The Amer Ari Invitational, which perennially draws one of the strongest fields each spring in men’s college golf, was canceled on Thursday because of high winds.
The 54-hole event at Hapuna Golf Club in Waimea, Hawaii, was supposed to be contested Wednesday-Friday, but Wednesday’s first round was scrapped with all 20 teams – eight of them top 15 in Golfstat – nearly through their first nines as 30-35 mph winds gusted as high as 50 mph, and then Thursday’s first-round restart lasted less than 45 minutes before play was halted again under similar conditions.
With the forecast not expected to improve enough for teams to get in 36 holes, tournament officials made the decision to cancel the event.
Fourth-ranked North Carolina, which won three times in the fall, was 6 under with its players through as many as eight holes when play was called Wednesday. The Tar Heels were playing with UC Davis (5 under), No. 18 Texas (2 under) and Oregon State (2 over), and those foursomes began the shotgun start on holes that were more protected by the wind.
Meanwhile, No. 7 Arizona State (9 over) and No. 14 Pepperdine (7 over) were in the groups that began their rounds on holes most affected by the wind.
While the decision to scrap the golf that had already been played Wednesday was not unanimously popular, coaches explained to GolfChannel.com that the discrepancy of how certain holes were impacted by the wind influenced the tournament officials’ verdict. Hawaii-Hilo is the host school.
Pepperdine was then among four teams at 3 under when play was stopped Thursday. Forecasts later Thursday called for gusts as high as 65 mph. With a large, loaded field, trying to just play 18 holes would be risky for most teams as it relates to their head-to-head records and the .500 rule.
No. 2 Auburn, No. 3 Texas Tech and No. 6 Stanford were also in the star-studded field, though most of those teams will head home from Hawaii with nothing more than a $15,000 vacation and three tournament days to potentially use later this spring.
Four of the teams will get creative on Friday. North Carolina will face Texas Tech while Texas will take on Georgia Tech in what has been dubbed the ACC/Big 12 Challenge. It will take place at Hapuna with the matches all starting with an 8 a.m. shotgun.
The Tar Heels and Red Raiders are each considered, along with Vanderbilt, as the top teams in the country regardless of ranking, so Friday’s matchup will have a bit of extra meaning. However, North Carolina is missing a significant piece, Western Amateur champion Austin Greaser, who had what has been described as a minor procedure on his left hand last week and is expected to miss a few weeks.
World No. 1 amateur Ludvig Aberg of Texas Tech will face potential U.S. Walker Cupper David Ford, who recently won the Jones Cup, in what is easily the headline match.