The European Tour moves into new territory this week with the introduction of GolfSixes: Its golf…but not as you know it.
Team-focused match play over two days – things are going to get interesting this weekend in London.
Instead of the traditional four-day, 72 hole stroke play, Greensomes format will take its place, with the teams selecting their best tee shot and playing the alternate shot thereafter.
On Saturday the teams will be split into four groups of four, similar to the UEFA Champions League football group stages with the top two teams from each group progress to the knockout stages – the quarter-finals, the semi-finals, a 3rd/4th place play-off match and the final – all of which will be contested on Sunday.
Ryder Cup teammates Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan will pair up to represent England as the number one seeded team for the inaugural GolfSixes event.
Team France will feature last week’s Volvo China Open champion Alex Levy, now a four-time European Tour champion, he will be hoping to bring back his recent form from China alongside countryman Grégory Bourdy.
Of the 32 players, 19 have represented their country at professional level before. Only Sweden and the USA have both of their team members competing in a professional team event for the first time, while just three players in the field have tasted success in a professional two team partnership before, Bradley Dredge (2005 World Cup), Marc Warren (2007 World Cup) and Thorbjørn Olesen (2016 World Cup).
1. ENGLAND: Chris Wood, Andy Sullivan
2. THAILAND: Thongchai Jaidee, Kiradech Aphibarnrat
3. AUSTRALIA: Sam Brazel, Scott Hend
4. SOUTH AFRICA: Darren Fichardt, Brandon Stone
5. DENMARK: Thorbjørn Olesen, Lucas Bjerregaard
6. FRANCE: Alexander Levy, Grégory Bourdy
7. SPAIN: Pablo Larrazábal, Jorge Campillo
8. WALES: Bradley Dredge, Jamie Donaldson
9. USA: Paul Peterson, David Lipsky
10. NETHERLANDS; Joost Luiten, Reinier Saxton
11. BELGIUM: Nicolas Colsaerts, Thomas Detry
12. SWEDEN: Johan Carlsson,Joakim Lagergren
13. INDIA: S.S.P Chawrasia, Chikkarangappa S
14. PORTUGAL: Ricardo Gouveia, José-Filipe Lima
15. ITALY: Matteo Manassero, Renato Paratore
16. SCOTLAND: Richie Ramsay, Marc Warren
THE COURSE AND THE HOLES
Located to the North-west of London, the Centurion Club near St Albans was designed by Simon Gidman in 2013. Many of the carries and rough areas feature indigenous fescue grasses which have occasionally been added across approaches to greens or across fairways to give the course a distinct links feel.
Tees raised well above fairway level provide spectacular views across the landscape with some 80 bunkers and four major water features on the entire 18 hole course – all of which can be avoided by careful planning.
This week, players will face a modified 2276-yard, par 24 course, as the course transforms into the following six feature holes:
It’s show time: It’s all about the first tee experience, as players walk out to music and pyrotechnics. Fans will be gathered in grandstand seating, with big screens at both tee and green.
Birdies for Good: The European Tour’s charitable initiative takes centre stage, with donations to charity and giveaways for the crowd when birdies are carded on hole two.
Power: The 525 yard third hole is an opportunity for the players to demonstrate their power as the leaderboard is transformed into a long drive competition.
Shot clock: Speed is of the essence with the shot clock counting down from 40 seconds for each shot. There will be a stroke penalty for any breach of time, with digital clocks displayed at the green, fairway and tee.
Accuracy: This time, it’s about getting closest to the pin for the professionals, while fans can also take in the action from the Jamesons Irish Whisky Bar on hole five.
Finale: The final hole on the six-hole circuit will feature post-match interviews. On Sunday, any play-offs will tee off from a special tee box, while the trophy presentation will take place on a balcony overlooking the green.
DID YOU KNOW - GOLFSIXES
• The Centurion Club near St Albans is being used for European Tour competition for the very first time.
• The Centurion Club is the fourth course in the county of Hertfordshire to host European Tour competition. The other courses are: Moor Park (West), Hanbury Manor and The Grove.
• The event comprises of 16, two man teams. Of the 32 competitors, 23 have won a European Tour event.
• Of the 32 players, four have played in the Ryder Cup. They are: Nicolas Colsaerts, Jamie Donaldson, Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood.
• England’s Chris Wood is the highest ranked player from the Official World Ranking.
• France’s Alex Levy is the highest ranked player in the current Race to Dubai.
• There are five 2017 winners competing. They are: Sam Brazel (UBS Hong Kong Open), S.S.P. Chawrasia (Hero Indian Open), Darren Fichardt (Joburg Open), Alex Levy (Volvo China Open) and Brandon Stone (Alfred Dunhill Championship)
• Matteo Manassero (24) and Renato Paratore (20) have the distinction of being the youngest team, with a combined age of 44. The oldest team are Wales with a total age of 84, Bradley Dredge (43) and Jamie Donaldson (41). Paratore, 20 is the youngest player and Thongchai Jaidee, 47 the oldest.