Our writer Rob McEvoy lives in Thailand. We could call him our Asia-Pacific correspondent but it's probably more accurate to say he's that guy from your golf club who creeps off to Bangkok every so often... for well... you know ;)
Anyway, this event wasn't on at 2am for him so he's filling us in on the Euruopean Tour's latest innovation and new format...
“The first step in solving any problem is recognizing you have one”
The European Tour finally recognized they had a problem, namely that European Tour golf is boring, so at this week’s ISPS Handa World Super 6 they used a format designed to bring excitement back to golf.
The 72 hole strokeplay borefest was ripped up, replaced with 54 holes of strokeplay from Thursday to Saturday, producing a top 24, who then play off in six hole matchplay matches to decide the winner on Sunday.
So, how was it?
Well, Thursday and Friday were as boring as every other Thursday and Friday on the European Tour.
Saturday however was much improved, with the action around the cut off points of eighth (Top eight get a bye to the second round of matchplay) and 24th giving it a lot more relevance.
An eight man play off hole to decide places to 20 – 24, who could still win, and those going home was the highlight. Much better than watching someone I don’t care about move from 10 back to four back.
Sunday was the big day. Could this format engage me for the full day?
Well, yes it could. The six hole format gave enhanced importance to every shot, and matchplay gave every match the feel of a tennis match, or boxing even. The golf and the excitement it generated stood out, showing it doesn’t need gimmicks like music and fireworks, or cars for holes in one.
It was genuinely exciting, with the pressure that must also exist in elite strokeplay being more obvious. The play off hole, an 80 yard par 3 with a really tricky pin, was used to decide matches that were all square really added to the Quarter Finals, with Oosthuizen vs Adam Bland’s 3 hole play off everything that Storm vs McIlroy was not.
The final showed why matchplay is the best format for TV. The pressure and tension took its toll on the golf, but matchplay, where you can win holes from the trees as your opponent bollocks it from Position A is top entertainment.
The emotion and pressure, joy and disappointment were clear on the player's and crowds faces, as the home town hero, and 54 hole leader, Brett Rumford edged to victory.
Could it be improved?
Of course, this was a first attempt.
There will be tweaks, and hopefully a review of what TV needs to do to showcase it properly (clue – better graphics, more information).
The big improvement would be to get the big stars playing Super 6. Watching six hole matches between Rory, DJ, Spieth etc on the best courses in the world with a zillion dollar prize could be a game changer for golf.
The players seemed to love it, as did the on course crowd, so let’s hope that happens sooner rather than later.
Overall though, the aim of bring excitement back to golf was achieved. Can’t wait for the next one.
Inventor of ChippingPro (plug), likes links golf in the wind. Think Chad Campbell is a very handsome man