Accenture Match Play

Accenture Match Play – Where is Everybody?

One of our few opportunities for big time match play is coming up in the WGC Accenture March Play this week. Match play is a great change-up from the normal 72 hole slug-fest we see week to week, and it highlights a chance to see individual greats and “wannabe” greats go one on one with each other. It’s considered a particularly keen test of will and confidence, to go through a series of face-downs with no one else anywhere in sight.

dove 1And yet, the sponsors are not renewing the event with the PGA next year, and one’s got to wonder what’s going to happen to match play. Is it the format that’s at fault? How could it be? These are golf’s answer to wild west gunfights, and everyone loves those – don’t they?

Apparently not at Dove Mountain in Arizona. This year, three of the top players aren’t coming. We can guess the reason in Tiger Woods’ case – like most, and more than any, Tiger has a “major” mania. It’s primarily what his aspirations are about these days, so he’s going to spend his time preparing for the Masters, the first major of the season. He says that light putting is a priority, and that he’s been chipping out of bermuda grass instead of rye, and wants to get acclimated.


Speaking of the Masters, Adam Scott, last year’s winner, isn’t coming to Dove Mountain, either. Scott didn’t rely on peripheral excuses. Much of the reason he won’t be there is due to the course, citing the fact that “my record isn’t very good there.”

Accenture Match Play Look at a few photos, and you’ll see why. This is a Nicklaus design, but Jack must have been really mad at somebody. There isn’t a single place to stand on the course where it’s advantageous to have two legs of the same length. To say that the fairways and greens are “undulating” is a gross understatement, and from irons to the putter, it’s maddening.

Phil Mickelson isn’t coming for Accenture, either. It’s strange, that only a year ago, I perceived this as an event nobody would want to miss, but this year, it’s being avoided left and right. Unlike Scott, Phil didn’t blame it on the course, relying on the family vacation/kids are out of school thing. I don’t know, maybe he means it – jut saying.

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Apparently, Mother Nature might be playing a role as well. It isn’t just the players who are avoiding Dove Mountain, but the crowds have been disappointing as well. It’s a bit of a trek to get there, but not any worse than the 150 miles I’ve driven to see and meet favorite players for the first time. A 25 mile jaunt is nothing, so don’t give me that. No, in case no one has noticed, there’s been a change in the temperature and weather patterns around the world lately, and Marana, Arizona is allegedly “cold” all of a sudden. Now that’s a reason for skipping it that I can get behind. The older I get, the more I hate being cold.

dove 2The Accenture is still left with some interesting match-ups, and some new faces. With the disappearance of Tiger, Adam and Phil, the 64-man field has issued an invitation to the 65th and 66th ranked players – Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, and Scott Piercey. The first day will see Aphibarnrat, Asia’s number one, face off against Henrik Stenson, who has seemingly won everything of importance there is to win lately.

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Still, match play on the tour is in a little trouble if nothing replaces this event. We’re still depending on those Tiger/Adam/Mickelson appearances to draw the purse and the crowds. Maybe a change in the location will be necessary. The course was voted no. 51 in the players’ preferences, and that’s not good. Part of getting there is making them want to be there – a little sun and a level place to stand will help.

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1 comment

  1. Dove Mountain Golf Course is so typical of a Jack Nicklaus design. There are no landing areas on the greens. When you watch these highly talented players unable to hold them what chance would just an ordinary player have?
    Hopefully this tournament will find a new sponsor, a new venue, and maybe a new format. If a format that keeps more players in it until the final day is likely to attract all of the highly ranked players.
    As for Tiger he was too busy collecting a reported figure of $2 million in India to be bothered with a little match play event.

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