This event has been destroyed. No other way to put it.
Every change since 2014 has been a mistake.
I once said the WGC Match Play Wednesday was the Best Day in Golf. I favorably compared it to Masters Sunday.
- February was the perfect month.
- Dove Mountain was the perfect venue.
- Knockout match play was the perfect format.
All have been changed.
One year Woods, Mickelson, and Adam Scott skipped the Match Play. This, the public was told, constituted a crisis. Panic! Panic! Panic!
Here’s how Wiki describes it:
Each year, one or two top players would routinely skip the event. This issue came to a head in 2014, when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott (three of the top 4 players in the world at the time) all chose to skip the event, with Scott in particular saying he would be more likely to play if the event were staged at a different course. This would turn out to be the final edition of the Match Play staged at Dove Mountain, with the WGC moving to California the following year.
Adam Scott, of course, is skipping this year. Woods, in 2014, was skipping to go watch Lindsay Vonn ski in Russia. Mickelson, after Rickie Fowler mopped the floor with him (6 & 5), stopped playing, but his real problem — so he said, anyway — was with the schedule. If one also assumed he also disliked the course, still, why change the format?
Of course, the bigger question is why anyone would change anything to attract Mickelson and Scott? If we’re going to go all TV-ratings-y, Mickelson and Scott were never a pimple on Woods’s butt. And the only other Dove Mountain event — or any WGC Match Play event — Woods skipped was in 2009 (for well-known reasons). Changing things to attract Woods was asinine, as Woods was playing every year anyway.
Loudmouth inside trader and money-laundering gambler Phil Mickelson whined. He couldn’t say he was embarrassed by Fowler and frightened to play Dove Mountain again, so he said he had to take time off to be with his family, and that he didn’t like the format because you might play just one day. Clearly what he meant was, “Rickie beat the crap out of me. I don’t want to risk another such embarrassment.” So Tim “Einstein” Finchem decides to change the format.
Which was the biggest mistake.
I rank the mistakes, with number one being the worst: (1) format change; (2) schedule change; (3) venue change. Truth be told, I liked Dove Mountain, yes, but there’s no compelling reason why it should be played there every year. (I thought the sparse look of Dove Mountain stressed the Man vs Man, winner-take-all aspect of the event. As well, it penalized errant drives.) The schedule change has proved to be bad. The format change is a disaster.
So how are things going this year? Four of the top 13 players skipped (one of them being Adam Scott). And not one of them did so because he was going to Russia to watch his girlfriend compete in a skiing event.
Oh, by the way. What do you think of Rory’s wasted week? In the past, he would have left Wednesday night and gone to Augusta to get in a practice round. This year, he loses on Wednesday, waits for his Thursday match which falls through, then, today, plays a match with no meaning unless Kjeldsen loses. You tell me which scenario is better.
As for today, where’s the excitement? You get no bonus for going 3-0, and if you are less than that, you are liable to have it all come down to a sudden death playoff (which includes a guy you already beat). It’s a total mess, and I say that as both a golf fan and a numbers/details person. As a Rory fan, I have to “cheer” for Rory to win and Kjeldsen to lose. Should that happen, then there is a three-way sudden playoff with Rory, Kjeldsen, and Grillo. That’s not “exciting.” That’s moronic. And frustrating to fans.
Here’s a suggestion: Next year, skip the event and declare the winner by ping-pong ball lottery at the reveal show.