It used to be that the Masters was considered the “real” start of the professional golf season, but since 1999, a good argument can be made for the Accenture Match Play Championship, the first of the World Golf Championship events.  Designed to bring the top 64 players in the world together, the event has the anticipation of the NCAA basketball tournament…at least, that is, prior to the event.  However, usually after a couple of days most of the top players are knocked out of the event, which definitely has an air-out-of-the-balloon feel.  In truth, the event almost always is a downer once the Sweet Sixteen is reached.  The bottom line is that the event is literally a crapshoot, with outcomes being decided after only 18 holes.  A normal golf tournament is four rounds.  Having an outcome after just one round is like having an outcome after only one quarter of football.  If this were the case, even downtrodden Duke would have a chance against an Alabama or Auburn. This year, Tiger Woods and defending champion Ian Poulter were knocked out after only one day.  One of the complaints of the players is that they might travel halfway around the world, only to play one day.  What if there was a way to prevent this from happening, along with lessening the crapshoot aspect of the tournament, and making it more likely that the top players made it to the round of 16?  Well, there IS a way, and here it is: Divide the 64 players into 16 groups of four, and have each player play everyone in their group.  This is the same format that the World Cup of Soccer uses, and would assure that everyone hangs around for three days, Wednesday through Friday.  No more Tiger or another big name gone after one day.  As for the seedings, group the #1 player with numbers 64, 63, and 62.  Put #2 with numbers 61, 60, and 59, etc.  By “toploading” each group, it makes it far more likely that the top stars will win their groups.  At the end of Friday, you have 16 group winners advancing into Saturday’s Sweet Sixteen (in case of a tie for group winner, either a tiebreaker of some sort – or better yet, sudden death – can be implemented).  Now you play the Sweet Sixteen on Saturday morning, the quarterfinals Saturday afternoon, the semi-finals Sunday morning, and the finals Sunday afternoon. The only possible downside to this format is that it is more complicated to follow, but we submit the positives far outweigh the negatives.  Having everyone around for at least three days, more top players going deeper into the tournament, and lessening the crapshoot aspect are all strong positives that everyone can agree on.
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