Who will win the Match Play?

Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

The WGC Dell Match Play goes this week with the world’s top golfers bracketed like college basketball teams. What’s your dream pairing for a Final Four and who do like as the favourite to win it all?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Not very original, I’m afraid, but I’d love to see Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and an underdog in the final four.  It would’ve been great if the underdog could’ve been Adam Hadwin, but he’s got more important things on his mind… like, lifelong marital bliss.  So, my designated underdog would be Phil Mickelson.  What a Grand Finale that would be on Saturday/Sunday.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): My dream Final Four would be: Day, Spieth, DJ and Sergio. I like Day to go repeat. He absolutely BOMBS it and putts it just a bit better than DJ.

Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): My dream Final Four for this week would be Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth.  Favourite this week has to be McIlroy. The Northern Irishman has a career 22-9 record in the event and has been playing extremely well since returning from injury. I like his chances to win a second WGC-Match Play.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I’d love to see Spieth vs DJ and Rory vs Phil in the semis, and then the short game prowess of Spieth vs the power and ball striking of Rory in the final.  I think it would be a fun contrast, and obviously pit two of the best in the world against each other, which would only add to the excitement leading into the Masters in two weeks!

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Love this event, now that it’s played on a real course and not a developer’s fantasy. The final twosome should be Rory and DJ. Must see, must record TV – a golf fan’s Super Bowl. I’m a fan, have loved the way he moves through the ball since he was a teenager, so Rory should win it based on skill and technique, and the way he’s putting heading into Austin.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): I’m not a fan of the goofy round robin format before they cut down to the Sweet 16 but presumably it makes it even more likely the favourites will get through. I’d like to see a McIlroy vs Reed match and a Day vs Spieth match in the Final Four with Spieth and McIlroy in the final. That’s a toss-up but I think Spieth would come out on top.

The Arnold Palmer Invitational has chosen to honour the winner with a red cardigan instead of the traditional blue blazer that past API champions received. What do you think of the change and what do you think of players getting special clothing for winning an event?

Deeks: To me, there’s only one piece of clothing that has any real value or resonance, and that’s the Green Jacket.  I think a red cardigan is kind of stupid, and doesn’t suit as a symbol for The King as well as a navy jacket did.  Better to give the winner a pair of pants that constantly need hitching up.  Or a pack of L&M’s.  Or how about a multi-colour umbrella with an engraved, gold-plated handle?

Loughry: I like the change, but those winners are quite unlikely to wear it. Those Green jackets are pretty special though. This is unique in that golf started this tradition, and I hope it never changes (sets us apart from other sports).

Kaplan: I like the change. The red cardigan evokes memories of Arnold Palmer and adds a nice touch to the trophy ceremony. I’m all for the Green Jacket and the Red Cardigan and whatever pieces of clothing future tournaments are going to award its winners. Hopefully, the Hero World Challenge will follow suit and start giving out red shirts and black pants to its champions.

Rule: I’ve never been a big fan of the winner getting clothing, except the Masters for some reason, why am I ok with that?  Not sure.  Maybe I’m just bitter because the winner of my club championship gets a nice burgundy jacket, and I’ve had to watch four guys put the jacket on while I finished second.  Maybe that’s it, not sure.  Yeah, actually, that’s probably it!  But honestly, I think the cardigan is a nice gesture to honour the King!

Quinn: When was the last time you saw someone wearing a cardigan, and how many millennials can even spell it? It’s cool, but it may be pressing the Arnie legacy a bit hard. The yellow one was better anyway. The Harbour Town plaid has to be retired. No hyper-logo-ed shirt goes with that.

Mumford: You’ve got to be kidding! When was the last time anybody even saw a cardigan, let alone wore one? To think it might become as symbolic of winning the API as a Masters Green Jacket is plain silly. I’m not even sure it’s a great tribute to Arnie, who was quite the fashion plate in his hey day and likely thought of cardigans as something he’d wear when he got old to hide a coffee stain on his shirt. As most everyone has mentioned, any blazer other than the Masters Green Jacket is a copycat move and should be abolished. They all remind me of something you’d get for winning a real estate sales contest.

Muirfield Golf Club in Scotland recently voted to admit women members for the first time, allegedly to get back into the Open Championship rota. Should the R&A immediately add Muirfield to the schedule or make them sweat a while for their stubbornness?

Deeks: Oh hell, put them back in the rota immediately (as I believe they have indicated they will, with a chance for 2022.)  Most of the Neanderthals will be dead by then, anyway.

Kaplan: I’ve got no problem with the R&A taking its sweet time to add Muirfield back into the Open Championship Rota. It will likely be a minimum of three years until the first female members tee off at Muirfield so I think it’s only appropriate that the R&A shelves the discussion until at least then.

Rule: This is a tough one.  I’ve always said that I have no issues with any private club putting whatever restrictions they want on membership, that’s their decision because they are a private club.  However, I won’t ever be a member at such a club, and I do applaud the R&A for standing its ground on not allowing gender biased clubs to be part of the Open rota.  The re-vote was clearly done for one reason and one reason only, and that was to be reinstated in the rota.  Rory’s comments were loud and clear and I think he echoes the thoughts of many, and I’m glad he was able to speak his mind so clearly.  In an ideal world, the R&A would delay the decision to reinstate Muirfield, but I don’t see that happening.

Quinn: Reminds me of learning that a few high profile male Toronto media types had joined the Toronto Ladies Golf Club. You could look it up. The ladies were not impressed. The question on the Open ROTA decision is how many women have sought membership at Muirfield (why would they?) and been refused. Having played it — on an August morning that ended like a November assault — am hard pressed to think of any of my women friends  (or males) who would be inclined to even enquire about membership. The point is beyond moot – of course the course should be open, but membership has its liabilities.

Mumford: It sounds like the earliest they could play The Open at Muirfield would be 2022. Frankly, I’d make them wait until at least 2027 and insist that they have more than a few token women members – maybe as much as 25% of the membership. My hunch is they’d have another vote and tell the R&A to shove it. No worries. There are lots of terrific courses in the UK and I’d like to see them expand the rota anyway to Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as a few inland courses like Gleneagles Kings and The K Club, assuming they all have the requisite open membership policies.

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