The Southland is home to some of the strongest college golf programs in the nation, and this year, a lot of Southern California's top high school players are making the jump to that next level as Bruins, Trojans, etc. Here's how the teams stack up to start the season.
Clearly the program with the strongest history, UCLA will definitely have some new faces this season after losing the nation's top-ranked player in Patrick Cantlay, as well as team members Mario Clemens and Alex Shi Yup Kim. However, 2011 SCGA Match Play Champion Anton Arboleda returns, after leading the field in the opening round of the 2012 NCAA Championships at Riviera CC, as well as second team All American Pedro Figueiredo. California high school golf fans will recognize some familiar faces to the Bruins' lineup, as SCGA Tournament regular Jake Knapp (pictured) of Costa Mesa and Jonathan Garrick of San Francisco lead a crew of five quality freshman joining this year's squad.
After making it to the NCAA Championships in 2011, and hosting the festivities, USC will look to once again make a run at a national championship. Losing just one member of the 2011-12 team, Steve Lim, who has since graduating turned professional, the Trojans will look to veterans Jeffrey Kang and Anthony Paolucci, the nation's top recruit in 2011, to keep te team's momentum going. The team also snagged three of the Southland's best recruits in Yi Keun Chang from Walnut, Michael Moorhead from Newport Beach and Andrew Levitt of Rancho Santa Margarita.
San Diego State
The biggest surprise for San Diego State this offseason was when Xander Schauffele, formerly of Long Beach State and this year's runner-up at the SCGA Amateur Championship, decided to transfer down South and join the Aztecs. He will be joining a program, however, that loses a number of key players, including Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Alex Kang, as well as key contributors J.J. Spaun, Colin Featherstone and Matt Hoffenberg. Tom Berry is the key guy returning to the lineup, having made it to the quarterfinals of the 2012 NCAA Championship at Riviera. The changes give recruits Austin Kaiser, Michael Koeneke and Gunn Yang a chance to get some starts.
After a disappointing 2011-12 season, things didn't help when All Big West Freshman of the Year Xander Schauffele decided to transfer to San Diego State this offseason. In addition, All Big West players Kevin Lim and Kevin Roy graduated, leaving top-player Phillip Chian with little support heading into his senior season. One addition to the team, however, is Chian's younger brother, Daniel, who will be a freshman this coming season.
Last season is not one the Pepperdine men's golf team wants to look back on. For the first time since the 1998 season, the team failed to make it to the NCAA Regionals. They will look to turn the page without All-American Honorable Mention golfer Josh Anderson, who graduated earlier this summer and is currently pursuing a career as a professional golfer. Coach John Geiberger did put together a strong recruiting class, however, to support Johnny MacArthur, who is returning for his senior season. Hager Collins will become a wave, after winning the Kentucky State High School title with his high school team in 2011. Joining him will be Cody McManus, who finished in the top 5 as a junior and senior at the Arizona High School State Championship, and Frederick Wedel, who was ranked the 37th top high school golfer for the class of 2012.
This up-and-coming program has one thing going for them this season, they keep their entire squad from last year. They return rising-junior Allan Jun, who was last year named to the conference's first team, and Ryan Knapp, brother of UCLA-bound Jake Knapp, who has had a strong summer and recently finished in second place at the Costa Mesa City Championship.