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Therese Hession Regional Challenge controversy ignites college golf

Therese Hession Regional Challenge controversy ignites college golf

South Carolina women’s golf won the 2024 Therese Hession Regional Challenge. (Photo: SC Athletics)

The Therese Hession Regional Challenge is one of the premier women’s college golf events on the calendar and an excellent preview of what’s to come in the spring season for many of the top teams across the country.

The field was loaded, including defending national champions and No. 1 Wake Forest, No. 4 UCLA, No. 5 USC, No. 6 South Carolina, No. 7 Oregon, No. 8 Texas and No. 10 Florida. All in all, there were 13 teams ranked in the top 26 in the 16-team field.

However, just a couple days before the event, it was switched from a 54-hole stroke-play tournament to a match-play bracket. The reason behind the change was the major storms hitting the Los Angeles area last weekend, meaning the event at Palos Verdes Golf Club may not have been completed if played like originally scheduled. In fact, even after the change they weren’t able to get every round of match play in.

South Carolina was awarded the team title, the 25th victory for the Gamecocks under coach Kalen Anderson. Junior Hannah Darling earned a sponsor exemption into the LPGA’s Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship in March at Palos Verdes Golf Club. It will be her professional debut.

Another possible reason for the change from stroke play to match play? Under Mark Broadie’s new ranking system for college golf, match play has minimal impact, good or bad. That means in events like bad weather, the chance of negatively impacting a team’s rating drops significantly.

Ultimately, losing all of your matches could have less of an effect than finishing near the bottom of 16 teams in a stroke-play competition.

When the change was made, it sparked conversation among numerous folks in the college golf community. Georgia women’s coach Josh Brewer was one of those who spoke out and voiced frustrations.


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