McIlroy Calls For WGC-Match Play Format Change

The 32-year-old would prefer a single-elimination format over the current group structure

Rory McIlroy plays a tee shot at the 2022 Players Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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.”


Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

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.