Surprise Cut Sends Ducks Home After Three Rounds of the NCAA Championships

May 29, 2003

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Despite shooting a respectable 301 Thursday, the Oregon Ducks' run in the 2003 NCAA Men's Golf Championships was abruptly cut short because the NCAA decided to instigate a surprising and controversial 54-hole cut at the 7,301-yard, par-72 Karsten Creek Golf Course.

But it wasn't all bad news for Oregon as Mike Sica advanced to Friday's final round as an individual after shooting a 2-over 74 that left him tied for 13th for the tournament at 5-over 221. He will tee off at 6:45 a.m. Pacific (8:45 a.m. Central) Friday with a chance for a top 30 finish and the automatic All-America status that goes along with it.

The Ducks' 301 Thursday nearly matched Wednesday's turnaround score of 300, but Tuesday's opening round 323 ultimately proved too much to overcome. Oregon finished its first trip to the NCAA Championships in four years at 60-over 924 and in 22nd place.

'I don't think the cut was a very wise decision,' said Oregon coach Steve Nosler. 'But it did not make a difference to our approach, and we were alright today -- especially our top three guys.

'I really feel we went out there and gave it everything we had today, but we got ourselves in a bit of a hole on Tuesday that was too big to get out of,' he said.

Gregg LaVoie had the best round of the day for Oregon, carding a 1-under 71. After opening with an 86, the freshman from Pasco, Wash., had rounds of 75-71 to finish tied for 70th at 232.

Senior John Ellis also continued his recovery from an opening round disaster. After a 92 Tuesday, Ellis finished his college career by going 74-74 to finish tied for 115th at 240. He eagled his final hole, the par-5 18th. Senior Chris Carnahan struggled again Thursday, shooting an 82 and finished tied for 132nd at 246.

Sica, a junior from San Francisco, Calif., had six birdies Thursday and would have scored lower had it not been for a double-bogey on No. 9 and a triple bogey on No. 13. He started a bit shaky with bogeys on three of his first five holes, but recovered with birdies on No. 1, 6 and 8. Sica really heated up on the back nine with birdies on No. 10, 15 and 18.

'I stayed pretty even today,' said Sica. 'I hit two bad tee shots that cost me, but I'm still hitting the ball pretty well and trying to stick with my game plan.

'I am disappointed that my teammates won't get to play,' he said. 'It will be difficult not having the team out there, but I'll give it my best.'

Teams found out about the cut -- the top 18 teams, plus the top six individuals not on those teams -- upon arriving at the golf course Thursday morning. Though the governing body had said previously that a cut would be instigated only in the event of severe weather delays, a statement released by the NCAA indicated a shift in thinking, 'to provide for the necessary contingency of a playoff...The decision was based on upon the pace of play for the first two rounds, which far exceeded what we anticipated and would jeopardize a timely completion of the championship.'

Despite the fact that all 30 teams completed their rounds the first three days of the tournament, the NCAA statement asserted, 'our primary responsibility is to complete the championship in timely fashion. To do this, we felt we had to have a cut. This is a very difficult golf course. We simply ran into a pace of play problem that had to be addressed.'

Clemson had the team lead at 888, followed by Oklahoma State at 899. UCLA and Florida were 11 strokes off the pace at 899.

Auburn's Lee Williams continued to hold the individual lead, shooting a 1-under 71 Thursday to move to 4-under and put five strokes between himself and three competitors at 1-over.

NCAA Championships
Karsten Creek Golf Course
Stillwater, Okla.
Third Round
7,301-Yard, Par-72

TEAM SCORES - 1, Clemson, 299-302-287-888. 2, Oklahoma State, 299-300-290-889. 3 (tie), UCLA, 303-295-301-899; Florida, 302-300-297-899. 5, Wake Forest, 304-306-290-900. 6, Auburn, 299-303-301-903. 7, Nevada-Las Vegas, 313-300-295-908. 8, USC, 300-311-298-909. 9 (tie), Augusta State, 311-306-294-911; Arizona State, 306-308-297-911. 11, North Carolina State, 299-317-296-912. 12 (tie), North Carolina, 308-308-299-915; Washington, 314-300-301-915. 14, Wichita State, 308-309-299-916. 15 (tie), Georgia Tech, 310-306-302-918; Georgia, 315-306-297-918; Arizona, 307-308-303-918. 18, Texas, 306-314-299-919. 19, Duke, 300-326-294-920; Minnesota, 305-309-306-920. 21, Illinois, 304-320-297-921. 22, Oregon, 323-300-301-924. 23, Tennessee, 320-310-295-925. 24, New Mexico, 309-314-305-928. 25, Vanderbilt, 320-313-297-930. 26, Kentucky, 309-323-310-942. 27, Arkansas, 314-326-307-942. 28, Southern Methodist, 316-319-318-953. 29, South Carolina, 313-331-311-955. 30, San Diego State, 323-327-315-965.

OREGON FINISHERS - 13 (tie), Mike Sica, 73-74-74-221. 70 (tie), Gregg LaVoie, 86-75-71-232. 115 (tie), John Ellis, 92-74-74-240. 132 (tie), Chris Carnahan, 76-88-82-246. 151 (tie), Kyle Johnson, 88-77-86-251.

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