Eight early season men's NCAA college events worth watching
29 Jan 2024
by Sean Melia of AmateurGolf.com
North Ranch Country Club will host the Southwestern Invitational to open the season
With the Southwestern Invitational kicking off this week, college golf is suddenly off and running. After Nick Dunlap put amateur golf into the mainstream last week with this PGA Tour win and his upcoming professional debut at Pebble Beach, college golf should draw a bit more attention.
Stanford's Michael Thorbjornsen is returning to compete for the Cardinal after a long layoff due to a back injury. He was exceptional in his competitive return in the DP World Tour's Dubai Desert Classic. He finished T11. The PGA Tour U race will certainly be interesting, as Thorbjornsen maintained his grip on the top spot. Christo Lamprecht is currently in second place and seems the most likely to challenge for the PGA Tour card.
Related: Southwestern Invitational preview and live scoring
On the team side, North Carolina and Vanderbilt started the fall season as the favorites to compete for the NCAA Championship. Auburn had an outstanding fall season, riding high after some of their individual players had great performances in the U.S. Amateur. Jackson Koivun reached the Quarterfinals and J.M Butler made the semi-finals.
The first eight weeks of the college season have some tournaments that will pit some of the best teams against each other.
Here are eight early-season events that are worth keeping an eye on this spring.
Date: Jan 29 - 31
2023 winner: Texas
The Southwestern Invitational was played at North Ranch Country Club in Westlake, Calif. It is the combination of two previously existing tournaments: the Southwestern Intercollegiate (started by USC in 1978) and the Jones Invitational (hosted by Pepperdine since 2014).
In 2023, the defending national champion, Texas, won the event. Pepperdine and Arizona State University rounded out the top three. Wake Forest's Michael Brennan shot 70-68-69 to win the individual title over Keaton Vo by one shot.
Amer Ari Intercollegiate:
Date: Feb 7-10
2023 winner: Cancelled
54-hole men's college tournament hosted by the University of Hawaii-Hilo. Team (best four scores out of five players) and individual competitions. Last year, extremely high winds canceled this 54-hole event at Hapuna Golf Course. Teams had started playing but never finished 18 holes. In order to make the long trip worth it, teams played head-to-head matches that did not count towards their national rankings.
Puerto Rico Classic:
Date: Feb. 11-13
2023 winner: Oklahoma
The Grand Reserve Golf Club is the site of this 54-hole men's college tournament hosted by Purdue University. Algot Kleen (East Tennessee State)shot 66-71-66 to win the individual title by three shots over Rafe Reynolds (South Carolina), Ben Lorenz (Oklahoma), and Maxwell Moldovan (Ohio State).
Date: Feb. 19-21
2023 winner: Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech battled at Sharks Tooth Golf Club last year with Vanderbilt winning the team event. The 54-hole men's college tournament is hosted by Florida State University in Panama City, Fla. Florida State's Frederik Kjettrup fired rounds of 66-67-65 to win the event by five shots over Gordon Sargent.
Date: Feb. 25-27
2023 winner: Illinois
In an event that often boasts one of the strongest fields of the spring, Illinois took home the title. The 2023 field had four of the top nine teams in the country. 54-hole men's college tournament hosted by UNLV at Southern Highlands Golf Club. Florida Gator Yuxin Lin 64-70-69.
Date: March 3-5
2023 winner: Vanderbilt
The University of Arkansas hosts this 54-hole collegiate event at Twin Dolphin Club in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Vanderbilt dominated in 2023 by 12 shots over Ole Miss. Wells Williams made it a Vanderbilt double after shooting 71-65-67 to win by an impressive five shots over a trio of Chase Sienkiewicz (Arizona), Frederik Kjettrup (FSU), Brett Schell (Old Miss).
Date: March 17-19
Alabama outlasted Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt to win the Linger Longer at Reynolds Lake Oconee - Great Waters (Eatonton, GA). Mercer University and Kennesaw State University host this strong event. The individual champion was Nick Dunlap, who faced down the likes of Christo Lamprecht, William Moll, and Gordon Sargent with rounds of 70-66-70.
Date: March 28-30
2023 winner: Oklahoma
Stanford University hosted this event in San Francisco at TPC Harding Park. Oklahoma nabbed the double as Ben Lorenz beat Christo Lamprecht by two shots.