By RON BALICKI
The playing format for this fall’s Golfweek/ Ping Preview college tournament has been changed by host team Purdue, and the switch means two of the nation’s top programs – Georgia and Georgia Tech – will not compete.
Originally scheduled for three days with 18 holes each day, the event now will take place over two days, with 36 holes the first day and 18 the second. Competition will take place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22-23, with a practice round Sept. 21 on the Kampen Course at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind., site of the following spring’s NCAA Championship.
The change was made after Devon Brouse, head coach of host Purdue, decided he wanted to play the 36-18 format rather than the originally planned 18-18-18. He said he did so to take a stand against the new NCAA rule that allows teams the option of playing nine three-day tournaments during the regular season rather than 24 playing dates.
The new rule is scheduled to take effect this fall but will be revisited by the NCAA. Brouse has been one of the leaders in an attempt to get the rule overturned. At least 70 schools have filed override votes asking that the rule be overturned, enough to have it sent back for a vote at next January’s NCAA convention.
“Our original intent was to have (the Preview) over three days,” Brouse said. “But with this new legislation, I don’t feel it would be in my best interest to do that.
“I didn’t make this decision lightly. I talked to some other coaches and our athletic director. Now I feel going to two days is in the best interest of my team and our program. I’m trying to squeeze the most out of my schedule.”
Brouse, who like most coaches plans to stick to the current 24 days of competition, said this would give him an extra playing date. He plans to use it by hosting another tournament prior to the Preview, inviting 17 teams for a one-day, 36-hole event.
The change in format means Georgia and Georgia Tech will not attend the Preview. Both schools have chosen the nine-tournament option, which means they cannot play in any two-day events. Georgia, runner-up to Stanford at the 2007 NCAA finals, finished last season No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, and Georgia Tech was No. 9. They will be replaced by two other teams to be determined.
“We regret that this had to happen and any inconvenience it might cause to some teams,” said Scott Sullivan of Ping, one of the event’s sponsors. “One of our main goals is to hold the tournament on the course of the next NCAA (Championship), and in order to do that we had to make the change.
“It’s unfortunate, but these are the circumstances we now have to deal with, and we’ll just do the best we can.”
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Ron Balicki is a Golfweek senior writer. To reach him e-mail [email protected]