64 – The upcoming WGC Accenture Match Play is largely considered one of the top non-major events on tour. The idea of getting 64 of the world’s best golfers on the same course going head-to-head in match play is great in theory. When the event first launched it was an exciting new format we only get to see in the Ryder and President’s Cup. It was also a way for the tour to show the global reach of the sport by including top ranked players on the various tours. It was also a TV goldmine because who wouldn’t tune in to watch 32 matches on a Thursday and then an 36-hole final group match for all the marbles on Sunday. This used to be a great tournament. But not anymore.
Lately we have been seeing just how little some of the top players care about this event. You are usually treated to a #1 or #2 seed losing to some middle of the road player in the first round and when it happens people like Tiger or Rory don’t seem to care too much. I mean it’s tough to blame them. Everyone is guaranteed money and if you lose Thursday you just hop in your NetJet and head back to Florida or some can even drive home to their places in Arizona. But worse than these top seeds losing during the first round is the new trend of those guys not even showing up. Reports indicate Tiger won’t play this year, which isn’t surprising given his record over the past few years which include a couple first round knock outs. Also Phil and Adam Scott, both potential #1 or #2 seeds, have already announced they plan to skip the event. So how do you have a World Golf Championship event when the #1, #2 and #4 player in the OWGR skip the event.
I am not sure how you fix this. Personally I love match play. You see a little more competitiveness, camaraderie, and different strategy. But that doesn’t seem to matter to guys making millions off the course who are more concerned with Majors than regular tournaments. So perhaps they need more incentives to play or it needs to be held during a different time of year and a different location, but the bottom line is if they don’t do something soon it will be tough to keep calling it a top tier event.