SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Since we final noticed NCAA championship golf 24 months in the past at the Blessings Golf Club in Arkansas, it’s been like standing in a really lengthy line for the most well liked new roller coaster at the theme park.
Fasten these seat belts and get settled in, as this yr’s NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club may have essentially the most twists and turns, ups and downs we could ever see.
Why? One may make a case for all 30 groups to make the 54-hole lower. From that time there would possibly really solely be a pair groups that will be a giant shock to advance to match play.
Twenty-three groups within the area are within the Golfweek/Sagarin top 30. A couple of of the groups not within the high 30 have all had massive moments this yr, exhibiting its very potential to have one other massive week to get them into the highest eight after 72 holes.
East Tennessee State is coming off a regional victory, that checks the field. In April TCU topped Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Texas Tech and North Carolina to win the Thunderbird Collegiate right here within the Desert. UAB had an undefeated fall season after which went 13-under within the closing spherical of the Noblesville Regional to make it to Grayhawk. Momentum may be a 15th membership within the bag for Oregon State, who led the Albuquerque Regional after two rounds.
Three mid-majors can be Cinderella tales this week, beginning with Sam Houston State’s story of getting to play with 4 gamers within the closing spherical to make it out of the Stillwater Regional. Little Rock went 4 underneath on the ultimate gap of regional play at the identical web site to advance. After beating the likes of New Mexico, Stanford and South Carolina, San Diego has the “why not us?” perception.
When it involves the golf course right here at Grayhawk, it’s a little bit of an unknown. The circumstances are close to excellent, however will the par 70, 7,289 yard-layout play arduous sufficient from tee-to-green to create separation?
If we don’t see that separation, it may very well be anyone’s week. The area is powerful at the highest with groups ranked Nos. 1-14 all right here this week.
However, when previewing the championship, you actually must view it as two tournaments: which crew wins stroke play and which crew wins match play.
No crew ranked worse than third has claimed stroke play victory because the championship moved to match play in 2009. So, that tells us the heavy favorites are Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Florida State. That suits this yr with how these three groups have been taking part in. In 31 tournaments, the trio have completed exterior the highest three simply seven instances, with Oklahoma State doing so 4 instances.
As for match play, completely completely different story. The No. 1 seed has gained only one time and that was Oklahoma State in 2018, taking part in by itself Karsten Creek Golf Course once they had been additionally the top-ranked crew in faculty golf. Texas (2012) and Alabama (2014) did win match play because the No. 1 ranked crew, however not No. 1 seed.
So, who wins match play? The common rating of the crew winner is 8.2. That after all is after the rankings are up to date from stroke play, however will fall in step with the likes of Pepperdine, North Carolina, Clemson, Wake Forest, Illinois and Arizona State.
This week stamps championship No. 21 for me relationship again to the 2001 finals when Nick Gilliam led Florida to the title at Duke University Golf Club. Since then the format has modified and the perfect crew often doesn’t take house the trophy, however the desk is about for a wild ride.
Hang on tight and anticipate something.
Full area by the rankings
Oklahoma State (2)
Florida State (3)
North Carolina (6)
Wake Forest (8)
Arizona State (10)
NC State (11)
Texas Tech (13)
San Francisco (21)
San Diego State (25)
Georgia Tech (26)
East Tennessee State (34)
Oregon State (39)
Little Rock (49)
San Diego (54)
Sam Houston State (56)