The cold rain that made Rich Harvest Farms so difficult in the opening round of the NCAA Championship Friday turned into an outright deluge Saturday forcing a few changes by tournament officials.
Although a few players made it out on the course, play was ultimately washed out for the day. That means the scheduled 72-hole individual championship and qualifying for match play will be reduced to 54 holes.
However, the cut to 15 teams and nine individuals from non-advancing teams that was scheduled to occur following Sunday’s third round will not happen. That comes as good news for some of the top teams which had trouble handling Friday’s tough conditions.
The individual champion should be crowned Monday and the eight teams making match play should be set. With the entire 24-team field and individuals teeing it up Monday though, that might leave precious little time to resolve any playoffs, whether for the individual title or for that coveted eighth spot that will round out the match-play field.
Florida, No. 3 in the latest Golfstat rankings, is in 16th place after an opening-round 320 Friday. No. 9 Furman is 18th at 323. No. 8 Duke and No. 5 Florida State are tied for 19th at 325. No. 2 Alabama is in 21st place at 328.
The team holding down what would be the eighth and final spot in match play after the first round is none other than North Carolina and freshman Brynn Walker, the two-time PIAA Class AAA champion at Radnor. The No. 35 Tar Heels carded a 314 in the opening round. They have the lowest ranking of any team in the top eight.
But rankings and seedings don’t mean a thing at this point. Some pretty good teams would have been left behind had the cut to 15 happened as scheduled. When it comes down to the eight that will open match play Tuesday, there are going to be more than a few teams thinking they should be there as they watch the matches play out on The Golf Channel.
The Golf Channel coverage will begin with Monday’s windup of individual play and team qualifying for match play.
I’m certain Alabama, for instance, is totally confident it can make up the 14 shots that separate It from eighth-place North Carolina in 36 holes.
Big Ten power Northwestern holds the top spot after the Wildcats put together a 13-over 301 that, considering the conditions, was a spectacular round.
The last two Big Ten individual champions, 2016 winner August Kim, a senior at Purdue from St. Augustine, Fla., and 2017 winner Elodie Van Dievoet, a sophomore at Michigan from Belgium, share the individual lead after each carded an even-par 72 over the 6,343-yard, par-72 Rich Harvest Farms layout.
And it wasn’t all just the weather that made the scores so high Friday. From all reports, Rich Harvest Farms is a tough golf course even in benign conditions.
So a long year of Division I women’s golf is coming down to a 36-hole shootout to determine an individual champion and eight teams that will battle it out for the national championship in match play. Should be fascinating.