California storm forces top NCAA women's event to completely alter format

2023 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship
2023 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship

This week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am marked the PGA Tour’s first full-field signature event of the season. Now, imagine the Pebble event starting a day earlier and its format shifting from stroke play to match play.

That’s essentially what has happened at the Therese Hession Regional Challenge, one of the premier NCAA women’s golf tournaments of the regular season.

Because of a major storm forecasted to hit the Los Angeles area – and much of the state – beginning Sunday, the original 54-hole, stroke-play event at Palos Verdes Golf Club was not only bumped up a day to Saturday, but the 16 teams are now scheduled to play a match-play bracket with two matches slated for the first day. Play will go until Tuesday, if necessary, though there’s a chance that more than just Sunday is a complete wash as the weather system is expected to dump nearly a foot of rain over three days in some areas.

Ohio State hosts the tournament, which features 13 top-26 teams: No. 1 Wake Forest, No. 4 UCLA, No. 5 USC, No. 6 South Carolina, No. 7 Oregon, No. 8 Texas, No. 10 Florida, No. 15 Clemson, No. 19 San Jose State, No. 20 Pepperdine, No. 24 Arizona State, No. 25 Mississippi State and No. 26 Arizona.

With match play having minimal impact, good or bad, in Mark Broadie's new points-based NCAA golf ranking, the decision to change formats limits the ability to for weather to negatively impact a team's ranking. Losing four matches could have decidedly less of a negative effect on a team than finishing 54 holes – or fewer – toward the bottom of a 16-team stroke-play leaderboard.