Stenson skipping next WGC: 'Match play is do-or-die'

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PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Henrik Stenson’s stay at the year’s first WGC event was brief, but his time at the second one will be even shorter.

Stenson withdrew from last week’s WGC-Mexico Championship after just 11 holes of his opening round, citing a stomach bug. He has recuperated enough to return to action this week at the Valspar Championship, an event that will kick off a busy stretch for the Swede leading into the Masters.

Stenson revealed Tuesday that his stretch will not include an appearance later this month at the WGC-Match Play Championship, which he is skipping for the third straight year. While the PGA Tour introduced a group-stage element to the format in 2015 in an effort to keep top players around for more than one match, the tweak has led Stenson to take the tournament off his schedule.

“I was not that keen on the round robin,” Stenson said. “To me, match play is do-or-die. Either I win or I lose. I kind of like that format.”


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Stenson will instead head from Tampa to Orlando for next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, followed by an appearance at the Shell Houston Open where he finished second a year ago.

As for the match play, Stenson has proposed to Tour executives a format that more closely mirrors the model of the U.S. Amateur, where the field plays 36 holes of stroke play with only the top players advancing to match play.

“You could potentially even put another couple of guys in the field if you wanted to, to start with,” he said. "Then you get to make sure that everyone is around for a little bit.”