Allowing ties would improve Match Play format

By Rex HoggardMay 2, 2015, 2:18 am

SAN FRANCISCO – Consider it the wrong execution of the right idea.

Sponsors spooked by too many bracket-busting, early-round exits in recent years at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play wanted a tad less volatility at golf’s most capricious tournament and the PGA Tour responded with a chainsaw, introducing round-robin group play the first three days for this year’s event.

But as well intentioned as the changes may have been the fix doesn’t fit. Players suggested it, confused fans confirmed it and the commissioner all but conceded the Tour will continue to tinker.

“I’ve heard some of that. It’s like when we did the FedEx Cup we learned a lot, we made some changes. We like this but we’ll evaluate it,” commissioner Tim Finchem said on Friday. “We’ll talk to all the players and see how we can make it better.”

The Tour took the best Wednesday in golf, diluted it down to three days of lukewarm excitement and multiplied the least compelling element of the WGC-Match Play, Sunday’s runner-up match, into a Friday filled with consolation matches.

WGC-Cadillac Match Play: Articles, videos and photos

All told, 22 players set out on Friday competing for nothing more then pride, a purse and points, be they world ranking or FedEx Cup. Eight matches were meaningless thanks to the new round-robin format that although well intentioned is still in need of a few nip/tucks.

Indifference among those assured nothing more than a trip home on Friday led Tour officials to warn at least one player that he would be fined for unprofessional conduct if he were to concede his match on the first hole on Day 3, an option that is allowed under the Rules of Golf.

While purists balk at the notion that something is wrong with match play, in the modern media era one-and-done formats are about as appealing as an automatic press, and group play would seem to be no answer.

Where things got sideways was when the Tour attempted to reinvent the wheel. Instead of following the format used at the Volvo World Match Play Championship on the European Tour, the PGA Tour used a record-based system that didn’t allow for ties instead of a points-based model (two points for a win, one point for a tie) that allows for halved matches.

Henrik Stenson, unaware of the differences between the formats, walked off the 18th green on Wednesday thinking he’d just halved his match with John Senden only to have the Australian explain that they still had some work to do.

“I wasn’t keen for the format to change and finding out after I walked off the 18th heading for the clubhouse with a half-game [point] that we had to keep on going, that didn’t put me in a more favorable position for the format,” Stenson said on Wednesday after losing the match in 19 holes.

Had the European format been used this week, Stenson would have begun Friday with three points and tied with Senden, who along with Rickie Fowler locked up his spot in Saturday’s Sweet 16 on Thursday thanks to complicated and confusing math.

In fact, had the frat brothers played for points and ties, only 16 players would have been eliminated before Friday’s play, which is still not a best-case scenario but better than the alternative (22).

It is telling that with few exceptions, Martin Kaymer in Group 5 being the most notable, the results from the group-play portion of the event would have been the same using the European format, the crucial difference being that more players had something more meaningful to play for than world ranking percentage points.

An inherent American aversion to ties aside, the European model would be a good starting point as Tour officials go back to the drawing board.

“I think a tie should mean something,” Justin Rose said. “If you’re going to call it a World Cup-style format a point means something, a half-point means something which makes a tie mean something. If the half-points are in play guys like Stenson would have had a chance today.”

Of course, the Tour’s primary motivation to revisit the format may have more to do with who isn’t in the field on Saturday. Contrary to conventional wisdom that suggested the new format would yield better weekend fields the Match Play maintained its giant-killer persona.

Just five of the 16 top-seeded players from each group advanced to the knockout rounds, a body blow that sent the likes of world No. 2 Jordan Spieth and No. 3 Stenson packing.

With that kind of diminishing returns it’s safe to say the Match Play is still a work in progress.

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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.