Fate of Accenture Match Play looms large as PGA Tour plans for future

wgc-accenture match play
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The skies over Tucson might not be so happy if the WGC-Accenture Match Play ends up relocating.
By
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series:

Published: Sunday, March 06, 2011 | 5:55 p.m.

The World Golf Championships, which used to actually move around the world, have been in the same U.S. cities for the last five years. That could change with a new television contract.

For now, most of the attention is on the recently completed WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

It moved to the high desert north of Tucson in 2007, and the four-year contract with Dove Mountain ended in the sleet and snow at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. There is an option for another year, and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said speculation that the Accenture Match Play is moving for 2012 would be “inaccurate.”

“I’d say right now that the most likely scenario is going to be it stays here,” Finchem said.

So much depends on the rest of the schedule.

The tour is about to enter negotiations on a new television contract, which expires in 2012. Tour executives have been hammering out various models in recent months and are close to presenting a proposed schedule of events.

“We’re not uncomfortable”  there, Finchem said. “It’s worked well and we have a good partnership with the people here. The facilities are great. It’s just that as we get into television later this year, it forces us to look at the overall calendar and make sure the calendar works. As you know, there’s a lot of moving parts to that.”

Chief among them is whether the NFL schedule expands and pushes the Super Bowl deep in February. Another part of the equation is the Fall Series and the tour’s interest in adding tournaments in Asia. It already has one in Malaysia, along with the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

“Then you have the traditional part of it, which is tournaments wanting to move in certain situations,” he said. “Right now, this tournament is at the end of the West Coast, and that appears to be a strong possibility that would continue.”

Finchem said the tour would decide on the Match Play venue within three months to give local organizers time to prepare. Then again, that’s also true for all the PGA Tour events on the West Coast swing, and even some in Florida.

It’s all about the calendar.

“Like here, if we wanted to play this a lot earlier, it gets to be a struggle weather-wise,” he said. “All the WGCs, China included, you’ve got to be careful in terms of player movement and making sure it fits with the different tours. We’ve already created problems with ourselves globally with the expanded season. It’s complicated.”

Part of the headache later this year is the South African Open being held the same week as the Presidents Cup, especially with the top five players in the International team standings from South Africa.

As for the Match Play Championship?

“I’d say we’re going to review it, and the likely conclusion is we stay,” he said. “But it’s not about here. It’s about the calendar.”