For those of you who wake up each September 1st, hoping that the NCAA football committees have seen the light and created a playoff system to decide the national champion, I’m sorry to tell you that golf beat them to it. A few years back, the NCAA golf committees decided that regional qualifying and four rounds of stroke play did not present a stern enough challenge to decide a national champion in men’s golf. They decided to separate the top eight teams and have them battle it out at match play. This changed the nature of the event quite a bit.
To begin, all five players would count in quarter, semi and final matches. The high round would no longer be tossed out, demanding each team member’s complete attention. Next, your position in the three-round medal portion of the event gave you no advantage beyond playing a weaker team if you finished high enough. I’m here to tell you that in 2011, the top seed (UCLA) after stroke play went down to defeat in the first round of match play, losing three of five matches to Duke. The number two team, Georgia Tech, also lost 3 of 5 matches to fall to defending champion Augusta State. So, playing great in stroke play earns no advantage. The seeding also faltered at the 4 vs. 5 level, as Georgia overcame Illinois by the same 3-1-1 score as the other two matches. Oklahoma State, the runner-up in 2010 to Augusta State, survived a relentless Ohio State team to move on to the semifinals.
To stay abreast of all the birdies and eagles (and others) click here to visit the official NCAA men’s golf championship website.