Happy Friday, ladies and gentlemen. We give you all permission to have a great day! Go on.
The big story of the week in golf has nothing to do with professional golf. Instead, it’s about a bad-turned-worse situation at a women’s NCAA regional tournament in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After the University Club, the host venue, took more than seven inches of rain over multiple days, the tournament was canceled on Wednesday without a shot being hit. The top-seeded six teams and three individuals were sent to the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships. Brad Hurlbut, the NCAA committee representative for the event, stood on the University Club stairs to make the announcement: “Even though the course is playable, it’s not playable at a championship level.”
If you’re hearing about this for the first time, you probably aren’t surprised. Seven inches of rain is a lot of water for a golf course, and if the course is unplayable, so be it.
But there are a couple of problems with that narrative. First, videos of the course show that many of the holes were quite playable. Some par 4s would have needed to become par 3s, but a par 67 or so could have been concocted for the tournament. According to Beth Ann Nichols, Tulsa coach Annie Young said on Wednesday afternoon, “It hasn’t rained all day. We could easily be through nine right now, maybe more.” An 18-hole qualifier would not have been ideal, but even one round is better than none. It’s even in the event manual that if 54 holes of qualifying cannot be completed, 36-hole scores should be used, then 18-hole scores.
The second problem with the NCAA’s case is that the championships don’t begin until May 21, nine days after the Baton Rouge regional was supposed to end. Seems like plenty of time to get in a full qualifier, right? But get this: because of stipulations imposed by the NCAA, all rounds had to be completed by Wednesday, and there is no flexibility. University of Houston coach Gerrod Chadwell told Nichols, “Zero effort was made to adjust as it became clear that the tournament couldn’t be played in a normal fashion.” Chadwell said that looking back, play really should have started on Sunday, before the majority of the rain came. “You find a way to get it done,” he said.
Bottom line, this stinks. The on-site committee failed. These women deserve a chance to earn their way into the NCAA Championship. Instead, they’ve been sent home. We get that running a tournament is difficult, especially when the weather doesn’t cooperate, but there were ways to make this regional work.
TPC Louisiana has offered up its course for a make-up regional, and Barstool Sports appears to be working on a tournament of its own for the teams that were left out to dry. Lovely gestures, but they shouldn’t have been necessary.
Live. Under. Par.
Shooting 68 on the PGA Tour is usually pretty good. A round of 67 is even better. But at TPC Craig Ranch, host of this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson, neither of those scores would get you in the top 20 after round one. With lift, clean, and place in effect on a gettable course, the birdie barrage was inevitable. Jordan Spieth and J.J. Spaun are tied for the lead after 63s, and Doc Redman (64), Aaron Wise (64), Sam Burns (65), and Sergio Garcia (65) are among the chasers. Leaderboard
Not that everyone hasn’t already been obsessing over Jordan Spieth’s every round, but it’s very much time to recognize him as one of the best players in the game again. He has spent nine straight PGA Tour rounds in the top 10, seven of those in the top four. On Thursday, he didn’t have a great day with his irons but was still 11th in Strokes Gained: Approach.
Jordan Spieth is back at the top of his game. Feels good to say.
The heavy hitters of the Korn Ferry Tour are out in force at the Visit Knoxville Open. Stephan Jaeger, Greyson Sigg, Brandon Wu, Trey Mullinax, Adam Svensson, and Taylor Pendrith are all inside the top 20. Leaderboard
Big Shot Bob MacIntyre (T-1), Eddie Pepperell (T-4), and Justin Harding (T-4) are in the top 5 through 36 holes of the Betfred British Masters on the European Tour. Leaderboard
TPC Sugarloaf plays host to the Mitsubishi Electric Classic on the PGA Tour Champions this weekend. First-round action kicks off today. Tee Times
Jason Day said that unless he qualifies for the U.S. Open over his next couple of starts he will not attempt sectional qualifying. He has a very important NetJets sponsor outing to attend instead. Yes, seriously. Adam Schupak broke down the situation for Golfweek.
Something is seriously off with Matthew Wolff. His last four starts have been T-64, WD, a failure to get out of group play at the WGC Match Play, and a DQ at the Masters. Late Wednesday night, Wolff WD’d from the PGA Championship without citing a reason. We know his game isn’t in great form, but let’s hope there isn’t more to the situation.
Media mogul Max Homa is killing the #PIP game.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Fried Egg Stories: Making the Ocean Course
In September 1989, a devastating hurricane hit South Carolina. Directly in its path was Kiawah Island, where Pete Dye had just begun to build a new golf course. And this wasn’t just any course: in two years, it was supposed to host the Ryder Cup. To kick off the second season of Fried Egg Stories, we dig into drama behind the making of the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, host of next week’s PGA Championship. Fried Egg Stories is produced by Garrett Morrison, co-hosted by Andy Johnson, and mixed and engineered by J Vierck. Thanks to Meg Adkins for transcript help, and to Troy Miller for connecting us with interviewees for this story. This episode—indeed, this entire season—of Fried Egg Stories is made possible by Precision Pro Golf. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
Shotgun Start: Disgraceful Day, Scandalous NCAA, and Flashback to the “Half Nelson”
It’s a Friday episode heavy on disgust. There’s disgust over the NFL scheduling the Browns-Bears game for the one fall Sunday that Brendan and Andy really can’t ignore in the golf world. There’s disgust about the pitch-and-putt setup at TPC Craig T. Nelson. There’s disgust over the Thicc Boi suggesting he easily left six shots out there. There’s disgust over Jason Day saying he will not attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open if he has to, opting to play in a corporate sponsor event that day instead. There’s PLENTY of disgust for the NCAA decision to cancel the women’s regional outright, as well as some comments hinting that maybe LSU didn’t really want to try to play. Following that airing of grievances, Precision Pro Flashback Friday focuses on the 1994 edition of the Byron Nelson, what came to be known as “The Half Nelson,” and the winner that year who went on to become the first player ever to shoot 29 in the U.S. Open—twice, in back-to-back years. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
Hold on to your hats, folks, there are going to be some LOW scores at TPC Craig Ranch this weekend. No, seriously, grab a hat.