“There were people who thought the association was wrong for giving up on match play,” Finsterwald said. “But if you look back, television was coming on. And match play didn’t lend itself to TV. The other thing about match play is that golf was becoming more popular, and with the gallery being so large, you got to the semifinals and had 25,000 people trying to watch two matches.”
He also pointed out one other problem that is true even today.
“You run the risk of not having Tiger in the final,” he said.
Snead played that starring role in 1957, and it was Finsterwald who eliminated him in the fourth round in 1957.
“I wasn’t a household name,” he said. “And I’m not sure they got the attendance they hoped for.”
Match play made a brief return to golf in the 1980s, an experiment that lasted only two years. It was resurrected in 1999 as part of the World Golf Championships, and there is a place for it one time on the PGA Tour schedule.
But for a major?
“If it turned out like this year, everybody would love match play,” Ogilvy said, referring to Woods winning for the third time, and reaching the finals for the fourth time in nine years. “But if Tiger and Phil go out in the first two rounds, everybody goes home. Imagine planning your whole year around watching Tiger or Phil play in the PGA, you get a Saturday ticket and they’re already gone.”
In its place is a major that looks like the others, minus an identity that has been easy to market. Even so, the PGA Championship has delivered some great moments over the last 20 years, from the arrival of John Daly to the rainbow for Davis Love III, from Woods’ playoff win over unheralded Bob May to David Toms laying on the final hole and beating Mickelson with a par putt.
“If you had to rank it, the PGA is probably fourth on everyone’s list,” Tim Clark said. “But ask a player if he wants to win it, and I’ll guarantee he’ll tell you ’Yes.’ When it comes to winning a major, it really doesn’t matter which one.”
At Oakland Hills Country Club
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