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Rory McIlroy has called for a change to the group stage of the WGC-Match Play after opting out of last week's event.
Speaking ahead of this week’s Valero Texas Open, McIlroy said he thinks tweaks are needed to the WGC-Match Play to make it more appealing. He said: "I’d love to see it just go back to single-elimination, and if you don’t have a great day one of those first three days, just to be able to get home and do what you want to do. There’s pros and cons to both formats, obviously, but I think just going back to like a pure match play knockout format I think would get a better field.”
As well as the group structure of the WGC-Match Play’s early rounds, McIlroy also explained that he wasn’t comfortable playing match play golf so close to The Masters - arguably the biggest stroke play event of the calendar. He said: “I wanted to play stroke play as well. I think that’s the other thing. I wanted my last competitive start before Augusta to be a stroke play event instead of match play. It’s two completely different mindsets.”
McIlroy will hope his decision to miss last week’s tournament, which was won by Scottie Scheffler, proves wise. After all, he needs a Masters win to complete a career Grand Slam and clearly sees playing at TPC San Antonio as his most effective way of preparing for the challenge. He also emphasised some similarities between the Texan course and Augusta National, which he hopes will be helpful for next week:
“I think around the greens here is, it can prepare you. I think the runoffs around the greens, the undulations on the greens, some of the shots you face if you do, if you do miss it, I think that’s - and some of the bunkering around this course, the bunkers are pretty deep around the greenside. I think more so around the greens and sort of off the tee. This is a generous course off the tee, Augusta’s somewhat generous as well, but it’s just a different look. I think around the greens, more sort of the chipping and pitching aspects are good preparation.”
McIlroy last played the Valero Texas Open in 2013 and finished second. Despite The Masters drawing close, he explained that, for now, his focus is on going one better than his performance nine years ago, saying: “I don’t want to make this week all about Augusta. I still want to be here and compete and try to win this golf tournament, but yeah, I just wanted to mix it up and I’m glad to be back.”
VIDEO: THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT RORY MCILROY
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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