Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here’s what’s weighing on our writers’ minds.
On what went right for the new-look WGC-Dell Match Play …
New format, new venue, new sponsor and an exceedingly familiar champion all added up to a surprisingly fresh start for the remade WGC-Match Play.
After spending the last two years in limbo after Accenture stepped down as title sponsor after the 2014 event and a brief cameo at Harding Park last year, the new-look tournament enjoyed a solid make-over with its move to Austin Country Club and the addition of Dell as the new title sponsor.
That Jason Day won the Match Play for the second time and ascended to world No. 1 with the victory only completed an already impressive week. – Rex Hoggard
On what possible format tweaks could be made to make it even better …
I get it. The PGA Tour needed to tweak the format of the WGC-Dell Match Play. But there has to be a better option than this.
The novelty of the pool-play option has worn off in only two short years. Instead, all we’re left with is a muddled series of scenarios and projections – and that’s just when trying to figure out which early-round matches are actually important.
The Tour wants its stars to stick around as long as possible, which the previous one-and-done format did not provide. But the current setup, where head-to-head results in group play are meaningless and four-way playoffs are within the realm of reason, well it just doesn’t work. And that doesn’t even account for the nonsensical decision to make playoff participants wait to play one hole, sometimes up to two hours, just so their playoff starts after the last group-play match has begun.
This year the ping-pong balls bounced in the direction of several intriguing matchups during the group stage, head-to-head duels that the prior setup likely would not have afforded. But when the conclusion of pool play brings more head-scratching than drama, it’s time for a reboot.
There are scenarios out there that will inject more meaning into each match while still offering some protection to the field’s top seeds. Hopefully some of the smart folks in Ponte Vedra Beach can put one of them into place before next year’s event rolls around. – Will Gray
On a deserving champion taking back the world No. 1 ranking …
Now that’s how you seize the No. 1 ranking.
Jason Day moves back atop the Official World Golf Ranking in style. While he didn’t need to win the WGC-Dell Match Play Sunday to get back to No. 1, Day did so with an impressive finish, beating Rory McIlroy in an exciting semifinal match and routing Louis Oosthuizen in the final. Late last summer, we watched McIlroy take the No. 1 ranking from Jordan Spieth on a week that McIlroy wasn’t even playing. The very next week, Spieth moved back to No. 1 after missing the cut. It’s the way the complicated rankings formula can work sometimes, making you wonder how much fuss we really ought to make over the transfer of the top ranking. Day made Sunday’s passing of the torch more meaningful. He made it feel like we ought to make a fuss over who’s No. 1 in the game . . . at least for the moment.– Randall Mell