Finding a perfect match play format for the WGC event appears to be an ongoing saga with another tweak needed, but it's the imperfection of the event that in so many ways makes it such a joy.
For instance, I watched a good portion of the Bill Haas-Adam Scott match Friday either via PGA Tour Live or with my eyeballs from the 7th green on, and the battle was quite captivating. The body language, the strategic decisions, the constant lead changes, the talent of the combatants and the desire of both to win made for great viewing. And then after the match, we learned both wished the quality of play was sharper, yet as a fan I was never bored because of the passionate head-to-head battle.
And mercifully Haas won, otherwise they would have waited at least 90 minutes to play-off the match due to a strange decision to make finished matches wait for their 19th hole instead of doing what they've done in previous WGC's: head right to the #1 tee no matter who was there.
With the WGC Dell Match Play whittling the field to 16 on a positively bizarre Friday in Austin, Jim McCabe at Golfweek.com did a wonderful job summarizing the sheer lunacy, unfairness, genius and joys of the match play's first three days. Perfect? No way. But who would want it to be too neat and tidy? McCabe writes:
You think it’s nuts that nine guys who went 2-1 have been eliminated, but two guys who went 1-0-2 are still alive?
You find it curious that the world No. 1, Jordan Spieth, goes 3-0 and has to play the formidable Louis Oosthuizen, also 3-0, in Saturday’s Round of 16, while guys ranked 47th (Ryan Moore) and 65th (Patton Kizzire) have a game of similar stature?
You shake your head at a guy, Brooks Koepka, who gets whipped, 4 and 3, by Danny Willett, but advances, while a guy who makes five birdies and plays 19 bogey-free holes against Rory McIlroy is sent packing?
There’s probably more, and more, and more, but yet there is always this: It’s not only match-play golf, it’s round-robin, match-play golf, so forget the inequities and accept the WGC-Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club for what it has been for three days.
But as Sean Martin notes at PGATour.com, the top 3 in the world advanced to Saturday's Sweet 16 in spite of the madness that is match play.
A whole lot of golf — 96 head-to-head matches, to be exact — that was whittled down to the expected (3-0 records for Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy), the surprising (63rd-seeded Patton Kizzire), and the bizarre (Chris Kirk and Branden Grace waiting more than two hours to have a one-hole playoff).
Here is G.C. Digital's rundown of all the matches. Each has great little stories of strategic decisions, gamesmanship and pure execution that will probably be lost to history, but that's the beauty and curse of modern day match play.
Oh, and Patrick Reed really likes match play, as Bob Harig at ESPN.com notes.
Rory McIlroy is pretty good at it, too. Doug Ferguson reports on his 10th straight win at the WGC Dell.