NCAA sets path for rest of men's championship
HUTCHINSON, Kan. – With inclement weather wreaking havoc on the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Championship, an already tight schedule has been rewritten.
Once all teams complete two rounds of play sometime Sunday afternoon, shotgun starts will help accelerate the schedule.
Teams that place 16-30 after 36 holes will be sent out Sunday afternoon following play. Those teams will likely have to finish play on Monday morning. Once teams 16-30 finish, teams 1-15 will have tee times off of Nos. 1 and 10.
The individual-only round with the top 40 and ties has been eliminated to assure teams can have a chance at playing 54 holes.
Teams had moved around the par-70, 6,941-yard Prairie Dunes Country Club from sunup to sunset Saturday. Nine teams had to return Sunday morning to complete Round 2. Fifteen more still had a second round to start – and another weather delay interrupted play.
PHOTOS: NCAA Championships (Saturday)
View images from a very long day of play on Saturday of the Men's NCAA Division 1 National Championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.
Nobody wanted to see 36 holes decide the eight teams that would advance to match play. The objective from the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship Committee was to have the 30-team field to play 54 holes. From there, the top eight teams would be slotted for match play.
The NCAA's announced plan is a solution, and a favorable one. Sure, nobody wants to play a shotgun start in a national championship, but it does allow for 54 holes, and that is what everyone wants.
The thought of two waves playing on two different days is odd, but it does happen on occasion.
One caveat to this new schedule is if play is unable to be completed in that window, all scores in that round will be declared null and void. In such a case, Round 3 will be repaired to include only teams 1-15 and the six low individuals not on those teams (based on non-sudden death tie breaking procedures) to determine the eight teams for match play and the individual champion.
Weather at Prairie Dunes is unpredictable, and those two waves could play under drastically different conditions – just as they could if there were morning and afternoon waves on the same day.
The Golf Channel still plans to televise Monday’s play. That will feature the individual race and the teams trying to find a way into match play. The third round has turned out to be perhaps the most exciting round in college golf and should make for great TV.
The individual winner has been crowned after 54 holes since 2009. For the past five years the individual winner has been decided in 54 holes. Those winners were worthy – N.C. State's Matt Hill (2009), Illinois' Scott Langley (2010), LSU's John Peterson (2011), Illinois' Thomas Pieters (2012) and Cal's Max Homa (2013).
There will be several teams that will not play at all Sunday.
Tuesday is scheduled for the quarterfinals and semifinals, with the championship match slated for Wednesday. This format was used in 2009, the first year of match play, at Inverness in Toledo, Ohio. The schedule was not well received then, so one match per day was played for the past four championships. However, in order to accommodate the individual-only round, something had to give, so this is the result. Weather issues have now forced the elimination of the individual round, but two rounds of match play are still scheduled for Tuesday.
For now, the plan is in place. Let’s just hope Mother Nature gets the memo.