Bulldogs still strong without Charleston win

I’ve been getting a kick out of all the fuss and comments concerning Georgia playing – and winning – this week’s Wendy’s Charleston Challenge. In particular, all those who say the Bulldogs competed in the event against smaller programs just so they could pad their won-loss record to ensure postseason eligibility under the .500 rule.

I will agree that Georgia doesn’t have – at least so far – a dominating team like those Bulldogs squads ofthe past 10-12 years. But I’ve known head coach Chris Haack a long time and truly don’t feel that he has the .500 rule first and foremost on his list of what he wants his team to accomplish.

photo

Russell Henley, pictured at the 2009 NCAA Championship, won the Wendy's Charleston Shootout.

The Bulldogs continue to play one of the strongest schedules in the country. No, they haven’t been a dominant force, but with top-6 finishes at the Brickyard, Isleworth and Puerto Rico, they haven’t been exactly shabby either.

Georgia still is No. 25 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and the Bulldogs had a 37-27-3 overall record going into the Charleston event, where they won by 20 shots and picked up 14 head-to-head wins.

Haack had two extra competition days among the 24 allotted by the NCAA. With most tournaments already filled, I believe he was just trying to find one he could play to fill out his schedule – and at a late date.

Tournament co-hosts Charleston Southern or College of Charleston likely had no problem with slipping the Bulldogs into their field when they received Haack’s call. Who wouldn’t want a program that has won a pair of NCAA championships and been a perennial Division I powerhouse in their field?

And here’s the thing: When the NCAA put the .500 rule into effect for 2007-08, the smaller programs were overjoyed. They figured this would help them either get into bigger tournaments or woo some larger programs to compete in their events.

That is exactly what has happened. And that’s a good thing for college golf, The smaller programsget to compete against the big boys and their players get to see where they stack up.

A lot of teams have done the same thing Georgia did by playing in Charleston. Yet the Bulldogs seem to be getting all the flak.

Give me a break, and then look at Georgia’s schedule the rest of the spring. It’s as tough as just about anyone’s.

Even so, I seriously doubt that when it’s NCAA postseason selection time that the 14 wins in Charleston will be the difference as to whether or not Georgia is above .500.

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