Punch Shot: Where and when should the WGC-Match Play be contested?

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2014, 10:10 pm

Dove Mountain is not exactly one of the pros' favorite tracks on Tour. With its contract up after this year, our panel weighs in on which courses should host the WGC-Match Play Championship.

By Jason Sobel

Here is my official, researched, idealist thought for where the Match Play should be held:

Anywhere but Dove Mountain.

No offense to the course, but it's logistically brutal and as aesthetically pleasing as a cactus prick. OK, so lots of offense to the course. It's unimaginative and uninspiring. And those are a few of its better qualities.

For a tournament that should be the most entertaining non-major of the year, it's a terrible choice. There's a reason Tiger, Phil and Adam aren't playing this week – and it's not because they're too into Olympic curling to leave the couch.

My idea is a rotation to some of the great courses around the world. Yes, world – not country. This is a World Golf Championship, isn't it? Let's spread the love.

As for the timing, I like it as is. Late-February gives us a solid gauge of players' games less than two months before the Masters. While the early-season scheduling would eliminate plenty of northern courses, there are still many other great ones which could host.

Anywhere but Dove Mountain.

By Ryan Lavner

The PGA Tour should take its traveling circus about six hours north, to Harding Park (pictured). The current spot on the calendar certainly works – a San Francisco-based WGC still can be part of the West Coast swing, and Harding Park has shown it can stage a big-time match-play event (2009 Presidents Cup).

But the biggest change needed has little to do with venue or date. There must be an added element of stroke play to ensure that the biggest (and best) names are still around for the weekend.

Why not conduct a 36- or 54-hole stroke-play qualifier, then have a match-play bracket for the low 16 players? Yes, the opening round is one of the best golf days of the year, when any world-class player can beat another over 18 holes, but this proposed format also increases the likelihood that we’ll see a few more titanic clashes over the weekend. That, after all, should be the ultimate goal, not first-round unpredictability.

By Randall Mell

Tough call, because this event always struck me as a perfect way to open the new year, to give the PGA Tour a big-bang start, something akin to Major League Baseball’s Opening Day. As it is, folks outside golf’s niche hardly notice when the tour starts up again in the new year.

The thing is, this event would work best in the middle of the West Coast swing, which needs a WGC event to attract the world’s best and bolster other sagging fields around it. You put the Match Play Championship between Pebble Beach and Los Angeles and you tempt players to come early to play Pebble or stick around to play L.A.

But where do you go? San Francisco sounds like a sexy stop, but February is the rainy season there. Arizona seemed ideal, but Tucson isn’t working. Phoenix can’t support a pair of events, or maybe it could, given the giant gate the Phoenix Open gets.

What’s a commissioner to do? How about finding another worthy place in the Los Angeles area? If South Florida can support back-to-back PGA Tour events, so can Southern California. Just flip-flop the dates of the Northern Trust and stage the Match Play Championship first. Put the site up for a bid. See who wants it and go from there.

By Rex Hoggard

There’s nothing wrong with the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship that a new venue – and a few format tweaks, but that’s a “punch shot” for another day – can’t fix.

For the last time, meager crowds will brave a golf course that is equal parts architecturally flawed and geographically wanting for this week’s event at Dove Mountain.

That’s the good news, and it presents an opportunity that shouldn’t be squandered. The loss of Accenture as a sponsor and Dove Mountain as a locale is a chance to inject new life into an event that should be better.

Since corporate sponsorship is not an issue, the PGA Tour’s Tampa-area stop would be a perfect fit for the Match Play. Innisbrook’s Copperhead course is one of the circuit’s most well-liked, but it has struggled in recent years to draw decent fields.

The move would help clean up two Tour issues: Tampa’s ongoing sponsorship issues, and a World Golf Championship that has suddenly become a must-miss for the game’s top players (world No. 1 Tiger Woods, No. 2 Adam Scott and No. 4 Phil Mickelson are all skipping this week’s Match Play).

And, finally, the move to Tampa would be an easy one for current Match Play executive director Gerald Goodman, who previously held the same position in Tampa.

Getty Images

Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

Getty Images

Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

Getty Images

Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

Getty Images

Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.