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Why The PGA Tour Needs to Restore Match Play Event

By: | Wed 29 Mar 2023

WHEN Sam Burns holed the winning putt to thrash Cameron Young 6&5 in the final of the Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, it marked the end of an era.

Dell’s sponsorship has come to an end, which means there is now not a single matchplay tournament on the PGA Tour schedule. But you can be sure of one thing - Jay Monahan, the tour’s commissioner, and his marketing team will be working their socks off to find a blue-chip company prepared to put their name to this event.

As things stand, there is nothing on the calendar for 2024. And that is a crying shame.

Matchplay is golf in its purest form, man against man. It is the form of golf that most club golfers play, love and relate to.

There will always be those who will argue that the best man does not always win. But it does give some of the world’s lesser lights a golden opportunity to make a name for themselves by rising to the occasion and producing a shock result.

Jay Monahan

(Jay Monahan - Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Before the semi-finals began, just about everybody would have predicted a final involving Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy, ranked first and third in the world. But Burns and Young had other ideas, with both producing thrilling victories.

We still got to see McIlroy tackling Scheffler, albeit in the consolation match. And while the final was a one-sided affair, Burns produced some sensational golf, playing 10 holes in eight under par - it was a quality of golf that nobody could have lived with. 

For Young, it meant yet another runner-up finish, the fifth of his fledgling career. While he may be wondering if his first victory will ever come, it should be remembered that this is only his second year on the PGA Tour. And last year, as a rookie, he finished second in The Open at St Andrews.

Young’s time will come. Jim Furyk finished second an incredible 31 times. He also won 17 times. Phil Mickelson has 37 runner-up finishes to his name but went on to win 45 times. And we all know that Jack Nicklaus won 18 majors and 73 tournaments, but he also finished second on 58 occasions, including a scarcely credible 19 times in majors.

Tiger Woods and Sam Snead share the PGA Tour record with 82 victories apiece, but Snead was second 57 times, while Woods has been runner-up 31 times.

It is hard to believe now, but Padraig Harrington was once known as the European Tour’s nearly man. He finished second 26 times. But he also won The Open twice and the US PGA Championship. He also finished second six times on the PGA Tour.

So Young should not be losing any sleep.

There was one sour note at Austin, with the PGA Tour rewriting history. A list of winners from 2011 was proudly displayed at the course. You would think that would be something to be celebrated. Far from it. The following players names were missing from the list: Dustin Johnson (2017) and Bubba Watson (2018). 

Why? Johnson and Watson have, of course, defected to LIV Golf. No matter what you may think of that decision, both men are an integral part of the history of this tournament. Removing their names was not the PGA Tour’s finest moment.

The final WGC Match Play was among the topics discussed on the latest episode of the Golfshake Podcast

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Tags: PGA Tour FedEx Cup

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