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Stephen Gallacher column: Get rid of the halved games to make WGC Match Play more exciting

Billy Horschel holds his trophy after winning the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship.
Billy Horschel holds his trophy after winning the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship.

The WGC Match Play was a good watch but the format needs revised.

The group matches would have been far more exciting if they had played to a finish rather than having matches ending in a tie.

It would have been better to get a definitive winner, even if that meant playing six or seven extra holes to get a winner.

For some players, a draw was good enough, so it would change the mindset if they knew the tie was going to finish as a win or a defeat.

In some matches, players came back from three or four down and the momentum was clearly with them, but they had to settle for a halved match instead of getting the win if they had another hole or two.

It would provide far more drama and excitement if all of these games reached a proper conclusion.

With so many great players in the tournament, I’m sure the organisers were a bit disappointed that the semi-finals consisted of players ranked 30, 31, 32 and 52 in the 64-man event.

The Austin Country Club course is a fiddly, tight track with lots of water where anything can happen, so it was maybe no surprise to see a few shock results.

My interest levels dropped after Victor Perez lost his semi-final against Scottie Scheffler. I watched the final between Scheffler and Billy Horschel, but it was a pretty slow contest.

They took four hours and 20 minutes to play 17 holes, which came in for criticism.

The conditions were windy and players will inevitably take longer in a final when they know they are on the cusp of winning a WGC event.

Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre can be proud of his efforts, especially winning a group that contained world number one Dustin Johnson.

Robert MacIntyre of Scotland on the 13th hole during his second round match against Dustin Johnson at the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship.

Unfortunately for him, he came up against Perez in fine form in the knockout stages, which ended his run.

But his place at The Masters has now been confirmed, so it has been a thoroughly great few weeks for the man from Oban – and hopefully the best is yet to come.

We have seen a few left-handed winners at Augusta in recent times, so hopefully it is a course that plays to Robert’s strengths.

European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington will have been encouraged by Robert’s performance, especially halving his match against Dustin.

The one good thing was Robert was unbeaten against the three American players he came up against in his group.

A great effort for his WGC Match Play debut.

He will be in good spirits in the run-up to The Masters and he looked comfortable on that stage.

He has no reason to be worried as he has been a European Tour rookie of the year, he is a winner on the European Tour and he has played rounds alongside the likes of Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler.

There will still be nerves, but it will be a feeling of excitement rather than feeling overawed or daunted by the occasion.

Sandy will fly the flag for Scotland

Congratulations to Nairn’s Sandy Scott for making the Great Britain and Ireland team for the Walker Cup.

Sandy is the only Scot in the team, apart from non-playing captain Stuart Wilson, and he merits his place for playing to a very high level on a consistent basis in America.

It is a shame that the team has been picked in a different way to normal because of the pandemic.

I feel sorry for the other top amateurs from Scotland who weren’t really able to make a push for the team.

The big amateur events in Scotland were cancelled very early last year and they had nothing to play in.

This year is the same, so the team isn’t really being based on current form – because there isn’t anything to go on.

The scheduled Home Internationals at Royal Dornoch in April would have been a great chance for players to show what they can do but that was cancelled.

Sandy was always going to be picked for the team but I’m sure we could have had another couple of Scots had the situation been different.

Hopefully they can get the win. They are going to a great golf course at Seminole in Florida and it will be a great experience for the players involved.

Andy’s bag idea for new sports career

Finally, it was interesting to read Andy Murray say that he would like to become a caddie when he hangs up his racquet.

I’m not sure if he was being entirely serious, but the three-time Grand Slam champion said in a recent interview that he really likes his golf and would find being a caddie for a Tour player very exciting.

Andy Murray.

Maybe when he picks up the big bag when it’s raining he might change his mind.

It would be great for golf if he did take up caddying, even for one or two events.

He also said he was interested in the crossover between the two sports on the mental side and I think there are lots of similarities.

Andy would be a great person to talk to some of our elite amateur golfers, if he was open to that idea, because I think any young sportsman could learn something from talking to someone who has achieved as much as him.

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