Match-play format certainly suits Tiger!


Match-play format, where players compete directly against each other to win each hole, is rarely employed on the major golf tours. This is primarily due to the impracticality of arranging a tournament in head-to-head fashion, in contrast to the standard practice of allowing 100+ professionals to measure themselves against the par of the course. The Accenture Match Play Championship (part of the World Golf Championships series) is one such rare event and has brought the (nominally) Top 64 players in the world together in Tucson, Arizona for five glorious days of mano-a-mano competition.

The next time we see match-play dividing some of these talented players will be in Valhalla in September.This week’s event has been won handsomely by Tiger Woods, whose early-season form continues to be impressive. Woods is undoubtedly at his best when in direct competition with another player. His success rate in head-to-head contests on the final day of tournaments is legendary and he has once again demonstrated that capability here this week.

His only real scare came on the first day’s play when he trailed J.B. Holmes by three holes with five to play. Holmes sat proudly in sixth place in the Ryder Cup US Team Standings prior to this event and may well have thought that he had mastered this match-play idea as he stood on the 14th tee. He would have been forgiven for thinking that keeping a level par score on the way home should see off his opponent. That’s exactly how he played out the last five but Tiger had other ideas with three birdies and an eagle to leave the shell-shocked J.B. dreaming of what might have been (and what still may be for him in September).

Tiger Woods, of course, has an enigmatic record at the Ryder Cup. In five singles matches, he’s returned a highly respectable 3 and 1/2 points. However, in the twenty pairs matches he has competed in, the US has only won 7 and 1/2 points from a possible 20.

One of the most popular aspects of the Ryder Cup with spectators is the drama created by the use of the match-play format. Interestingly, a poll on the CBS Sports website indicates that two-thirds of respondents would like to see more match-play events in pro golf. See you all again in September!

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