It seemed at the outset that the WGC-Accenture World Match Play Championship was to be positioned as golf’s version of March Madness.
Cinderella stories, office bracket pools, major upsets, and dynasty champions were set to be the norm.
It hasn’t worked out necessarily this way for the PGA Tour, but match play golf seems to bring out the best in golfers, and brings the game back to a simpler time.
And for the fans, the only thing predictable about the Match Play Championship is that it’s unpredictable.
As the top 64 players in the world get set to tee off at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ritz-Carlton Club in Dove Mountain, each man arguably has just as good a shot to win as the other.
The only reason why there are numbers separating them is because of world ranking. Even that means very little.
The lowest-ranked seed to ever win the event was Kevin Sutherland, who dusted the field in 2002 as the 62nd-ranked player in the field – right in the heart of the prime Tiger Woods era – prior to Woods winning the event twice in a row.
When Golf.com published a list of their top 10 Match-Play golfers of all-time, it’s hard not to notice that eight of the ten photos are black and white. Many tournaments, including majors, were once contested in a match play format.
That’s since been abolished save for once a year in a regular tournament, and then annually in the Presidents and Ryder Cups.
There’s a simple reason for why this has occurred. Sometimes, the best players don’t win. Ratings drop. It’s exciting golf, without a doubt. But there are 64 men who at any point could emerge victorious and, no offense to most of the field, for a golf tournament that is so singularly-focused on one match as the rounds go on, it could become a ratings nightmare.
That said, there is also a chance that the Match Play Championship could come down to a clash of titans. Rory vs. Tiger. Keegan Bradley vs. Ian Poulter.
Compelling golf and compelling characters.
But the days of Hogan, Nelson, Snead, and Hagen are behind us. Dominance, as I touched on yesterday, is of a collective nature now. The lower-ranked seeds have just as good an opportunity to win as the higher-ranked seeds.
This is good for golf. But is it bad for golf?
The Match Play Championship is an anomaly on the PGA Tour season because one man needs only to beat five other men to win the title, not 100+, as is usually the case week in and week out on the PGA Tour.
Your best one day still couldn’t be better than your opponents. Or, your worst could be better than your opponents’ worst and you’d be victorious.
It’s this unpredictability that makes this week in Arizona an intriguing one. The golf will be exciting, no matter who is playing.
A match gets lit with a spark, and despite a good start to the PGA Tour season thus far, the Match Play Championship is the spark this season needs.
Hitting the Links –
The fourth annual Joe Carter Golf Classic returns to Toronto’s Eagle’s Nest (CNW)
Oops. Cricket star breaks is ‘bat’ on a buddies golf trip (The Sun)
Callaway Golf Canada names it’s new GM (Golf News Now)
Viral video of the day. But wait, is that cup regulation size or what?! (Digital Spy)
Britney Spears hits Sherwood for a round with her new golf-nut boyfriend. Golf’s becoming so TMZ-relevant (Entertainment Wise)
An oldy, but this is Martin Kaymer’s buff from the 2011 final against Luke Donald.The coolest fashion trend to come out of Dove Mountain. And I want one (BlackFly Outfitters)
Man blinded in one eye sues golfer. That’s about the story (BBC)
There’s more to Orlando than just Disney. Plus, you might see Arnold Palmer (Globe & Mail)