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Harding Park Hat Trick: Match Play, PGA, Presidents Cup Coming to Bay Area


T


he Group of Death is coming to Harding Park. So is a major. And another Presidents Cup. That’s quite the hat trick. The PGA Tour and the PGA of


America proudly announced on July 2 that TPC Harding Park has landed a trio of prestigious events over the next 11 years: the revamped World Cup-style Match Play Championship in 2015, its first PGA Championship in 2020, and its second Presidents Cup in 2025. Couple that with the 2005 WGC-


American Express Championship (which Tiger Woods won in a playoff over John Daly), the 2009 Presidents Cup and three Schwab Cups (the season-ending Champions Tour event), and it’s obvious that the revitalized Harding Park is back on the champi- onship golf map. “Harding Park was an excellent host for the WGC event and the Presi- dents Cup,” Phil Mickelson said. “It deserves the opportunity now to host a major championship, and I’m excited for the course and the city to have one of golf ’s biggest events.” San Francisco has become a recent


hub for championship golf. The LPGA returned to Northern California for the first time since 2010 when Lake Merced hosted the Swing Skirts Classic, won by Lydia Ko the last weekend of April. The Swinging Skirts will return to


Lake Merced in 2015, and could tee off a busy couple weeks in the Bay Area. The inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship is scheduled from April 30 to May 6 at The Olympic Club, host of the 2012 U.S. Open. And the Match Play Championship is slated for April 29 to May 3—the week before the Players Championship. “We learned about the enthusiasm


of the fans in the Bay Area, the diversity of the fans, the intelligence of the fans, and our players noticed,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem about previously hosting the WGC and Presidents Cup at Harding Park. The PGA Tour is unveiling a


new format for the 2015 Match Play Championship, ditching the March Madness-style and upset-ravaged 64-player knockout bracket for a World Cup-like setup. The 64-player field will be divided into 16 groups of four, and the first three days will feature round-robin play. After every golfer has played a match against the other three in his group, the winner advances to the Round of 16 and a knockout bracket. Let the debates over who drew the


Group of Death begin. “It’s a lot more golf,” Finchem said.


“There are going to be 96 matches for fans here to go out and watch on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Over time, the best players rise to the top, so we think that’ll be positive as it goes into the weekend.”


With no goal differentials, ties will


be broken via head-to-head record. If three players are tied for the group lead, there will be a sudden-death playoff. “We know Harding Park sets up so


well for match play, which was certainly a factor in deciding to bring it here,” Finchem said. Harding Park also sets up well for the first PGA Championship in Cali- fornia since 1995 at Riviera. The only time the PGA Championship came to Northern California was Pebble Beach in 1977. “The PGA Championship is going


to be played in back-to-back years at two of the great municipal golf courses in this country: Bethpage Black on the East Coast in 2019 and Harding Park on the West Coast in 2020,” said Ted Bishop, president of the PGA of America. “For the PGA of America to play our championship in consecutive years at municipal golf courses makes a very profound statement. Public golf is a primary entry point for golf in this country, as 80% of rounds are played on public golf courses.” The PGA of America is also excited


to capitalize on the same prime time audience that made recent U.S. Opens at Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and The Olympic Club so successful. “The 2020 PGA Championship


is going to give us the opportunity really to showcase the strongest field in all of major golf during primetime television,” Bishop said.


–K. M.


18th Hole


PHOTO: JOANN DOST


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