It was supposed to determine the best match-play player on the planet.
But the times they have a changed.
As golf continues its global assault, the influx of multi-million-dollar tournaments has dulled the luster on some of the traditionally prestigious and lucrative events ' to the point where even a $3.8 million purse split between 12 players cant guarantee the appearance of all or most of the top-ranked players in the world.
Three of the top six players from the Official World Golf Ranking are at the Wentworth Club in Surrey, England for the 32nd edition of the World Match Play Championship (Thurs., 9:15 AM ET on TGC).
Theres No. 2 Ernie Els, No. 3 Vijay Singh, and No. 6 Mike Weir. But after that, you have to dip down to No. 24 to find the fourth-highest-ranked player in the field, Thomas Bjorn.
The field, which is taken from a set of rankings which reflect performances in the four majors, also includes British Open champion Ben Curtis, PGA champion Shaun Micheel, PGA runner-up Chad Campbell, U.S. Open runner-up Stephen Leaney, Masters runner-up Len Mattiace, Fredrik Jacobson, Alex Cejka and Tim Clark.
Els, who owns a home at Wentworth, is the defending champion, having claimed his fourth career World Match Play title a year ago. He is the No. 1 seed.
Weir is seeded second, Curtis third, and Micheel fourth. The top four seeds get a bye into the second round.
Singh, the 1997 champion and No. 5 seed this year, will face Cejka (12) in the first round. Campbell (6) will square off against Jacobson (11). Mattiace (7) will set out against Bjorn (10), and Leaney (8) gets Clark (9).
Els will face Clark or Leaney, while Micheel gets Cejka or Singh in Round 2. Curtis has Jacobson or Campbell, while Weir has Bjorn or Mattiace.
All matches are 36 holes.
Els is trying to join Seve Ballesteros and Gary Player as the only five-time winners of this event. Els is the only three-peat winner, doing do in 1994-96.