It’s been a good week for Harding Park and Bay Area golf fans. First, it was announced that the 2020 PGA Championship will be held at the esteemed public track. Now, just several days later, it’s being reported that the sponsor-less Match Play Championship event will also be coming to Harding Park next May, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Ron Kroichick:
Wednesday’s news conference at City Hall will include this Match Play announcement, a source close to the PGA Tour said Monday. The tournament, held the past eight years at Dove Mountain outside Tucson, Ariz., is expected to move from February to May, improving the chances of dry conditions at Harding.
The tour’s commitment to hold Match Play in San Francisco covers only one year, but Rec & Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg said, “The idea here is that Match Play has the potential to be a recurring event.”
There have been rumors for several months about the tournament coming to Harding Park. The tour’s contract with title sponsor Accenture ended after this year’s event, leaving Match Play’s future in doubt.
While a sponsor still has yet to be named, the event appears to have a new home for at least a year.
Another issue that remains to be resolved is the tournament’s format. Historically, the top 64 golfers in the world qualify for the event and then are placed in an NCAA bracket-style format, where they’re pitted in head-to-head matches. The problem, for some, is that due to the unpredictability of match play, this frequently leads to big names eliminated early.
I don’t really get this concern. I mean, I thought the Jason Day vs. Victor Dubuisson match in February was absolutely riveting. Okay, okay, I know, it doesn’t make for the best TV and those names don’t exactly move the needle, but if you’re a fan, there was some damn good golf played between those two, with added drama in the extra holes.
It’s yet to be determined (at least publicly announced) what the new format will be, but it supposedly will ensure that (marquee) players are guaranteed more than one day of competition.
I’ve played Harding Park before and I watched the Presidents Cup in 2009, but I can’t remember the course well enough to judge whether it will provide good drama for match play. Thoughts, anyone?