Should Doral have been made into a WGC event?

Originally Published: March 6, 2006
ESPN.com/Golf Digest

The great thing about full-field events on the PGA Tour? It means anyone -- and we mean anyone -- entered in the field can win.

The great thing about WGC events? It means only the world's top players will compete, often giving fans a star-studded leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.

It's already been decided that the annual event at Doral will transform from regular full-field tournament into a WGC event for next season and beyond under the new title of CA Championship. Is this the right move? ESPN.com Bob Harig and Golf World's Ron Sirak debate in this edition of Alternate Shot.

Should Doral have been made into a WGC event?
YES

Making Doral a World Golf Championship event was absolutely the right thing to do. The tournament is one of the oldest on tour -- closing in on a half-century -- and becoming a WGC event is a natural evolution from its former role as the unofficial "real" start of the PGA Tour season.

Although it does lose its position on the calendar as the first event when the tour comes back East, it is now set up to replace The Players Championship as the springboard to The Masters. With the Players moving to May in 2007, the Doral event stands alone as the premier event in March.

Both the WGC designation (and the large purse that goes with it) and its juxtaposition to the Masters will maintain the Class-A field the Doral event reclaimed in the last couple of years under Ford's sponsorship. Fields that talented had become rare at Doral after the creation of the WGC Accenture Match Play.

What the tour has created is a perfectly balanced schedule with a top-tier event every month from February through September. There is the Match Play (February), Doral (March), Masters (April), Players (May), U.S. Open (June), British Open (July), PGA Championship (August) and Tour Championship (September). What the tour has done by making Doral a WGC event is formalize its position as one of the top tournaments in professional golf.

Look for more great finishes like we have had here the last two years.

-- Ron Sirak
Golf World

NO

For 20 years, the PGA Tour event at Doral has kicked off the Florida swing of tournaments. There was a time when it was considered the unofficial start to the season. Players viewed it as the time to get serious. The Masters was only a month away, and Doral brought that into focus.

All of that changed after Sunday's final round of the Ford Championship at Doral. A tournament that for 45 years has been part of the Florida Swing, many years going first, will now move to the end of the month as a World Golf Championship event, and be known as the CA Championship.

That is great for the golf fans of Miami, who are guaranteed a field of the top 50 in the world ranking and 70-some players who will be there for all four days, as there is no cut.

But it's not so good for the rank-and-file PGA Tour players who won't get an opportunity to play in the venerable tournament. It's not so good for other venues and fans around the world who believe that a tournament with "world'' in the name should actually move around. And it's not so good for the other tournaments in Florida that can't compete with a big-money world event. All three are compelling arguments against.

The schedule will now have two World events in a month, the Match Play followed four weeks later by the CA Championship. That's two tournaments that will exclude a good number of PGA Tour players. Neither is scheduled to move from Tucson, Ariz., or Miami, sort of making a mockery of the idea of "world" golf events. And the three Florida tournaments between them can't possibly compete, meaning they will undoubtedly have weaker fields.

In moving the Players Championship out of the last week of March, the PGA Tour, among other things, sought to get the tournament out of the long shadow cast by the Masters, which is just two weeks later.

The CA Championship at Doral will now have to deal with the same issues, while causing other concerns. It's a shame, because the tournament and its date were just fine.

-- Bob Harig
ESPN.com

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