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Golf Australia Express : OTG Express 144
THE WGC–Cadillac Match Play in San Francisco this past weekend provided an instructive window into where the great format of one-on-one duels resides in modern-day golf. For many, it’s still the purest form of the sport. However, for television executives, cash- providing sponsors and Tour vice-presidents, it remains the game’s red-headed stepchild. I used to love the elimination format the WGC–Match Play adopted from its inception in 1999 until last year. The Wednesday of the tournament was always just a breath behind the majors for the best single day of golf all year. Yet, therein, lay the problem. The 64 to 32 to 16, etc. pairing of players each day meant the tournament usually became more boring as it unfolded. Heck, even Victor Dubuisson’s heroics from the cacti against Australia’s Jason Day in the final last February couldn’t save the format. When discussion turns to matchplay, the players seem to fall into two distinct camps: those such as Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed and Day who revel in the ‘battle’ and those who view the flukiness of 18-hole matches as too great a departure from the decisiveness of strokeplay. The former group loves the ebb and flow of a good head-to-head contest; the latter hates how just a few bad holes can send them packing or how a hot opponent can render a solid subpar score completely useless. So between player attitudes, the return-on- investment aspirations of the stakeholders and the desire to make the WGC–Match Play more appealing, it came as no surprise to see the format tweaked from this year to ensure everyone stuck around for a minimum of three days. The European Tour’s iconic Volvo World Match Play Championship adopted a similar structure a few years ago, while relocating from Wentworth to roam to places as diverse as Spain and Bulgaria. The round-robin format was also familiar from other sports and the televised draw for places in each pool added a random element to the event and also created a new spectacle. I watched with great interest, particularly as the third day of pool matches determined who would progress to the elimination rounds. Overall, the format change appears to be a neutral move as what is gained via keeping players around for longer is lost when you consider the number of redundant matches the new system created.The format should have borrowed from the Volvo event in Europe and awarded half points for any matches tied after 18 holes, which better separates the points records of the four players in each pool. Yet after viewing the 2.0 version of the WGC–Match Play, I’m still left wanting my Wild Wednesday – that one day when upsets ruled. The wraparound schedule of tournaments on the 2014/15 PGA Tour includes 47 tournaments, of which just two are not contested as strokeplay (the modified Stableford Barracuda Championship being the other). Surely it’s not too much to ask for a secondary, cut-throat matchplay event to find a place on the calendar? OTG the VIEW YEARNING FOR WILD WEDNESDAY THE NEW ROUND-ROBIN FORMAT WAS INNOVATIVE, BUT WE’RE STILL HUNGRY FOR AN ELIMINATION MATCHPLAY TOURNAMENT EACH SEASON. by Steve Keipert Golf Australia deputy editor POWER VAMP Increased stability and support DESIGNED TO BE THE COOLEST SHOE IN GOLF SHAPELOCK WITH OUTLAST® Locks in your foot and keeps it cool. STEALTH CLEAT Low-profile traction control POWER FRAME Ultra-thin TPU provides lightweight strength and support.
OTG Express 143
OTG Express 145