Olympic golf is about to be on our radars and players will be forced to pretend how excited they are about the possibility of playing a purse-free WGC event at a greater Tokyo country club, the 2019 NCAA Championships once again reminded how much more compelling team match play is than 72 holes of stroke play.
Nothing about this year’s college golf should have been that compelling other than seeing a historic team cap off their season. They didn’t so two other top ten teams faced off in the final. Still, it featured players largely unknown to most watching, a course featuring an odd set of often buzz-killing green complexes and less than ten hour turn around to beat storms. Yet Stanford and Texas put on another stellar match play era show.
Everything about the modern NCAA’s TV-friendly format continues to be fan friendly and a constant, pesky reminder of Olympic golf’s refusal adopt a team format. Seeing players fight for their team in a sport where lone wolf types generally excel, and watching coaching and team components juxtaposed with match play makes for the ultimate “grow the game” theater. It also helps to have a telecast free of promos, thus allowing more time to listen in on player-coach conversations or to simply let announcers set up situations.
Stanford, taking its ninth title, looked soft last fall and made a change in approach, Brentley Romine writes for GolfChannel.com:
After Stanford finished eighth or worse in each of its three stroke-play events in the fall, Ray knew his squad needed to toughen up. He added a Friday morning workout to the team’s weekly training schedule. The high-intensity conditioning, led by assistant coach Matt Bortis, likened to a boot camp for golfers, so the team coined the hourlong sessions, “Bortis Camp.”
Bortis, who played three years at Arkansas before becoming an All-American at Texas as a senior, spent eight years in the Marine Corps prior to taking the Stanford job last October.
“Without a doubt, I’d say that we were the underdogs, but I think some of the stuff that we’ve been doing together has proven guys otherwise,” Bortis said.
Speaking of Bortis, he touched all bases today. Winning on the course he once played at, coaching against the alma mater he played for after transferring to Texas and helping lead Stanford to a title. Adam Woodward with the details of a wild journey.