The PGA Tour heads west this week from soggy New Orleans to San Francisco for one of golf’s most entertaining events – the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship. This year’s tournament, however, will be unlike any you’ve seen before.
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The WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship has been a staple on the PGA Tour since 1999, but has undergone a number of changes for the 2015 installment. Most noticeably, it’s being played in early May instead of mid-February, moving from Dove Mountain in Arizona to TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. This year also marks the first time that the tour’s top talent won’t have to worry about traveling all the way to the event just to get beat in the round of 64. The new format guarantees at least three days of golf for everyone.
According to Golf.com, here’s how it’ll work: There will be 16 foursomes, playing head-to-head in a round robin style tournament from Wednesday through Friday. The top seeded player in each group will be from the top 16 players in the world with the three remaining players in the group randomly selected on Monday, April 27, 2015, live on Golf Channel. Pool No. 1 will feature players ranked 17-32, Pool No. 2 will draw from players 33-48 and Pool No. 3 will select players from 48-64.
“We think this model for determining the 16 groups at the Cadillac Match Play will add intrigue and excitement to the event,” PGA Tour Executive Vice President, Chief of Operations Andy Pazder said of the changes. “This system maintains competitive balance in each of the 16 groups, yet allows us to create discussion and conversation over a variety of platforms when the groups are announced. This will enable the Cadillac Match Play to have a unique live draw announcement.”
After the first three days of pool play, the top seeds in each group will advance to the round of 16, which will be held on Saturday and Sunday and played under classic match play rules.
Some of the marquee groupings include the foursome of world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, regining FedExCup champ Billy Horschel, 7-time PGA Tour winner Brandt Snedeker and 2013 PGA Champion Jason Dufner, as well as the grouping of Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Louis Oosthuizen.
One of the world’s top players who will not be teeing it up this week is Phil Mickelson. The current world No. 18, Mickelson withdrew late on Sunday citing personal reasons. He will be replaced in the field by world No. 68 Mikko Ilonen.
Mickelson said, “I’m really happy with the new format and TPC Harding Park is a terrific setting for match play, so it’s unfortunate that I won’t be able to play this year.”
Mickelson, who hasn’t appeared in a WGC Match Play event since 2011, said he still expects to play in The Players and the Wells Fargo Championship.
If these changes to the WGC Match Play aren’t enough, there will be even more changes next year as the event once again changes location and sponsor – this time heading to Austin, Texas as the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship.
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