DORAL, Fla. (AP) — Henrik Stenson says he is not going to the Dell Match Play later this month, mainly because of where it falls on the schedule.
Making the decision all the more easier is that Stenson doesn’t care for the new format.
“There was always the chance one or two guys would miss due to the schedule,” Stenson said Tuesday.
The Match Play is for the top 64 players available from the world ranking after next week. Stenson (No. 6) is the second player who won’t be there. Jim Furyk (No. 14) is recovering from wrist surgery.
Match Play had been the anchor of the West Coast Swing since its inception in 1999 until 2014, when Accenture did not renew as title sponsor.
It was played last year in San Francisco and switched from single elimination to a round-robin format to make sure all 64 players had at least three matches.
It now is at Austin Country Club in Texas, one week after the Arnold Palmer Invitational and followed by the Shell Houston Open and the Masters.
Stenson had surgery on his right knee on Dec. 9. His plan in the early part of the season was to play three straight tournaments, followed by three weeks off, and then three more tournaments as he worked his way to the Masters.
He played the Middle East swing, though he missed the middle event (Qatar) as a precaution.
Match Play would be his fourth straight event. He also prefers to play Houston before going to Augusta National.
Stenson also is among some players who preferred the old “knockout” style of Match Play, even if that meant lasting only one day. The 39-year-old Swede won the Match Play in 2007 and lost in the semifinals a year later.
There were no halved matches in round-robin play last year. Stenson and John Senden were tied after 18 holes in the opening match and Stenson was headed to the clubhouse when he realized they had to go extra holes. Senden beat him, and then the Aussie clinched his pool by winning the next day. That meant Stenson played on Friday, knowing he couldn’t advance.
“I understand why they’ve done it. They want more players to stay longer,” he said. “Match play is always more intense. A match is like Sunday (in contention). Three rounds of that and not advancing takes a lot out of you.”
This year, the format has been tweaked to allow for halved matches during group play.
Match Play isn’t the only World Golf Championship he will miss this year. Stenson said he also won’t play the Bridgestone Invitational, which this year is opposite the French Open. That’s when he plays most of his golf in Europe, though Stenson said he isn’t playing the French Open, either. That falls during one of his breaks.
“I’m not making everyone happy,” he said.