), Jackson Van Paris and Wells Williams (Vanderbilt).

Notable names in the women's field include the Texas contingent of Tiffany Cao, Angela Heo and Bohyun Park, Ashleigh Park and Brianna Chacon (Oregon), Sadie Englemann (Stanford), Lauren Gomez and Kaleiya Romero (Pepperdine), Caley McGinty (Ohio State), Caitlyn Macnab (TCU), Antonia Malate (San Jose State), Ashely Menne and Grace Summerhays (Arizona State) and Zoe Slaughter (Texas A&M).

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TOURNAMENTS TO WATCH:

The Nomura Cup; Nov. 15-17; Manila Southwoods Golf & Country Club; Philippines
The Nomura Cup, also known as the Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Team Championship, is back on the international amateur golf calendar for the first time since 2017 after postponements due to the 2019 Hong Kong protests and the Covid-19 pandemic. The inaugural event was held in 1963 as a tri-nation tournament in the Philippines when the host nation took on Japan and China. Recent editions have attracted more than 20 nations, featuring teams of four players. The tournament is held over four days with 18 holes of stroke play on each day, the best three daily rounds counting for the team score. The tournament has been dominated by Australia, who have won the Cup 10 times and Japan, who are seven-time winners.

Women's Amateur Latin America; Nov. 17-20; Pilar Golf Club; Buenos Aires, Argentina
The best amateur golf players from South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean will take part in the second edition of the Women's Amateur Latin America Championship, organized by The R&A and the ANNIKA Foundation. A total of 13 countries will be represented, including Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The winner will receive an exemption into three major championships in 2023 – the AIG Women´s Open, The Amundi Evian Championship and The Chevron Championship. Valery Plata of Colombia won the inaugural event last year at Pilar Golf Club.

The Gobbler Amateur; Nov. 20-23; Sewailo Golf Club; Tucson, Ariz.
Part of the Saguaro Amateur Series, the Gobbler Amateur attracts mostly college players from some of the top universities west of the Mississippi. Ryan Meyer of Arizona won last year's Gobbler in a playoff over teammate Santeri Lehesmaa.

Rolex Tournament of Champions; Nov. 19-23; TPC San Antonio - Canyons Course The Rolex Tournament of Champions hosted at TPC San Antonio features 144 of the best boys and girls junior golfers in the world from around the world. 2022 AJGA Players of the Year Eric Lee and Kaitlyn Schroeder are both in the field, as is reigning ANWA champion Anna Davis and U.S. Girls' Junior champion Yana Wilson and runner-up Gianna Clemente.

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