No One Is Safe
If we’ve learned anything in the last decade of the PGA Tour’s match play event, we’ve learned that any player can lose at any time. As the tour’s campaign told us for years, these guys are good. If their putter gets hot, there’s no defense you can play against your opponent to cool them down. This is also why all other events of the season are played in a 72 hole stroke play format. After four days of golf, the cream typically rises to the top. In match play where you only have to beat one guy each day, some weird shit can happen.
By the time you hunker down to watch golf on your lunch break tomorrow, some of the top seeds actually playing this week will already be eliminated. In my bracket I have Stenson, Snedeker, and Stricker going down early in the Jones bracket. No, I don’t have anything against guys who’s last name start with ‘S’. These 3 either have too much rust or aren’t playing well. In the Player bracket I have Rose and Spieth out in round 1. I’ve picked no real upsets in the Hogan bracket and only have high seed Bubba Watson bowing out early in the Snead bracket. I know you all were curious. And now that I’ve put these predictions on the public record, not a single fucking one of them will actually come to fruition. If you’re in Vegas, fade me and you’ll have a fun night at the Spearmint Rhino tomorrow.
Saving The Match Play
Everyone has a theory on how to save this event. With Accenture’s contract as the title sponsor ending there seems to be even more proposals on the table this year. However, unless the tour decides to drastically alter their schedule and messes with a WGC event, this tournament will either stay somewhere on the West Coast or start the Florida swing a week early. Clearly something needs to be done to change how it is now perceived. When 3 of the top 4 players in the world skip what is supposed to be a ‘world’ event you have a problem.
Last year when day one of the Match Play was snowed out (yes, do you remember that?), I wrote a version of the following as my proposal to make a match play format work for a tour a WGC caliber tour event. I still quite like the proposal, but I’ve made some updates to edit this to be more current.
SAVE THE MATCH PLAY!!!
After round 1 half the field has been eliminated but there are still 5 rounds of the tournament to be played in the next 3 days. Having stars like Tiger and Rory eliminated often before the weekend kills television ratings. Snow delays occurring twice in recent years are signs that tournament need to move. Find a location that can’t get snow. The course isn’t that exciting anyway and the 3000 foot elevation makes it susceptible to snow squalls and cold weather in February. Cabo has better weather and Nicklaus’ courses by the dozen if the Tour has a hard on to play on one. Finchem would probably like having a ‘world’ event in another country too.
Better still, why not put this thing somewhere that fans would want to attend? Start the Florida Swing a week early. That’s good for everyone. I’m guessing that playing matches at Seminole isn’t going to happen, but I like to think big. Perhaps the Streamsong courses are an option. The tour could use one course for the Championship singles matches and the other for the consolation matches.
Consolation matches? What’s this? Tell me more you say? Take the 32 losers from round 1 and make them earn their paychecks. No more 45k for showing up. Keep the winners shares the same, but put another million in the consolation bracket. No money to anyone in the consolation field except the winners. Yes, WINNERS, that’s plural. How? Team matches.
Play four ball matches with 2 man teams. Make the losers of the first round pair up with other losers to form a team and play more golf. The networks, sponsors, and fans all win by keeping the stars around for the weekend. Can you imagine if Tiger and Rory teamed up in the consolation to play 4 more rounds of match play? I’d bet the USGA would be pleased to see this happen on the coat tails of their announcement of the new four-ball event. Think about it. The consolation could possible attract more eyeballs than the championship. Picking the teams might be even more entertaining. Let the players make their own twosomes. It would look somewhat like the playground in grade school. Seeing Sergio picked last would be fun to watch. He’d throw a fit.
In the end, my proposed format would allow the players to all get 2 guaranteed rounds in. The network showing the tourney gets more action and more compelling golf through Sunday, and the sponsor is pleased as punch. Everybody wins. Does anyone have Mr. Finchem’s cell number?