Ga. Tech coach blasts recommended rule change


MILTON, Ga. – Georgia Tech just won its quarterfinal match in dramatic fashion, in extra holes, in front of its home fans. Ollie Schniederjans, the player who stuffed his approach to 3 feet to send the Yellow Jackets within one match of the NCAA Championship, could hardly contain his emotions on the green.

Next year, Tech would have to turn around in the next 30 minutes and play another match.

And that doesn’t sit particularly well with coach Bruce Heppler.

Earlier this week, the NCAA Championship Committee made a recommendation that will be presented to the Sports Management Cabinet in two weeks: They want to return the individual championship to 72 holes. That, however, means the quarterfinals and semifinals would be held on the same day, followed by the finals.

Changes recommended for NCAA individual event

“It’s wrong. The 54-hole deal is legitimate,” Heppler said Friday. “They’re dismissing the team thing again. It doesn’t make any sense.”

If this new proposal passes, the NCAAs would run Friday through Sunday with the 54-hole stroke-play qualifier, then cut to the low eight teams for match play. On Monday, the first day of TV coverage on Golf Channel, the low 40 individuals and ties would compete in the fourth and final round of stroke play to determine the individual champion. Then, on Tuesday, the top eight teams would square off in the quarterfinal matches, followed by the semis, with the finals to be held Wednesday.

The back-to-back matches Tuesday are what most trouble Heppler. In particular, he cited the 2009 NCAA Championship, the first year of match play, when Georgia upset Oklahoma State in an emotional Round 1 at Inverness, then couldn’t sustain the momentum in the afternoon and lost to Arkansas.

Heppler’s recommendation would be to add another day to the championship. So why isn’t that part of the proposal?

“Nobody’s thinking about it, I guess,” Heppler said. “We’ve got two weeks to fix it. I don’t see a need to add another 18 holes to the individuals to legitimize it, if that costs you have to play 36 holes a day for matches.”