The WGC–Dell Technologies Match Play returns to Austin Country Club next month. Where the tournament will be contested next year is a different matter.
Overnight, Golfweek reported that 2023 will be the final year of the event in its current iteration as it seeks a new site and sponsor. Two sources familiar with the situation confirmed the news to Golf Digest.
A PGA Tour spokesperson told Golf Digest, “As we navigate the many moving parts related to the structural changes to the 2024 PGA Tour schedule, discussions are ongoing in regards to the WGC–Dell Technologies Match Play beyond this year. We remain focused on putting on an incredibly successful 2023 WGC–Dell Technologies Match Play event for our fans and we expect to announce details about the future of the event when they are available.”
The WGC–Match Play began in 1999 and was held in California’s La Costa Country Club for seven of its first eight years before an eight-year run in Tucson, Arizona. It took a trip to TPC Harding Park in San Francisco in 2015 before moving to Austin Country Club in 2016, with Dell taking over as the primary sponsor. In 2019, Dell signed a four-year extension to continue its stewardship.
However, Golfweek reports that Austin Country Club asked for an increased price for hosting duties from the tour, a move that did not go over well at tour headquarters. Multiple sources familiar with the situation confirmed to Golf Digest the request from the club for the price increase was made and had become a sticking point. Those sources also pointed to the continued overall flux in creating the 2024 schedule, which will include the tour’s new “designated” events created in the wake of the schism happening in professional golf, as a reason for leaving Austin.
Sources tell Golf Digest the tour remains hopeful that it will continue to hold a matchplay tournament and is already in talks with numerous sites and sponsors, including existing tour spots.
One upshot of the tour’s decision to leave Austin Country Club is the potential change of dates for the revived Houston Open. Jim Crane, a businessman and owner of the Houston Astros who operates the tour stop, has been vocal in wanting his event moved from the American autumn, when it’s been played since 2019, back to the northern spring. According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, Crane has expressed a possible partnership with LIV Golf should his wishes not be met. It is unclear if a spring move would make Houston a “designated” event or a possible Match Play host.
The tour’s exit from Austin will mark the end of the World Golf Championships series. Created in 1999, the WGCs were four events sanctioned by the International Federation of PGA Tours in hopes of gathering the sport’s best outside the four Major championships. The WGCs were official money events on the PGA and European Tours, and were sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Japan Golf Tour, Sunshine Tour and our own PGA Tour of Australasia. The fields were limited and were often no-cut events, and all featured exuberant purses. Eighteen of Tiger Woods’ 82 PGA Tour wins came at WGC events, with Dustin Johnson winning six WGC events in his tour career.
But the WGC–Invitational and WGC–Championship were removed from the PGA Tour schedule last year, and the WGC–HSBC Champions – played in Shanghai in China – has not been held since 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Moreover, with the introduction of the PGA Tour’s designated events, the WGCs have essentially been replaced.
This year’s WGC–Match Play begins on March 22. The first three days will feature round-robin pool play before moving to single elimination matches for the final 16 players. Scottie Scheffler is the defending champ.