NCAA facing tough decisions if bad weather continues

Alabama's Cory Whitsett and Oklahoma State's Talor Gooch walk to the seventh tee during Round 1 of the NCAA Men's Division 1 Championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.

Men's Rankings »

RankNameSchoolRating
1Patrick RodgersStanford  68.39 
2Robby SheltonAlabama  68.58 
3Ollie SchniederjansGA Tech  68.62 
4Cameron WilsonStanford  68.90 
5Joey GarberGeorgia  69.19 

Men's Team Rankings »

RankNameRatingEvents
1Alabama 68.96  12 
2Georgia Tech 69.62  12 
3Stanford 69.70  12 
4Oklahoma State 69.82  13 
5Georgia 69.82  12 

It’s never easy when you have to make tough decisions. Over the next 36 hours some tough decisions are going to have to be made here at Prairie Dunes Country Club – site of the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Championship.

Inclement weather allowed only half the field to get started on Friday. Many teams never even made it to the course.

The event is first class and now with Golf Channel on site, it’s on the bigger stage college golf advocates have wanted for years. However, the event now has the feel of high school gym class, meaning that you have to complete a game or contest in a very tight window of time. Remember those whiffle ball games where your team was scheduled to get their next-ups but the bell rang and you had to rush off to English class?

This year’s championship was scheduled to complete 54 holes by day’s end on Sunday. Monday is an individual-only day with the low 40 and ties competing in a final round to crown the individual champion. The individual day is new to the men’s championship since match play was introduced. Match play, which has been used to crown the team champion since 2009, is scheduled to start on Tuesday with the quarterfinals and semifinals. The championship match is set for Wednesday.

After a lap around the back nine on a hot and steamy Saturday afternoon here in Hutchinson, there are many coaches concerned with what might happen in the next couple of days.

With more weather issues possible later Saturday and on Sunday, avoiding falling further behind schedule is going to be difficult. There is even speculation circulating around Prairie Dunes that if weather strikes again, the stroke-play portion could be limited to 36 holes. The NCAA Championship committee isn't ready to go that far, simply saying they are trying to get as much golf in as possible to get back on schedule.

But a different doomsday solution seems easy, at least to the folks that have whispered their two cents worth. Use Monday to finish the stroke-play qualifying for the 30 teams, don’t worry about the individual day, which some have already labeled the most awkward day in college golf. Televise the ending of the third round of stroke play, which is arguably the most exciting day in college golf. This would allow match play to start on Tuesday as scheduled. Of course that is provided the weather is not a bigger issue.

If having the individual day on Monday is so important - which it is not because they play 54 holes all year anyway - here is a thought: How about announce a 36-hole cut to 16 teams and those 16 play match play on Sunday afternoon and into the evening and possibly into Monday morning if needed. Resume with the individual day as scheduled on Monday then pick up with the eight teams on Tuesday with the final match on Wednesday.

We know that second scenario is highly unlikely – OK, impossible. But this is a team competition and all efforts to play 54 holes to determine the eight that play match play should be made.

TCU junior Julien Brun reinforced the importance of team. Brun qualified as an individual to play this week, but elected to use a sponsor’s exemption he was given to compete at the Crowne Plaza Invitational on the PGA Tour. Had his team qualified, he would have been here.

College golf has been manufactured into a team sport. If needed, the quiet whispers hope that the team aspect trumps the individual part and the individual day is the one that can be used as the built-in starter’s time.

With teams now starting their second round, there is a feeling of uncertainty amongst the 30-team field. But, one thing is for certain, you had better play the best you can because you may not have a third round.

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