Reasons why the women’s game is changing

Texas A&M junior Sarah Zwartynski is hugged by her teammates after sinking the putt to win the Big 12 Championship.

Texas A&M junior Sarah Zwartynski is hugged by her teammates after sinking the putt to win the Big 12 Championship.


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The NCAA Women’s Golf Committee will announce Monday the 72 teams that will be invited to postseason play and to which regional site each team will be sent.

I expect some grumbling. Why? The women’s game is becoming more competitive at the deeper levels. Sure, we have never really seen an underdog team win it all, but we are starting to see teams able to compete with the top tier more than ever before.

Do you need an example?

Duke, South Carolina and East Carolina played a 36-hole tournament this past week. Duke is one of the top teams in college golf and South Carolina is within the top 30. The Pirates are outside the top 50, but guess what? East Carolina beat South Carolina by three shots and Duke by nine.

The magic number was reduced by one last weekend when Harvard placed third at the Ivy League Championship. Penn won the Ivy’s AQ, making it a total of 11 conferences that needed the AQ to get into the 72-team postseason field.

It is almost certain that Harvard will be one team where there will be a difference in the Golfstat (official NCAA ranking) and Golfweek/Sagarin numbers. In the latest Golfweek numbers, Harvard dropped from 57th to 66th after finishing 25 shots behind Penn and three shots behind Yale on Sunday. This puts them outside of the magic number, according to Golfweek’s rankings, and would keep the number at 62. However, Harvard will most likely be well inside the cut line, according to Golfstat’s rankings, and two Ivy League schools will advance to regional play. This will make the official magic number 61.

Looking into the future, the women’s .500 Rule would place South Carolina (71-77-2), Kent State (75-78-1), Washington (63-77-1), Ole Miss (81-86-2) and North Carolina State (55-83-1) below the winning head-to-head, won-loss record mark at the end of the season. That would be a total of five teams that would not qualify.

One thing is sure: Change is coming. The women’s postseason field increase by nine spots this season, a decision that was long overdue in order to balance the tee sheet at regional play - having 24 teams at each as opposed to 21 is not that big of a deal. Teams we don’t expect to beat powerhouses are starting to win golf tournaments (i.e.: Florida State).

Whether it be guideline or format changes, or simply when it comes down to who is winning - the women’s game is changing.

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