A year after golf made its first foray into luring more viewers, it is time again for the Hero Challenge which sets the tone for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open this week. The unique electric paced one-hole knockout will attract a huge crowd, most of whom have downloaded free entry passes from the website for the event. Eight players, including India's Anirban Lahiri, all of whom are in the Top-70 of the World ranking, will clash in the the eight-man field. It is a great mix of European and PGA Tour players. Most of the guys straddle between the two Tours on either side of the Atlantic. Matt Kuchar (World No. 17), Patrick Reed (21), Tyrell Hatton (23), Bernd Wiesberger (28), Rafa Cabrera-Belllo (31), Russell Knox (48), Anirban Lahiri (68) and Alex Levy (80). Ironically, the defending champion, Levy is the lowest world ranked player among the eight. But then in a one-hole shoot-out anything can happen. Lahiri said, "Right now something Hero Challenge does not count towards. The past year has seen the sport of golf make a lot of changes to attract more people to the courses around the world. "While the European Tour brought in the 'Hero Challenge' a one-hole knock-out contested on Tuesday of the 2016 British Masters. So big a success was it with massive engagement on social media, the sponsors and the Tour decided to increase the number to Hero Challenges to three. "The other two will be held at British Masters in Newcastle and then at the DP World Championships in Dubai." In January, the European Tour broke new ground with the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth in Australia, where the event comprised 54 holes of stroke play followed by the top-24 playing a six-hole match play competition. That was followed by the GolfSixes event at the Centurion Club.
Both were full events on the Tour calendar. The innovative GolfSixes had 16 competing nations with two-member teams divided into four groups. The first day's group stage saw each two-man team complete three matches over the six-hole course. Then there was a knock-out to decide the winners. In the US, the PGA Tour used a similar two-man team format at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. There 80 two- player teams, with players choosing their teammates. The players on each team alternated shots in the first and third rounds. In the second and final rounds, each player hit his own balls and each team took the best score per hole. The playoff was held in the same format as the final round. With the Hero Challenge being live on television, we could soon see a spate of abbreviated and shortened versions of the game and that might just bring in new fans to the sport that is looking to expand all around.
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