Source: WGC-Match Play set for May

Updated: July 1, 2014, 12:32 AM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

The World Golf Championship-Match Play event is headed to San Francisco's Harding Park in May, according to a source, with an official announcement expected Wednesday.

The San Francisco Chronicle first reported the news Monday, citing a source close to the PGA Tour. The paper said there is a one-year deal to play the WGC event at the venue that hosted the 2009 Presidents Cup and that is also slated to get the 2020 PGA Championship and 2025 Presidents Cup.

The WGC tournaments began in 1999 and the Match Play had been played at Dove Mountain near Tuscon, Ariz., the past eight years, with Jason Day winning the title this year. But Accenture had dropped its sponsorship of the tournament, and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem acknowledged that the event's future was undecided.

And when the Valero Texas Open made the decision to play its 2015 tournament prior to the Masters, it left no space on the schedule for the Match Play to take place in February. The only open date next year is in May, and unless some other juggling occurs, it is expected the event will follow the PGA Tour's flagship event, the Players Championship.

Greg McLaughlin, who recently joined the PGA Tour after 14 years as president and CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation, is expected to have a role with the Match Play and perhaps with all four of the WGC tournaments. The others are the WGC-Cadillac Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the WGC-HSBC Champions, which is played in China.

It is unclear if the PGA Tour has secured a title sponsor, but it would almost be essential. The WGC events carry $9-million purses, with only the Players and PGA Championship boasting larger payouts at $10-million. Since the tour supports the Players with presenting sponsors, it would be unlikely for it to underwrite another huge purse.

Also to be decided is the tournament's format. Since its inception in 1999, the tournament has used a 64-player straight match play format, with the event beginning on Wednesday with 32 matches, whittling down to a Sunday final.

Finchem said in February that the tour was contemplating other ideas that would keep players around for more than one day of competition, such as stroke-play qualifying for match play or a round robin match play format that would lead to a knockout stage.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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