College conferences mull match-play merits

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College conferences mull match-play merits

Forecaddie

College conferences mull match-play merits

Oklahoma State’s convincing victory over Alabama last month at Karsten Creek put an exclamation point on the 10th season of match play at the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship. In the past few years, three conferences also have adopted the format to determine their champions.

A fourth conference was close to joining the party next season, but The Forecaddie hears that won’t be happening.

Of the 31 Division I conferences with an automatic bid into regionals, only the Southeastern Conference, Sun Belt Conference and Conference USA use match play to determine who earns that bid each season. The Ohio Valley Conference planned on becoming the fourth and even got overwhelming support to make the switch from the current 54-hole stroke-play format.

The Man Out Front was informed that a vote was conducted at last season’s OVC Championship, which was won by Jacksonville State by five shots over runner-up Eastern Kentucky. Nine out of 11 coaches and 49 of 53 players were in favor of moving to match play.

But school athletic directors and administrators decided against it, citing a concern that match play would not crown the best team. They want the best team representing the conference at regionals so the conference has the best chance of making nationals.

As TMOF and others in tune with college golf know, match play doesn’t always crown the best team. This past season marked the first time that the top seed after stroke play had gone on to win the NCAA Championship.

With such strong support from coaches and players, some may scratch their heads at the decision. But The Forecaddie understands the concerns of the administrators who want to avoid a fluke champion.

The subject is scheduled to be re-visited in 2020. By then, there could be more conferences looking to make the switch, as well. Gwk

(Note: This story appears in the July 2018 issue of Golfweek.)

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