The iconic white roof tents are coming down and all of the television satellite trucks have left The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain property where the Accenture Match Play Championship was held slightly more than a week ago. Thousands of golf fans made their way to the course for any number of reasons. Some were strictly business-related visits. For others, beer, sun and relaxing were the only ingredients necessary for a good time. Devotees of all ages were focused on obtaining the ever-popular autographs and photographs during the practice rounds, while others followed the golfers diligently each day and basked in their glory.
On Saturday, Feb. 26, Tucson resident Cory Heard and his 8-year-old son, Ethan, made the pilgrimage to the course.
“He is the reason we are out here. He wanted to come out today,” Cory said, pointing to his young son. “He wants Matt Kuchar or Martin Kaymer to win.”
Saturday marked one of a handful of days on which Cory visited the tournament.
“I have been out here all week,” Cory said. “I was out here with clients all week. Our company had tickets.”
That is not to say he didn’t enjoy seeing the professional golfers work their magic on the course, as Cory is a golfer himself.
“I love watching them play and getting kind of up close to the guys you only get to see on TV. Some of the shots they do are incredible,” he said.
This year’s tournament started with a devastating blow to the fan favorites when some of golf’s biggest names, like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, were defeated on the first day of competition. The losses made it more difficult for some spectators to plot out their next trip to watch the tournament.
“I’m a fan of golf,” Oro Valley resident Chris Bock said on the second to the last day of competition. “I’m a fan of all the guys who aren’t playing today,” he joked. “I wanted to see Tiger (Woods), but if he wasn’t here, I wanted to see Phil (Mickelson), and if Phil wasn’t here, I wanted to see Ian (Poulter), and if Ian wasn’t here, I wanted to see (Rickie) Fowler.”
By Saturday, all of those golfers had been eliminated from the competition.
With the tournament now only a memory, another potentially devastating blow hangs over the Accenture Match Play Championship. Will it return to Marana in 2011 and beyond?
Some suspect the tournament might not return due to the nature and style of match play, where some of the top golfers can be and are eliminated early on.
“I think it is a gorgeous course, but I wouldn’t recommend this for a venue again,” Bock said. “It should still be in Tucson, but this is just an inconvenient venue.
“For business purposes, for Marana, if they could make it a little more convenient, this is a great location. There are plenty of spaces up here where they could expand for parking.”
Joe Martinez, one of Bock’s friends, believes a change in the format or venue could prevent Match Play from attracting some of the golf’s bigger names.
“Tiger may not show up, but at least he is invited because (the tournament has) the top 64 golfers in the world,” Martinez said. “But if (the format) is like it was with the Tucson Open, Tiger didn’t come because it wasn’t a big event.”