SBD/July 3, 2014/Events and Attractions

'15 Match Play Championship At S.F.'s Harding Park To Feature Round-Robin Format

Finchem (r) likes that the format will offer more chances to see fan favorites
TPC Harding Park in S.F. yesterday was announced as the site of the '15 WGC-Match Play Championship, which will have a "different format starting next year," according to Jeff Rude of GOLF WEEK. The 64-man field will be divided into 16 four-player groups, and each group "will play round-robin matches Wednesday-Friday." Players with the "best record in each group will advance to 16-man, single-elimination match play, with two rounds on Saturday and the semifinals and final Sunday." The event for the past eight years was played in Marana, Ariz., and has a "one-year deal at Harding." The PGA Tour is "said to be close to getting a 'yes' or 'no' from an unnamed prospective title sponsor" after losing Accenture following this year's event. The one-year agreement "enables the Match Play to remain on the schedule and gives the Tour time to figure out when and where to stage the event" in '16. It had been "held on Week 8 of the Tour schedule, ending the West Coast Swing," and the Tour is "said to want to return to that date again" in '16 (GOLFWEEK.com, 7/2).

THE BEAUTIFUL GAME? REUTERS' Mark Lamport-Stokes reported Match Play organizers "hope that a 'World Cup-type format' will breathe new life into the first of the season's four elite World Golf Championships events where so often in the past the top players have made early exits." PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said, "It's kind of nice that we're able to talk about that in the context of everybody in the United States being riveted to that format over the last month in Brazil where we'll be playing golf in the Olympics for the first time in '16." Finchem said of the format change, "It's a lot more golf. There are going to be 96 matches for fans here to go out and watch on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Secondly, over time, the best players rise to the top so we think that'll be positive as it goes into the weekend. Third, if you're a Steve Stricker fan or a Bubba Watson fan or a Tiger Woods fan, you're going to be able to follow your favorite player for three days hoping that he makes it into the round of 16" (REUTERS, 7/2).

QUAIL HUNTING: In Charlotte, David Scott reports the '15 dates for the Wells Fargo Championship "have been temporarily moved" to May 14-17 to accommodate the Match Play's new time slot from April 29 to May 3. Wells Fargo Championship Exec Dir Kym Hougham said, "The tour asked if we could help out and we were happy to." But Scott notes the move "means the Wells Fargo will be played the week after the Players Championship ... rather than a week before." The change also "lands the Wells Fargo in the middle of Charlotte's NASCAR speed weeks," as the Sprint All-Star Race will "likely be scheduled for May 16 at Charlotte Motor Speedway." Hougham said that the tournament will "return to its early May date" in '16 (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/3). 
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