NCAA Rules Change May End Masters of College Golf
It's been a late fall tradition that 30 of the nation's top male college golfers have looked forward to for 33 years, but a rule change by the NCAA may make the most recent showcase in November the last.
The NCAA eliminated the board responsible for deciding what college sporting events would be exempt from a rule that limits the number of playing days for student athletes. The El Paso tournament had previously been an exempt event for golfers.
For the golfers, the change means that they may have to choose between the El Paso tournament, a sort of all-star event, and regular-season team events that help their teams earn a shot at the national championship.
'One of my fondest memories as a college player was to be able to play in that tournament,' said Buddy Alexander, the men's golf coach at Florida. 'It's a travesty.'
Alexander was invited to the tournament's inaugural event and has consistently sent players to El Paso to represent the Gators as All-Americans.
To be invited to the Western Refining All-America Golf Classic players must be an All-American or Division II or III national champion. Organizers say that qualification ensures that the tournament is among the premier college golf events.
'Most of the golfers who end up here are going to end up on some kind of tour,' said Bernie Olivas, executive director of the Sun Bowl Association, which runs the tournament. 'They go up against the best.'
The NCAA e-mailed The Associated Press the rationale for the rule change. That document said the change would reduce students' travel and fatigue and lost class time. NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn declined further comment.
Past champions include Tiger Woods, David Duval, and Davis Love III. Tournament alumni have collected nearly $1 billion in winnings on professional tours.
Alexander, despite his fond memories of the tournament, said he would be hard pressed to let one his Gator golfers leave the team behind for the sake of the All-America Classic if the tournament isn't exempt.
'I am not going to give that (playing date) up for my best player,' Alexander said. 'I need to make the NCAA championship. That would be pretty tough for me.'
The tournament could be played during the summer, though Olivas said it may be difficult to attract the same level of talent because of completing Walker Cup events.
Arizona coach Rick LaRose said he hopes NCAA rules officials will see fit to grant the tournament a permanent exemption.
'It's the only individual event there is and it's a chance for these kids to have a reward for being an All-American,' LaRose said.
It's unclear exactly what prompted the rule change.
Olivas said he believes it was an effort to eliminate advantages for schools invited to high-profile events where a competitive advantage can be had. But the in the case of the El Paso tournament, he said, there is no such advantage, because invitations are based on All-American or champion status. And each school that sends a player is given a $1,000 scholarship.
Greg Grost, executive director the Golf Coaches Association of America, said the tournament is a victim of poor decision making.
'It's typical NCAA politics,' Grost said. 'We got thrown under the bus, in my opinion, because of apathy. We hope the Sun Bowl will be given its exemption back. There is no logical reason it shouldn't.'
A final decision is expected to be made sometime next year.
In the mean time, Olivas said he and the Sun Bowl Association will continue lobbying the NCAA for a permanent exemption.
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Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.