The BYU men’s golf team on Wednesday advanced to the NCAA Championship for the first time in the match-play era. That led to officials making a unique tweak to the format.
The Mormon-run school prohibits play on Sunday for all of its sports teams. That creates a scheduling issue at the NCAA Championship, because the third round of stroke-play qualifying is set for Sunday, May 27.
The NCAA must provide an accommodation for any school that cannot compete on a particular day for religious reasons, so this is the schedule change: BYU will now play its team practice round at Karsten Creek on Wednesday, May 23, before the start of the final match of the NCAA Women’s Championship. The next day, the Cougars will play their third round 30 minutes after the other 29 teams conduct their official practice round.
All five BYU players will be sent off individually, alongside a walking scorer and a rules official who will serve as a marker. Their third-round scores will then be posted to the live-scoring site.
Other coaches and players will be allowed to watch BYU compete from outside the ropes, and it’s expected that every team will have at least have some sort of representation that day – they’d be getting a look at the third-round hole locations.
Ranked 39th in the country, BYU played its last two rounds in 20 under par to tie for second at the Norman, Okla., regional. Both Patrick Fishburn and Peter Kuest finished inside the top 5 individually.
It’s the first time that the BYU men have qualified for the NCAA Championship since 2005-06, but this exact scenario played out two years ago for the BYU women. At Eugene Country Club it turned out to be a non-issue – BYU shot 34 over par and finished last among the 24 teams in the field in stroke-play qualifying.
BYU’s individual qualifier this year, Rose Huang, played her practice round Wednesday at Karsten Creek and will play to the Sunday pins for her official round on Thursday.
The accommodation generates the usual questions about competitiveness fairness, especially with the unpredictable Oklahoma weather: What if the conditions are calm on Thursday, but rainy with 35-mph winds on Sunday for the rest of the field? What if the opposite occurs?
BYU women’s coach Carrie Roberts summed it up best two years ago: “We’re just grateful that the NCAA is going to accommodate us and give us a chance.”