Coaches enjoy move to match play, bigger stage

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BRADENTON, Fla. – Baylor coach Jay Goble should have been resting in advance of his team’s appearance in the NCAA Championship finals, but he couldn’t turn away from the TV. 

A replay of the Bears’ semifinal match against Duke was on late Tuesday. 

“I watched it until 12:40 last night,” Goble said. “I couldn’t get enough of it.”

This was a year of firsts for the women’s game. It was the first year that match play was used to determine the team champion; that the women and men played the NCAA Championship on the same course in back-to-back weeks; and that it aired live on Golf Channel. 

What a show. 

The quarterfinals at Concession featured a showstopper between top-seeded USC and Washington.

Then came the semifinals later that afternoon, when Duke and Baylor needed six extra holes to see which team moved on to the finals.

And then on Wednesday, for the first time in the match-play era, Stanford and Baylor needed extra holes to determine a winner. Mariah Stackhouse’s par on the first playoff hole gave the Cardinal a 3-2 victory. 

“The quality of golf that the nation just witnessed … I’m sure there’s a lot of people at home that can’t believe how good these guys are,” Stanford coach Anne Walker said. “They’re really good. And to have it showcased on a national stage, I think that’s a really big deal. It’s changed the championship a lot.”