Fact or Fiction: Liz Murphey, OK State
It was an odd week in college golf with a few different scenarios that left me scratching my head. Let’s take a look at them in this week’s Fact or Fiction.
The results of the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic are confusing: Fact. Alabama won over the weekend . . . check that, I mean Florida really won over the weekend. Confused? At the Liz Murphey, there was a twist to the scoring. All five players from the same team played the same hole, and the best four scores for that hole counted. Only thing is, the Liz Murphey is the only one that recognizes the winner in this format. For Golfweek Rankings and results, it goes to the old standard scoring format of five count four. Alabama won the best-ball tournament by four shots over Duke, and Florida finished in fifth place in that format. However, in official scoring, the Gators actually won the event by two over Alabama. I understand that this format is creative and different, but what is the point? Alabama won in Georgia, but if you ask anyone else across the country, the Gators won this one.
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A non Pac-10 team will be favorite to win the Women’s NCAA Championship: Fiction. It was another 1-2-3 finish by Pac-10 teams at the Ping/ASU Invitational, with UCLA defeating crosstown rival USC by four shots and Arizona coming in third. Texas was the only non-Pac-10 team to finish in the top 7 and the Longhorns came in fourth. Purdue has been playing solid all spring, but even recently came in T-3 at the Liz Murphy. Currently, five of the top 10 teams in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings are Pac-10 teams. This year, those five teams have combined to win a total of 12 stroke-play tournaments. We have seen a familiar trend at NCAAs the past few years: At least two Pac-10 teams have been in the final group the past three years. I think the odds will be in favor of someone from the Pac-10 to win it this year.
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Oklahoma State is the best team in the country: Fact. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is more impressive than you think. With the Cowboys’ victory at the Insperity ASU Invitational, the Cowboys now have won back-to-back tournaments without top-ranked Peter Uihlein. Oklahoma State is deep, but to win twice in a row without the best amateur in the world says how great this team truly is. Many of us thought that ’Bama would put up a fight, since the Crimson Tide hasn’t lost a stroke-play tournament since last October, but Alabama came in fourth – 15 shots back of Oklahoma State. Clearly, the Cowboys have established themselves as the No. 1 stroke-play team in the country, and soon enough we will find out if they are the best match-play team as well.
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Match play will be the best way to determine an NCAA champion this year: Fiction. I’m convinced after this recent run by Oklahoma State that the Cowboys are the best team in the country. I don’t need to see them play three matches to determine it. All year long these teams play stroke-play tournaments and the Cowboys have won six out of nine events. At the last two national championships, Oklahoma State was the No. 1 overall seed heading in to match play because its scores proved it. Next, the Cowboys lost in a different format to two teams that they easily defeated in the stroke-play portion of the championship. I never will say the format at NCAAs is not exciting; I love it because it is fun and creates a buzz in college golf. However, in my opinion, it has failed to produce the best team in the field as the winner. If I have learned anything the past few years at nationals, it is that Oklahoma State is the best stroke-play team in the tournament. The only problem with that is you have to be great at match play as well. If Oklahoma State fails to win it all this year, I would have a tough time saying the best team truly won it all this year – and that’s a fact!