Who said you must have Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy doing battle on Sunday afternoon down the stretch to put fans in front of the television. The final rounds at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championships featured Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Victor Dubuisson and were every bit as exciting to watch as the finish to the 2013 Masters.
After the nasty weather last year at The Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain Resort, I spent the entire year bemoaning the need to either move this event to a different location, or give it a date that coincides with better weather. I understand the logistical need to keep the date firm, and after what I saw on Sunday am not sure I want to see a different venue. This Golf course was designed for this tournament, and it would be a shame to move it.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said in an interview on Sunday that the fate of the tournament, it’s location, and format would be decided by April. I have always said they need to figure out a way to keep top names involved for the entirety of the event. With the win or go home format, too many times the weekend action does not include major figures even being on the property.
They are discussing a Round Robin Metal-Play component to the tournament that would also include Match Play.
The knock-out format, which means half the field of 64 heads home after the first day of matches, has also been a matter of speculation. Among the potential changes being bandied about would be a stroke-play component that decides the players to advance to the match play portion of the event or round-robin play similar to soccer’s World Cup that determines the semifinalists.
Mr Finchem also discussed the possibility of new sponsors, and a different venue. I understand the need for some change because in its present format, the tournament appeals mostly to golf enthusiasts, and provides little draw to the casual fan. Especially if there are no major stars playing on the weekend.
“We’re looking at a lot of different options, talking to a lot of different potential sponsors, including Accenture,” Finchem said. “So I wouldn’t rule out anything at this point. We haven’t moved in any one direction. We don’t have any particular agenda.
“We’re just looking at all the opportunities that are out there, and my guess is it’s going to be several weeks before we settle on it.”
Whatever decision is made on the fate of this tournament, I for one, hope they will leave the Match Play component as is. I don’t think the match I saw on Sunday afternoon could have been much better.
The drama provided by a little known 23 year-old Frenchman was priceless. The randomness of the whole situation was the magic that will make the end of the 2014 Accenture Match Play Championship live on highlight reels forever, and the reason it was Must See TV!
You can follow Les on Twitter @Spin_47 and in the Golf Community at Google+