For those of you not keeping score at home, a lot has happened to next week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play.
- Accenture has been replaced as the sponsor by Cadillac
- The tournament has been moved from February in Tucson to May in San Francisco at historic TPC Harding Park
- A new format has been set that ensures that all players play at least 3 matches before their fate is determined. No more one and done, “Rory’s out??”
The way they’ve set this up is going to make this very interesting.
- The field of 64 in the Official World Golf Rankings will be divided into 16 groups
- The top seed in each of the 16 groups will be determined by the OWGR of the top 16 players in the field and distributed in order 1 to 16
- The second player in each of the 16 groups will come from the 16 players in the OWGR 17 to 32. But instead of being distributed in order, there will be a blind draw televised on the Golf Channel
- Same thing for the third player in each of the 16 groups. The players in the OWGR from 33 to 48 will be distributed to each of the groups by random draw
- And, of course, the fourth player by random draw from the OWGR 49 to 64
From there, each player in each group plays a round robin against the other three players beginning on Wednesday to determine which 16 players will make it to the weekend matches (with two-man tie-breaker and three-man playoff rules in place).
The weekend matches consist of two single elimination matches on Saturday and two on Sunday, the last determining the champion.
It’s great that the Tour has finally settled on this new format. And although I will miss going down to Tucson to cover it, the new sponsor and new venue promise to freshen up the only match play event on Tour. That is something everybody seems to want, including the players, and with the random pairings, there should be a whole new level of excitement. There have been desolate fourth and fifth day matches in the past from a ratings point of view. Those of us who have appreciated matches amongst lesser know players have been outvoted.
We won’t have the gritty accomplishment of No. 64 taking out Tiger or Rory in the first round anymore, but we will have a robust display of the the 64 best players in the world for three solid days. On balance, I think that’s a very good thing.