Match Play adopts 'World Cup-type' format for 2015

Wed Jul 2, 2014 4:59pm EDT
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(Reuters) - A revamped WGC-Match Play Championship will take a leaf out of the World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil when it is staged for the first time at the TPC Harding Park in San Francisco next year.

Apart from a change of venue, organizers hope that a "World Cup-type format" will breath new life into the first of the season's four elite World Golf Championships (WGC) events where so often in the past the top players have made early exits.

Instead of the traditional 'tennis-style' draw where the top seed takes on the 64th seed in the opening round, the 64 players who qualify via the world rankings will be organized into 16 groups of four and guaranteed a minimum of three matches.

"We're going to do it differently next year," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem told a news conference on Wednesday after Harding Park had been announced as the venue for the 2015 edition. "It's going to be a World Cup-type format.

"It's kind of nice that we're able to talk about that in the context of everybody in the United States being riveted to that format over the last month in Brazil where we'll be playing golf in the Olympics for the first time in '16."

Golf will be returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1904 when the Rio de Janeiro Games are held in 2016.

"The 64 players will be broken down into groups of four: 16 groups of four, and then on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, they'll all play each other," Finchem said of the new Match Play Championship format.

"And then we'll cut to the top 16 players out of that to play to 16, eight, four and two on the weekend."