The verdict is in from Colorado Springs. The NCAA Division I men's golf committee has wrapped up its annual meeting and approved straight match play as the format to be used by the eight teams that advance to the bracketed portion of the NCAA Men's Championship in 2009.
So, here's how the championship will work: 30 teams advance to nationals from regionals. They all play three rounds of stroke play. After 54 holes, the individual medalist is crowned and top eight teams using the traditional play-5, count-4 aggregate scoring advance to play for the team title.
Based on their stroke-play scores, the schools will be seeded into a bracket, the same way the NCAA basketball tournament is contested: No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5.
From there schools will compete one-on-one in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds using all five players in their lineup. Each of the five golfers on School A draws a golfer on School B and plays him in a straight match-play competition. (The way a school's players finished in the 54 holes of stroke play will determine the order of its line-up; the low scorer playing in the No. 1 spot, the next in the No. 2, and so on. Players that are tied will then revert back to the coach's original line-up used in the first round of the championship.)
The winner of an individual match earns one point for his school. If the match is all square after 18 holes, each school earns 1/2 point. The school that wins three or more out of the five points at stake moves on to the next round until we crown a national champion. If there is a 2 1/2- 2 1/2 tie, the tiebreaker will be similar to the one used in previous championships: all five players for each school will play an extra hole. Rather than counting only the low four scores, however, all five players scores will count.
A couple other tidbits: the committee discussed "the .500 rule" and decided to keep it in place for the 2008-09 season. Additionally, it decided against establishing any specific definition for what constitutes a tournament or requiring schools to lock into a set tournament schedule.
Additionally, players will be allowed to use rangefinders during the NCAA Championship under USGA guidelines. The USGA's pace of play checkpoint system also will be implemented for regionals and nationals.