Thanks a million
From Thursday to Sunday this week 16 of the world’s finest golfers are set to battle it out for the richest prize in golf, the £1m cheque on offer for the winner of the HSBC World Match Play Championship at Wentworth.
We will be covering no fewer than 28 hours live action over the four days with two hours on interactive in the mornings and five hours on BBC One and Two in the afternoons. And dear viewer we have finally heard your cries, “Why oh why do you repeat the morning’s play during your afternoon coverage?”………no more I promise you, at least not for this event, it will be live golf all the way.
Thursday 11 October
1015-1215 BBC Interactive
1300-1715 BBC Two
Friday 12 October
1030-1240 BBC Interactive
1330-1715 BBC Two
Saturday 13 October
1000-1230 BBC Interactive
1300-1430 BBC One
1430-1730 BBC Two
Sunday 14 October
1000-1200 BBC Interactive
1210-1700 BBC Two
For those who are unfamiliar with the format, the field of 16 players compete in 36-hole elimination matchplay rounds. I won’t bore you with the qualification criteria, suffice it to say that it is a combination of the top players who have performed best over the four majors and the leading players in the European Tour rankings as well as defending champion, England’s Paul Casey.
Be sure to press that red button on Thursday at 1015 BST as the draw has thrown up a real heavyweight clash between six-times champion Ernie Els and eight time European number one Colin Montgomerie. Els is seeded two, while Montie is seeded 15th and both have tremendous records on the West Course. Peter Alliss has already identified his pick of the matches as a clash of the US Champions passed and present, Retief Goosen of South Africa takes on this year’s winner Angel Cabrera….a nice little pre-cursor to Rugby World Cup Semi Final! Home hope, and number 5 seed, Justin Rose, will look to carry his fine form from last weekend’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in to a clash with in-form American Hunter Mahan.
First round draw (Seedings in brackets)
(1) Paul Casey (Eng) v (16) Jerry Kelly (US) 0815 and 1245
(8) Retief Goosen (SA) v (9) Angel Cabrera (Arg) 0827 and 1257
(5) Justin Rose (Eng) v (12) Hunter Mahan (US) 0839 and 1309
(4) Rory Sabbatini (SA) v (13) Soren Hansen (Den) 0851 and 1321
(3) Padraig Harrington (Ire) v (14) Anders Hansen (Den) 0903 and 1333
(6) Henrik Stenson (Swe) v (11) Woody Austin (US) 0915 and 1345
(7) Niclas Fasth (Swe) v (10) Andres Romero (Arg) 0927 and 1357
(2) Ernie Els (SA) v (15) Colin Montgomerie (Sco) 0939 and 1409
The World Match Play is a thrilling climax to BBC Television’s golfing year and the quality of the tournament is endorsed by the fact that in its 43-year history, 18 of the 23 players who have claimed the title have won 67 major championships. This year’s Open champion, Padraig Harrington could add to that list, he plays Denmark’s Anders Hansen. But sadly Tiger Woods won’t as he opts to spend more time with his new baby daughter Sam Alexis. One Sam who will be with us is Mr Torrance, he joins peter Alliss and Ken Brown in the commentary box whilst our on course team consists of Paul Eales, Maureen Madill and Andrew Cotter. Hazel Irvine presents the coverage.
I hope you will enjoy some of our trips down memory lane with our ‘Matchplay Duels’, a chance to recall some of the memorable encounters that have enthralled us down the years. It would be great to hear your favourites, maybe Player v Nicklaus in the '66 final, or perhaps O’Meara v Woods in '98. My personal favourite was the 1989 final when Nick Faldo beat Ian Woosnam in a low scoring and pulsating match where the only time Faldo led was when he won on the last hole with an eagle three from 20 feet; his back-nine score of 30 shots has never been bettered.
As well as our Matchplay Duels watch out for our ‘Matchplay Jewels’, Ken Brown will re-live a feast of fist pumping chip-ins, hole-in-ones, eagles and albatrosses that made this event one of the absolute favourites for players and crowds alike.
So forget your footy and rugga for a while, or perhaps as a nice little aperitif, and join us on Thursday for the start of our four days of live coverage.