As each year goes by I fear the true sporting spirit of match play is less and less in evidence. We find a growing disposition for play to concentrate on the figures that are registered at a hole rather than on the question of whether the hole is lost or won in a purely friendly match.
Ron Kroichick reports in anticipation of Wednesday's big day of announcements at Harding Park that the 2015 WGC Match Play will adopt a round-robin pool play format providing some guaranteed great golf viewing for the first three days.
This will keep the full field around through Friday but keep the final 16 format the same as in the past.
The top 64 players in the Official World Golf Ranking will qualify for the event, as in the past. Starting next year at Harding, the field will be divided into 16 four-player “groups,” with round-robin match play on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of tournament week.
Then the winner of each group will advance to the round of 16 on Saturday morning. (Head-to-head results will be used to break two-way ties, with sudden-death playoffs for three-way ties.)
Thanks to reader Patrick for sending in Dale Jackson's excellent roundup of his referree duties during last week's WGC Match Play match between Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia.
He explains the situation with the bees in which Garcia was well-within his right to ask for relief, and then tries to make sense of the strange concession by Sergio. Jackson comes away impressed by both players:
It quickly became clear that both Sergio and Ricky had made use of Rule 2-4, which sets, in part, “A player may concede his opponent’s next stroke at any time, provided the opponent’s ball is at rest.” In language most golfers are used to, they had agreed their putts were “good for good”. It was a very unusual move by Sergio to concede Ricky’s lengthy putt but he stated afterword he felt the bee incident on the previous hole had not been fair to Ricky who had a makable birdie putt that he missed. The concessions by both players was sportsmanship of the highest level and it was consistent with how they conducted themselves throughout the match. They were complementary of each other’s shots, seemed to enjoy each other’s company but played a hard fought and well played match.
**Meanwhile Golfweek Staff reports that Sergio would have given Rickie the putt if it were a Ryder Cup, too. Paging Captain Paul McGinley!
I remember the good ole days when we were begging for brackets and lucky to win a dozen balls, but now there are at least three major brackets with prizes for this week's WGC Accenture Match Play.
The PGA Tour's official bracket provides a seemless registration process for newbies, and warns rather ominously: "the Accenture Match Play Championship is a volatile event with underdogs dominating the favorites more often than you would think."
Golfweek.com also offers an easy registration with a Facebook option so that you can say to your friends, I really have no life, I'm immersed in filling out Accenture Match Play brackets. Golfweek is offering a Stay and Play for 2 at La Quinta for the winner and SeeMore Putters to the 2nd-4th place finishers.
GolfChannel.com is very easy to use if you are already registered for their fantasy league, and appears to be offering the most prizes with 64 winners getting a new driver and "one Grand Prize winner will receive a trip for two to the 2015 WGC Accenture," wherever that may be.
I know we have some fantasy players out there. Which are you using? Oh, and if you've had time to look at the revitalized PGATour.com, this would be a good place to comment too. It's certainly prettier!