In my many years around the women’s game, I can say without hesitation that today’s final rounds of regional play could have more twists and turns than a Vermont country road.
First off, the increase from 63 teams to 72 is proving to be a great move. Common sense and logic tells us this was good simply to balance the tee sheet, but of the last nine teams in the field, a couple have a real shot to advance – Iowa State and Colorado State. The Cyclones are in eighth place in the West and Colorado State is in 14th in the same regional and within reach.
While all three regionals have multiple teams that could come from outside the cut line to advance, I have never seen anything like the logjam in the West. Thirteen teams, from third place to 15th, are separated by 11 shots. I would say only leader Arizona and top-ranked UCLA are safe.
The East might look boring compared to the West, but that’s hardly the case. The difference between sixth and 13th is 12 shots and includes eight teams, with the most interesting team to watch being Wake Forest, the No. 3 seed. Diane Dailey’s squad is 10 shots back of eighth place and will be playing in the afternoon wave, meaning the Demon Deacons will know exactly what score they need to post in order to play in the national championship.
As for the Central, here’s what I am hearing: Great golf course and lousy course set-up. The course is over 6,400 yards and players are being forced to hit hybrids and 3-woods into most of the par 4s. Every par-5 is a three-shot hole, and the hole locations have been questionable with the club selection into those greens.
Factor in the breezy conditions and naturally you are going to have some upset players and coaches.
One argument you often hear is that everyone is playing the same conditions and there is no advantage –and I agree with that. Six of the top eight seeds are in the top eight after two rounds, so the best teams are still at the top, and we are not going to see a Ben Curtis/Todd Hamilton kind of major victory here.
But is it a good thing for college golf when we see a Division I player participating in the postseason shoot 100 and have nine more players who don’t break 90? I don’t think so. It kind of reminds me of a high school tournament. It’s not that difficult to set up a golf course where the best teams still win and the experience is still enjoyable for most.
Enjoy the day. It very likely could be the most exciting day in the history of women’s college golf.