No. 2 Oregon men’s golf climbs the polls after hot start

Oregon men’s golf is now ranked in the top five of all three national polls after its best start since 2011.

The Ducks received five first-place votes in last week’s Golf Coaches Association of America Coaches Poll, climbing 11 spots from their previous ranking to No. 3. Golfstat’s rankings have Oregon at No. 2, while the Ducks are No. 5 in the Golfweek’s Sagarin ratings.

Oregon is one of just two teams that have won three tournaments this fall. Top ranked University of Illinois is the only other program that has accomplished that feat, but Illinois has already played in four tournaments while Oregon has maintained a perfect record through its first three outings.

Two of the teams Oregon topped in wins, UCLA and USC, have two tournament wins of their own, noticeably boosting Oregon’s strength of schedule. Golfweek ranked Oregon’s schedule at No. 19, while Golfstat placed Oregon’s comparative record at No. 3, overall.

“They really want to compete against the elite level teams,” head coach Casey Martin said. “We’re grateful that we are off to a good start.”

It’s just the second time in program history that Oregon has won three fall tournaments, marking a significant change of pace for the younger Ducks.

“It’s different from my first years when we kind of struggled as a team for a majority of our tournaments,” junior Brandon McIver said. “It’s nice to come out confident that we can do really well and prove to everyone that we have the potential and the talent along with the coaching staff to take this season and make the most of it.”

McIver is just one part of a now-experienced group of Oregon golfers that have not only carried the team up the leaderboards, but to victories over quality opponents.

Sophomore Thomas Lim leads the team with a 70.11 stroke average, while junior Zach Foushee is second with a 71.89 average and freshman Hurly Long comes in third at 72.11. McIver is tied with freshman Aaron Wise for fourth on the team with a 72.22 average.

Lim’s performance has attracted plenty of national attention. Golfweek ranked Lim No. 20 in the individual collegiate poll, making him the Pac-12′s third best golfer.

“I really want to start competing with teams like Texas and Oklahoma State and Alabama because those schools in their conferences are always powerhouses,” Lim said. “That’s where we need to be to have a chance at a national championship.”

With only three events under their belts, there is a lot of time for the Ducks to climb even higher in the polls, or fall out of relevance.

The Ducks will look to solidify their spot in the rankings as they head to Hawaii this week for the first annual Ka’anapali Classic Nov. 7-9 for the final event before their midseason break. The tournament will pit them against multiple competitive west coast programs as well as No. 25 Clemson.

Pac-12 play will ramp up in February when Oregon heads to California and Arizona before returning home for the Duck Invitational at the Eugene Country Club March 23-24.

Follow Josh Schlichter on Twitter @joshschlichter

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