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Finchem confident new Match Play format will be a hit

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SAN FRANCISCO – After 16 years under the old, straightforward format, the new-look WGC-Cadillac Match Play will take some getting used to, but PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has been here before.

“It is different. It is new,” Finchem said on Tuesday at Harding Park. “It kind of reminds me of the FedEx Cup the first two or three years. How does this work? That’s healthy.”

The biggest adjustment, along with a new venue and spot on the calendar, will be the round-robin format for the first three days. Replacing the old one-and-done aspect will be World Cup-like group play as players try to advance to the weekend when the format reverts back to single-elimination match play.

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Finchem conceded that under the old format it was hard on sponsors and fans when a top player – like Tiger Woods who lost in the first round three times in 13 starts at the WGC-Match Play – was eliminated early.

Round-robin play will assure at least three days for every player, but it will likely also cause some confusion among fans who are used to the old format, but Finchem is confident that will change after this week.

“The process will be better understood a lot more after this first [event],” he said.