The Perfect Match

By John FeinsteinFebruary 22, 2011, 2:18 am

The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, which begins Wednesday in Tucson, Ariz., is one of the most fun events on the PGA Tour.

In fact, the case can be made that, outside the majors, it is the most fun event on Tour. From the start there’s suspense: top seeds are frequently knocked out on the first day and again on the second day. There is more happening on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday than on most other weekdays during the long golf season.

Some have been suggesting for a while that The Tour Championship be turned into a match play event. Instead of sending 30 players to Atlanta, send 32 and tee it up on Wednesday. The last two players go 36 holes on Sunday for all the marbles – and the millions.

That isn’t going to happen because network TV won’t stand for it. Even if Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson tee off in the first group on Sunday, that’s better than not having them around at all. TV does a wonderful job of convincing people that the stars can make a run from way behind. If Jim Furyk had a dollar for every time Johnny Miller talked about the possibility of Woods shooting 62 on the last day of the 2003 U.S. Open that Furyk won (Woods shot 75 that day) he wouldn’t have needed the $10 million he made for winning the Whatchamacallit Cup last October.

So there won’t be match play anytime soon – or ever – at the Tour Championship. That’s a shame. But how about the Tournament of Champions? No event on Tour could use an infusion of new excitement like the season-opener. The tournament has become such a snooze that it’s a wonder the players don’t fall asleep wandering around the Plantation Course for four days.

The decline of what was once a big event on the golf calendar has been the subject of lengthy conversations during meetings of both the Players Advisory Committee and the Tour Policy Board – more so the PAC because that’s where most new ideas come from. There have been sponsorship problems: Mercedes bailed two years ago, then SAS came on board for one year. Now, Hyundai has the sponsorship.

Commissioner Tim Finchem has suggested the possibility of strengthening the field by inviting champions from the last two years rather than just one year. That’s still not going to get Woods and Mickelson to show up. In fairness, a format change may not do it either.

But how about this? Make the tournament match play. Usually the field is about 30 players. If you have more than 32 in a given year, make the bottom players play into the field of 32 a day early ala the NCAA basketball tournament. There are plenty of ways to deal with an odd number of qualifiers. The seeds would be based on the previous year’s money list – not the world rankings –  because if you use money maybe a few more top players will want to play Fall Series events.

The commissioner could also tell players who qualify that if they fail to show up, their first application for an ‘opposite event,’ exemption – as in Mickelson going to Abu Dhabi instead of the Bob Hope or Woods going to Dubai instead of Pebble Beach – will be turned down. They’ll scream and yell about it but let them yell.

So now, if you follow my instructions to the letter here’s what you have: the golf season starting with an event people are going to want to turn on from Day 1 because of potential upsets. TV should love that. You’ll have something different, not just 30 guys knocking it around with nearly six figures guaranteed if you can make your tee time four days in a row. And, if Finchem is willing to play a little hard ball with his stars, you could conceivably have that Tiger-Phil final people have been fantasizing about since the WGC Match Play began back in 1999. Even if you don’t get Tiger and Phil – and you probably won’t – you’re going to get two good players who are, at the very least, familiar names.

If the Plantation Course has nothing else, it has a lot of good match play holes, especially the 18th where one would expect a lot of the matches to be decided.

Make the Match Play’s opposite-field tournament in Mexico a full-fledged event, complete with a Masters exemption to the winner. Obviously that field will be strengthened because in this case there wouldn’t be a Match Play, and you can bet the field at the Honda Classic – the first Florida stop – will also be strengthened because some players will take the previous week off and opt to play at PGA National, one of the better courses on Tour. The fact that Honda has been a title sponsor longer than anyone (30 years next month) should make Finchem feel good about strengthening that field.

There is no downside. Sure, you’d lose a WGC event but there are too many anyway. If 64 is the magic number, invite European Tour winners too and make the TOC more international.

It would be a cool way to start the golf season. And it would give a much-needed boost to an event in need of new life.

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.