It’s a wonderful event but it’s comfortably bottom of the pile when compared against the other three majors. Dan Murphy has a plan to give the PGA Championship the boost it so badly needs
The PGA Championship is, by any other standards, an exceptionally strong event and a highlight of the golfing year. Unfortunately, the standard it is most often judged by is as a major, where it comes a pretty comfortable fourth place.
Unless you are called Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, YE Yang, Jeff Sluman or Keegan Bradley, to name a but a few one-time major winners whose success came at the PGA, you are unlikely to argue that it is anything other than the fourth of the majors.
In the circumstances, then, it would surely to smart to give yourself a point of difference. So I have a three-point plan…
1. Revert to match play
The most obvious way for the PGA to do that is to revert back to its heritage as a match play event.
We know the arguments against it, notably some of the players’ dislike of being sent packing after a first-round defeat and the broadcasters’ fears of underwhelming latter stages with the box office names already knocked out.
To the players I would say: Hard luck. There are plenty of other weeks when you can play 72 holes.
To the broadcasters I would say: Yes, that’s possible, but the excitement in the earlier rounds will more than make up for it.
2. Make it a week long
As for format, I think the WGC-Match Play had it right in its earlier years with one important caveat.
I would start on Monday with qualifying rounds so that the championship proper could begin on Wednesday with 128 players. That’s when the big guns would start.
Thursday would be the last 64, Friday the last 32, Saturday the last 16 and then the quarter-finals, with Sunday seeing the semi-final and Championship match plus a third-place play-off to give the broadcasters more golf to show.
3. Make it an Open draw
Crucially, I would advocate no seeding. Like the FA Cup, I would draw each round out of a hat at the end of play for the following day. The daily draws would become real highlights of the event. You would get the odd first-round match between heavyweights. Others might sneak quietly into the latter stages.
There’s no need to over-engineer the draw – all that happens is one rogue result throws the whole tournament of kilter. Better to take it one day at a time and enjoy the drama.
Imagine Brooks Koepka drawing DJ in the first round, followed by Rickie, Bryson and JT. While Rory pulled out Brendon Todd, then Kevin Na, Harris English and Abraham Ancer.
It would be volatile, raw, and engrossing – surely just what sports fans love?
Do you agree with Dan that the PGA Championship needs a change of format? Let us know in the comments below or you can tweet us.
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