I remember watching the Barcelona Olympics on television in 1992. Being off school for the summer holidays was obviously great, but I’d count down the days to watch Linford Christie going for gold. The 100 metres would be one of the first finals on the track and that was it, over. It always seems a bit disappointing to have that event completed so quickly.
Roll on the best part of 17 years and I can’t help feeling there was something anti-climatic about golf’s WGC-Accenture Match Play. It wasn’t that Tiger Woods was knocked out just when it looked like he was about to pick up where he left off after his US Open win. It wasn’t that teenage sensation Rory McIlroy was put to the sword by eventual winner Geoff Ogilvy, in the last eight. It wasn’t even that England’s Paul Casey never got out the blocks in the final – which resulted in a predictable second half to the match.
No, I was disappointed after round one. Here you had 64 genuine world-class professional golfers, some of them having travelled thousands of miles, and after 18 holes, if they lost, they had to pack their bags. How disappointing for Padraig Harrington and Henrik Stenson fans, both eliminated on day one. Now I know that’s matchplay for you and this format has its own exciting and unpredictable format that a lot of people love, but I see a real opportunity here to mix things up a little.
It all leads back to the ‘greatest show on earth’, the Olympics. By now most of us know that golf is making its bid for the 2016 extravaganza. We also understand that the exact playing format for the Games, should it be accepted, is being considered. Will it be for amateurs? Will it be for professionals? And, interestingly, will it be strokeplay or matchplay?
I, for one, would welcome a matchplay scenario despite what I’ve said above. But, I’d also welcome a longer format in terms of the number of matches everyone plays. How do ‘group matches’ sound? I’m not about to pitch an idea to the International Olympic Committee, but 9-hole matchplay in groups of four, top two qualify, etc…well, you can see where I’m going. It might not please everyone, but I’d certainly not feel disappointed after day one, knowing that my favourites still had time to qualify from their group. Sounds a bit like England!
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