This is one of my favorite weeks of the PGA Tour season. The week we break away from the traditional 72-hole stroke play format and venture into the wonderful world of match play.
It’s a great event that was made even greater with the format change a few years back.
Originally, this tournament was separated into four separate flights of 16 players each. Each flight had a name, for example, the Sam Snead flight.
The tournament was single elimination with the winners of each flight, ultimately, squaring off for the semi-finals and finals match. It was run much like the NCAA basketball tournament.
As fun and unpredictable as this format proved to be, the players weren’t keen on the possibility of traveling to play one match and then being eliminated. Since that time, the format has changed in favor of the players.
The tournament now begins with 16, four-player flights. Within those flights, each player will play each opponent, and the player with the best record in the three matches advances to the “Sweet 16.” This format is more favorable for the players and the fans.
It’s also a lot of fun to check out these flights to determine which one appears to be the most competitive.
One flight to stick out above all others this year is Group 12.
This group consists of Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Jim Furyk. In a field of the top 64 players in the world, it’s difficult to find a foursome of bigger names than this.
I’m particularly interested to see how the Mickelson vs. Furyk match turns out. These guys have competed against each other since back in college.
Mickelson was a star at Arizona State during the same time the Furyk was a star at the University of Arizona.
Two other players I’m most interested in watching are Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. There was a time that Woods was unbeatable in match play. He still holds the record for largest margin of victory when he defeated Stephen Ames, 9 and 8, back in 2006.
I’d love to see him advance through this tournament again with a chance to win.
As for Spieth, he just needs a reboot after what continues to be a downfall in his golf game. It was just a few years ago that he was the new dominant player in golf.
Now, he’s almost an afterthought in many of these tournaments. With this tournament being played in his college town of Austin, Texas, I’m hoping to see him re-emerge as one of the best in the game.
Once this tournament is concluded, all eyes will immediately shift to Augusta in a few weeks. Until then, just sit back and enjoy this amazing tournament.
I can’t wait to see who wins!