Wildman's Walk: Disappointed in marquee group
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Another day at NCAA Championships is in the books and Friday had plenty of fun tales to tell.
Without further delay, here is Friday's edition of Wildman's Walk:
NCAA Women's Championship (Round 3)
View images of today's weather delayed round at the Women's NCAA Championship in Texas.
• I was really excited when I looked at the pairings for the third round. UCLA's Stephanie Kono was paired with Purdue's Maude-Aimee LeBlanc and LSU's Megan McChrystal. Unfortunately, this pairing did not live up to expectations.
Complete Postseason Coverage
Click here for Golfweek's Complete Coverage from the women's NCAA Championship and all six men's regionals.
Due to darkness the three players couldn't finish their round, but they did get through 15 holes. Through the 15 holes, the three players were a combined 16-over par. Kono shot 8 over, LeBlanc 3 over and McChrystal, who won on this course at the Preview in the Fall, is currently at 5-over. Today's marquee group which was playing in the largest event of the collegiate season, fell short of providing exciting golf to watch at the championship.
• At 3:30pm this afternoon play was suspended for nearly two hours because of lightning in the area. After the horn blew, shuttles were running to get players and spectators to safe houses. Alongside colleagues Lance Ringler and Beth Ann Baldry, I was whisked away to the patio of Texas A&M women's basketball coach Gary Blair for the delay.
Blair coached the Aggies to an NCAA title this year when they defeated Notre Dame in Indianapolis. His refrigerator was well stocked with soft drinks, the couch was cozy, and his flat screen was on with ESPN. When I was walking back to the clubhouse after my walk, I caught up with Blair who wasn't home during the delay. I offered him a dollar when I told him I snagged a soft drink and he replied: "Don't worry about it, anytime you want one, grab it." After he saw me holding a dollar he quickly stated, "Nope, the drinks are there for you."
• Not all teams were able to finish play today and that's something nobody wanted to see or have happen. You can't control the weather, but the NCAA might be able to do something to help move the championship along more smoothly. What about a 54-hole cut?
This isn't meant to be disrepectful to those that have earned a spot here, but if you are 30 shots back heading into the final round, do you want to play another 18? I'm not suggesting a cut be made after 36 holes, however, a cut after 54 holes would seem to make more sense. In case weather is an issue again, then the NCAA and teams wouldn't have to feel pressured to rush a finish. Every team should be thrilled to be here, but most other golf championships have a cut, so why can't this one?
• A future challenge was made to the Wildman today by Florida sports information director Corey Sobers. A few days ago I Tweeted: "If there is anyone looking for a racquetball challenge let me know." Later that night Florida told me that a suitable challenger would be Sobers, who is a tennis player. Today, I introduced myself to Sobers while on my walk and told him that it looks like UF and UCF (my alma mater) might be able to add to the schools rivalry. No official match date was set, but the challenge was brought to the table and accepted.
• While I was on my walk today I couldn't help but notice how quiet the course was - again. Today the leaderboard on my iPhone was constantly refreshed to see how the home team Aggies were doing. This championship needs people at it and I was hoping the Aggies would play well enough to create some buzz. It's tough to say this, but there isn't much excitement here. In round three, the Aggies shot 14-over and are 14 shots back of leading UCLA. Texas A&M isn't in contention to win the title, but very well could finish third which would be a great accomplishment and a surprise to many. But will it help attendance on Saturday?
I'll be back out there on Saturday, watching UCLA and Purdue battle for the national title, I just hope I am not the only one out there watching it unfold.