Keeping Score

From the Morning Read inbox

Restore one-and-done format to Match Play

I agree with Alex Miceli’s contention that the PGA Tour has made a mistake with pool play for the WGC Match Play (“Match Play lacks drama of one-and-done,” March 26).

When the change was made before the 2015 Match Play, the idea was to avoid the one-and-dones by big-name players. Instead, we get to watch Dustin Johnson die a slow death, and we still get Cameron Smith vs. Tyrrell Hatton.

That being said, I did watch all of the coverage, but only because I recently broke my ankle and had nothing better to do. Bring back the one-and-done.

Ginny Kavanagh
St. Augustine, Fla.

 

Advertising thumps golf, 8 and 7

I watched the WGC Match Play and never really gave much thought to the four-man groupings, other than it was kind of strange in a match-play format to be able to lose and continue to be in the tournament.

I wasn't really aware that you could end up playing meaningless matches. That should never happen, and your article cleared that up for me.

The PGA Tour should revise the format so that matches that have no consequence never happen. It might be more about selling advertising than it is about golf.

If top-rated players are around longer, it’s an easier sell to advertisers and sponsors. I understand the motivation and know it’s not easy to come up with something that works for everyone. I do enjoy the match-play format, though.

Sandy Galbraith
Huntington Beach, Calif.

 

Match Play rates as must-watch TV

I couldn’t disagree more. As an avid PGA Tour fan who watches every event yearlong, I contend that the Match Play event ranks near the top for me in sheer watchability. The first three days, especially, as many matches and pools remain in the balance with back to back to back tension and great moments.

So what if a few matches were stinkers or that Dustin Johnson played poorly for two days and essentially was cut? We ended up with a full slate of great matches on Friday, including an amazing Tony Finau-Alex Noren duel that was as good as a final-round Sunday playoff. There actually was so much action that the Finau-Noren battle was overlooked in the TV coverage. Noren nailed clutch putt after clutch putt to close out Finau. It shows you how strong the new format is: the TV coverage couldn’t keep up with the action.

And it’s 3-3 in having the golfer playing the best golf that week winning the event. In the old format, Julian Suri might have knocked off eventual winner Bubba Watson on Watson’s one mediocre round. Who’d want to see that? Not me. Golf isn't the NCAA. We don't want to see the no-name Cinderella players advance. We want to see the giants of the game battle, and this format delivers.  

It’s too bad that the Noren-Kevin Kisner masterpiece left Kisner with nothing in the tank for the final. But that’s not the format’s fault, either.  

Hans Mahler
Leesburg, Va.

 

No second chances

Keeping the world’s best golfers around to play “meaningless matches” is an outright attempt to appease the sponsors if/when the “big names” lose their first match. It is not a good format.

Once you lose, you should be out. First-round losers should get reimbursed only for travel expenses, and the winners should get a purse and advance. Top-40 players’ participation should be mandatory to play in the Masters. How about that for a carrot?  

Daniel Cahill
Santa Ana, Calif.

 

Don’t expect PGA Tour to admit a mistake

Alex Miceli is wrong. The PGA Tour did not admit a mistake while restoring the Players Championship to March from May beginning next year. It did so to make room on the schedule so that the PGA Championship could be held in May, rather than keeping it in its traditional place in August.

With player disinterest in the WGC Match Play’s round-robin approach, the PGA Tour eventually might restore the traditional match-play format but never would admit that the current format change was a mistake. That would be analogous to the USGA admitting that patches of sand near a beach, in the rough where spectators stand and trample, is not a hazard with all the rules and restrictions applied.

I would expect the NCAA to change March Madness to a double-elimination tournament before I expect to hear the PGA Tour admitting it made a mistake. 

Dan Trate
Loveland, Ohio

 

One-and-done would shortchange sponsors

Alex Miceli makes decent points, but I think that perhaps it's not just the PGA Tour that wants the players there for three days.

The companies that pay huge endorsement money aren't really happy if their player collects his monthly ransom, plays a single match, pockets $30,000 and hits his couch. They want the TV exposure that being on air for three days will give, not a quick Wednesday match that nobody sees and then no exposure for their products.

There are many more fingers in the pot as well as the ad purchasers who pay the bills. If there are no ads, there will be no match play.

Garen Eggleston
Galloway, Ohio 

 
Incentives, penalties could reshape format
Somehow the PGA Tour must find a way to make the current Match Play format work. I know the sponsors want to keep the big players around for at least three days, but the fans also need to be entertained to benefit the sponsors.
 
Day 3 of the group stage is almost as bad as the last day for those of us watching on TV.
 
I love match play. I love to play it, and I think it's a pure form of golf. The drama of the Ryder Cup is fantastic, but one of the reasons the Ryder Cup works for TV better than the WGC Match Play is that the coverage can cut to other groups. When the Match Play reaches the semifinals, I reach for the remote. The pace of play is just too slow; there are other things that move faster. I will tape it and fast forward.
 
Day 3 of the Match Play was a major letdown. You could see the apathy of some of the pros. The question is, can it be fixed? Some people are advocating for the one-and-done format, but I do not think the sponsors or PGA Tour will revert.
 
Change how the money is doled through the group stage of the tournament. No guaranteed money for "attending" the WGC Match Play. How about this penalty for losing three matches in the Match Play: you cannot play in the next WGC event.
 
The current format can work. It can be entertaining on Day 3, but the pros need to have an incentive, even if it's a penalty, to play their best.
 
Morgan Rubes
Collingwood, Ontario
 

Restore meaning to Match Play

Alex Miceli is correct about returning to a one-and-done format for the WGC Match Play.  

I did not care for, nor did I watch, any of the preliminary matches last week. Whether a player won or lost in the first or second rounds too often did not matter. By the time the second match was over, the third often was irrelevant. Each shot (and match) during round-robin play had little meaning or pressure.

When the “real” matches began with Saturday’s Round of 16, then it became interesting because each player’s fate was on the line: lose and go home. Every shot had meaning and additional pressure to execute.

I hope the NCAA’s March Madness never copies the PGA Tour’s format. Each NCAA game can provide lots of excitement and disappointment, in which a last-second shot could mean an end to a season for a team and its fans.

Bill Martin
Quitman, Texas

 

An outright irritant

I watched a fair amount of golf last weekend. There is one irritant to me when I watch golf. It's when announcers or the captions mention that a putt is “for the outright lead.” This has become commonplace among announcers. As far as I know, every lead is “outright.” You can be tied for the lead, but once you go ahead, you are in the lead.

So, please stop with this silly term. If two players are tied and one is putting for a birdie, just say, “This is for the lead.” 

Bill Tignanelli
Perry Hall, Md.

 
Adopt ‘tournament ball’ for Memorial

I've got a suggestion for the golf ball-distance controversy. Maybe Jack Nicklaus should have a so-called tournament ball at the Memorial Tournament. It would be a good experiment.

Have everyone tee off and play with a tournament ball to dial back the distance by 20 percent, as Nicklaus suggests (“Golf’s distance debate falls short on logic,” Feb. 27). This would bring long irons back into play.

I don't think it would change the winning scores too much, but it might make for some good television and debate. Maybe a different cast of golfers would emerge as contenders if they are better iron players than the smash-and-wedge group that dominates the game.

Something tells me that being able to chip and putt still would rule the day.

Scott Williams
Houston

 

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