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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Teamless Team Play

If you watched any of the World Cup of Golf on GC Wednesday night, you may have gotten a surprise. (The tournament is at Royal Melbourne in Australia this year, so Thursday "started early" there -- at least, early for the East Coast of the USA.)

Kuchar and Woodland -- 2011 winners

Namely, the team aspect that has characterized the WCoG in the past is a thing of the past. To quote an AP article from ABCNEWS.com:
The format has been substantially changed this year to make it primarily a stroke-play competition and, in essence, a very early "test event" for the 2016 Olympics, where golf will make its return to the program. The World Golf Ranking was used as the deciding factor in who plays this week at Royal Melbourne, and that and eligibility for numbers of players allowed from each country will also be used at Rio in three years. Rio won't feature a team competition, which is being retained here as part of the original World Cup format.
As a result, there are both teams and individual golfers playing in the event this time since several countries didn't have two eligible players. The article says there are "25 two-man teams and eight to 10 individual golfers."

The "team competition" mentioned in the article is just the combined total of the individual scores of the two-man teams from each country. It's nothing like the team play of past World Cups.

I can see the logic behind this move. If golf is to successfully survive its test appearance as an Olympic event, organizers need to find a good way to determine who will actually compete. Will the OWGR give the participating nations a fair representation at the Games? It's better to find out now while there's still time to tweak the selection process, and they can't use a regular Tour event since participation there is a matter of Tour membership.

Still, I miss the team play. We don't get to see much fourball or foursome play as it is, and the World Cup has been the main yearly event that provides it. From a viewer standpoint, now it's just another 72-hole stroke play event. Maybe they're return it to the original team format once the Olympic complications have been figured out.

I certainly hope so. At least the players get world ranking points this time... but I'm not so sure they wouldn't prefer a teammate to help read the tricky greens at Royal Melbourne.

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