Louisville, Oklahoma advance via new tiebreaker

By Ryan LavnerMay 30, 2016, 3:08 am

EUGENE, Ore. – There is a new way to sort out the 54-hole cut at the NCAA Championship, and not every coach left Eugene Country Club on Sunday night pleased with the outcome.

The top 15 teams after three rounds of stroke play advanced to Monday’s final round, after which the individual champion will be crowned and the field cut to eight teams for the match-play bracket.

After 54 holes, five teams tied for 14th place at 27-over 867 – Louisville, Oklahoma, TCU, Clemson and Georgia – but only two are moving on.

In a new format tweak this year, the NCAA said that the tiebreaker for the top 15 teams would not be decided by a team playoff, as it often the case. Instead, the cumulative throw-out score for the three rounds would be used to determine which teams advanced. In college golf, teams send out five players and count only the four best scores each round.

And so, in this scenario, the cumulative throw-out scores of Louisville (20 over) and Oklahoma (24) were slightly better than TCU (25), Clemson (27) and Georgia (27).

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“Gosh, these kids come all this way, when they found out it was a card playoff, basically it was like, ‘What?’” Georgia coach Chris Haack said. “But it is what it is, you have to deal with it, and it’s our fault for not shaving off one more shot.”

The NCAA said Sunday night that coaches were notified of the format change last summer in the Division I Men's Golf Committee annual report, at the GCAA National Convention in December and were reminded again during the coaches meeting on Thursday. The decision also appeared in the NCAA handbook.

Asked why the decision was made to use the fifth-man score instead of a team playoff, Eric Sexton, chairman of the NCAA men’s golf committee, said there were three reasons: It is important to use the entire five-man team when determining which squad advances; it helps avoid the scenario of a multi-team playoff (such as this year); and the plan is not for individual years but a series of championships, and many times the circumstances (weather, amount of daylight) are different from year to year.

Said TCU coach Bill Montigel, whose team did not advance under the new system: “It puts a little incentive on your fifth man to go out there and keep fighting and not give up. If your fifth man didn’t play well, you don’t make it. I kind of like it.”

TCU’s Paul Barjon missed a 5-footer on the final hole that would have put the Horned Frogs inside the number at 26 over par. On the same hole, Florida State’s Josh Lee burned the edge on an 8-footer that would have tied the Seminoles at 27 over; they would have advanced via the tiebreaking formula.

Houston finished one shot off the cut line, in a tie for 19th, but coach Jonathan Dismuke said he still wasn’t a fan of the format change. 

“These guys play a lot of golf over the course of the year,” he said, “and anybody that is 15th place or better, you deserve a chance to play the final round. It’s a shame.”

Only nine shots separate the all-important eighth spot and a tie for 14th, meaning that one of those teams that missed out could have posted a low round Monday and reached match play.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.