The WGC-Accenture Match Play takes place this week - and for
Bunker Mentality it's one of the highlights of the year.
Back in the old days - back when people wore hats, and grew
moustaches without congratulating themselves for being ironic - match play was
always seen as the purest and most entertaining form of the game.
Mind you, back then stroke play was very different. At The
Open, for example, golfers played 36 holes on the final day, and they didn't go
out in order. The winner often finished several hours before the tournament
finished, thus diminishing any chance of a dramatic finish to keep the viewers
TV coverage soon put paid to such quirky ways of running
things as the advertisers cottoned on to the fact that more people watch things
when they're exciting.
Sadly, they also realised that more people watch when you
can guarantee that all the big stars will still be playing on the final day. This
realisation almost put paid to match play golf, since it was deemed
The TV networks are usually right: it probably is. We doubt
many people in the States tuned in to watch Ian Poulter and Paul Casey in the final
of the Accenture match play last year. A great final for Brits to watch, but
not really a crowd-pleaser in America.
Match play only really works as entertainment when you care
about who's playing, and what's being played for.
That's why the Ryder Cup works so well, and why the old World
Matchplay at Wentworth was so good in its glory days: all the big names turned
up, and all the also-rans nobody really cared about were forced to stay at
It started off being about Jack Nicklaus v Gary Player, evolved into
Seve Ballesteros v Greg Norman and only died out when the likes of Jerry
Kelly, Simon Khan and Woody Austin started making it into the field. No
disrespect to any of those three, but they spelt the death knell for the format.
Luckily, the Accenture Match Play has been kept going to
carry the torch, and its WGC status has all-but blackmailed the world's best
players into taking part. In other words, all the ingredients are there: all
the big names present and correct, and a prize worth playing for.
Sitting here with the first players preparing to tee off, BM's
money is on Rory McIlroy jump-starting his season (and career) with what would
be the biggest win of his life.
We're probably wrong, but we won't care because we'll enjoy
every minute of it regardless because watching the best in the world at match
play is a rare treat to be savoured.
We're not saying we'd rather watch match play every week - far from it.
But the man-to-man format of the game should at least be an equal partner in professional golf. And if more tournament organisers had the guts to embrace it, golf would instantly become a more varied and interesting sport.
- - -
Speculation has already started about who will be Ryder Cup
captain in 2014 - with Colin Montgomerie tipping his good pal Paul McGinley in
the Glasgow Herald.
Is it just BM which choked on the suggestion of McGinley
getting the job? We're not unduly bothered per se by the idea that the Irishman
should do it - after all, he seems a decent enough bloke, has been a decent
player, and his only moment of true fame in golf came when he rolled in that
stunning putt at the Belfry to win the Cup in 2002.
But Ryder Cup captain? It's a bit like suggesting Gary
Barlow should win the Nobel Prize for Literature for his oeuvre of Take That
And it's also surely just wrong that a journeyman like McGinley
could retire having been awarded one of European golf's greatest honours while a
Major-winning legend like Sandy Lyle ends his days without ever enjoying the
+ + + + + +
TWEET OF THE WEEK:
"RT @clancoid @Graeme_McDowell your dream 4-ball? >> Me, Scarlett
Johansson......and hope the other two don't show" - Graeme McDowell livens up an impromptu Twitter Q&A session.
NONSENSE OF THE WEEK:
"I can easily picture a teenager in 2050 measuring greatness both in terms
of Majors won and FedExCup titles" - Ty
Votaw, one of the US Tour's identikit MBA-carrying minions, dooms the FedEx
Cup with one of the crassest demonstrations of hubris ever seen in sport.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
The average world ranking of the winners on the US Tour so far this season is
151st, thanks to the efforts of Jonathan
Byrd, Mark Wilson, Jhonattan Vegas, Bubba Watson, Mark Wilson (again), DA
Points and Aaron Baddeley. Those two wins have still only pulled Mark Wilson
up to world number 53, incidentally: he was world number 234 at the new year.
UNDERDOG WINNER OF
THE WEEK: Kenny Comboy, caddie
of Graeme McDowell, who apparently took a fortune off the cream of European
golfing talent (including his boss and Ian Poulter) while on the plane to Arizona
for the Match Play.