It Works for NCAA Hoops Why Not Golf

By Brian HewittFebruary 26, 2003, 5:00 pm
More recently than you might imagine--about a month ago--PGA Tour officials met in a room with the people from ABC and decided they would shake up the nomenclature of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
Flush with the early success of the name switch from the 'Senior' Tour to the 'Champions' Tour, the officials figured a little 'sizzle' wouldn't be the worst thing for an event that had plenty of 'steak' but not enough cachet when it came to competing for other traditional sports entertainment dollars.
 
What emerged from the meeting were four 16-team brackets: The Snead, The Hogan, The Jones and The Player. Just like that, the WGC-Accenture had golf's version of the March Madness. In February. And it had an office pool waiting to happen. Similar to the NCAA basketball tournament, the No. 1 seed in a bracket would play the No. 16 seed. The No. 15 seed would play the No. 2 seed. And so on. Tiger Woods would be Duke and Carl Petterson would be Coastal Carolina.
 
Except the difference between No. 1 and No. 64 in college basketball is far greater than the difference between No. 1 and No. 64 in professional golf. And when you factor in the vagaries of just 18 holes, it was a prescription for upsets. Just last year Duke (Woods) lost to College of Charleston (Peter O'Malley) in the first round. Eighteen holes of match play determining the winner in golf at this level is a bit like one 20-minute half determining the winner in college basketball.
 
This, of course, is the simultaneous charm and curse of this event. If Duke loses in the first round of the NCAA hoops tournament, the enthusiasm doesn't wane until a winner emerges. If a Woods loses to a Petterson, television ratings suffer.
 
World GolfNevertheless, this new format invites comparisons. Like which bracket is tougher; which top seed has the easiest draw; what country or continent will fare the best. The Big East could be the Asians. The Big Ten could be the top 10 players in the world rankings. The Southeast Conference could include all the players with homes in Florida.
 
PGA TourOne of the beauties of match play is you only have to beat one player each day. And whether or not the reason you are shorter off the tee has to do with size, strength or inferior equipment, if you make every putt you look at over a four hour stretch, you probably will win. The best example of this in golf history is Paul Runyan's 8 and 7 victory over Sam Snead in the finals of the 1938 PGA Championship. Runyan was much shorter off that tee than Snead. But he got the ball in the hole better that day.
 
The PGA Tour officials knew the people at ABC sports liked the idea of breaking the field into four 16-team brackets. And that factored prominently into their decision. Whether or not this switch proves to be the ultimate salvation of an event that still hurts when too many stars lose too early remains to be seen. But it is that sporting rarity, a smart marketing decision that didn't compromise the integrity of the tournament.
 
I can only quibble with the names. Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Sam Snead and Gary Player. Great talents. Great records. No argument. But what about Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson? How many more years will we have to wait before somebody lobbies that Woods' should have a bracket named for him?
 
This is the kind of water cooler talk this event needs. Naming the brackets was a first step and a move in the right direction.
 
Related Links:
  • Accenture Match Play Brackets
  • Full Coverage of the Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."