Match play a different animal in college golf

Podcast episode

The Lance & Asher Show

The Lance & Asher Show (Ep. 2.15)

This week: The guys review some of the key victories from the week and try to answer one big question: Does Lance hate match play?

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In a recent Lance & Asher podcast, Asher said Washington can’t even win a match play event.

Asher was making reference to the recent Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship, where the No. 5-ranked Washington Huskies went 1-3 and placed 14th in the 16-team field.

Not to pick on Asher, but of course they can’t - or at least they won’t – very often. The best teams have a far greater chance of winning a stroke-play event. In my opinion, this is not even something that can be debated. We have yet to see the favorite win in any match play event during the last two years. In fact, a seed from the lower half of the field usually claims the title.

New Mexico was the 15th seed and beat the No. 8 seed Southern California in the final match. I have no doubt it was exciting for all involved. It was exciting last year when I was in Toledo, Ohio, for the NCAA Championship and watched Michigan beat Southern California, Texas A&M beat Arkansas and who could forget the Georgia/Oklahoma State match?

Match play is a completely different deal than stroke play. During the rest of this season, the Lobos were 1-8 in stroke-play events versus the four teams they defeated en route to winning the match play title. And the one win was by a single stroke.

Before I go any further and some of you want to call me a match play hater, I am not. I understand why the format change came about. Coaches were trying to do something – anything – to create some interest in college golf. They thought having a team vs. team format would help more people identify with the sport. Many say stroke play is boring for the booster, alumni or just common golf fan to understand and hard for them to figure out. And it upsets them that women’s softball and men’s lacrosse find television sets when those championship seasons come around.

Maybe match play will help, but is anyone seeing the needle move? Maybe more time is needed with this procedure of play. I don’t know, but what I do know is I can’t take these results seriously. It evens the playing field. Or does it?

I honestly think the reverse may be happening. I had said that it is coin flip, 50/50 on who wins. Well, the underdogs or lower seeds may even be better. This past week at the Match Play Championship there were 32 matches played. The worse seed won 21 times while the better seed won just 11 of the matches.

Washington is one of the best teams in the country and is more likely to win it all during 72 holes of stroke play. As for the Huskies’ match play chances, flip a coin ... wait, that may not be enough. Best two out of three flips?

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