'Girl PowerPlay' wins day in golf's Twenty20

Poulter and McDowell help launch made-for-TV event but the women prevail in sport's new showcase
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The Independent Online

The rain might have made it all too familiar a scene when the pros arrived here at Celtic Manor yesterday morning, but then the sun came out to illuminate two flags on the greens which would have instantly confirmed this was something radically different. The Welsh course, which hosted last year's Ryder Cup, played host last night to the inaugural staging of PowerPlay Ignition, a three-hour made-for-TV event which the organisers hope will be golf's answer to Twenty20 cricket.

the sun might have made it a scene unfamiliar to the pros when they teed it up at Celtic Manor yesterday evening, but the two flags on each green confirmed this was something radically different. As did the sight of the best of the European Tour being beaten by the best of the Ladies' European Tour.

The Welsh course, which hosted last year's decidedly soggy Ryder Cup, played host to the inaugural staging of PowerPlay Ignition, a three-hour, made-for-TV event which the organisers hope will be golf's answer to Twenty20.

The cast list provided evidence that this is a serious project, as it tries "to create a high-excitement version of golf in a short-time frame". Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey were playing, as were John Daly, Gary Player, Ian Woosnam. Yet it was the women who prevailed. Indeed, they completely dominated, taking a 1-2-3 in the event which is sure to inspire their male counterparts to enact some revenge as the format takes root on the golfing calendar. Perhaps they should call it "Girl PowerPlay".

Playing from the forward tees, Sweden's Caroline Hedwall collected the £100,000 first prize, to go with the £45,000 she won in Slovakia, with her countrywoman, Helen Alfredsson, in second. The American Paula Creamer was tied in third with Poulter. The prize-money and appearance fees helps bring the total cost of staging PowerPlay to £1.25m.

The field's task was simple enough – if one understands golf and its Stableford scoring system. Played over nine holes, each green had two flags – an " easy " white flag and a " hard " black flag. The competitors had a limited number of Power Plays (three in the first eight holes) to go for the black flag. On the tee they were obliged to state which they would be going for and if they then scored birdie or better they were rewarded with double points.

On the last hole their dilemma became more pronounced. Again they had the choice of going for the black flag, with extra points on offer. But if they shot a bogey or worse they would lose three points. For the hackers among us, this might not be so much "risk and reward" as "risk and be punished".

But the pros seemed content to be taken out of their comfort zone, if only for a day. Poulter appeared especially keen. "We are all in the entertainment business and this could be a big step forward in that regard," he said. "Just look what Twenty20 did for cricket."

Is there any prospect of PowerPlay doing the same? Well, the crowds were healthy and it was broadcast live on Sky Sports and in 30 other countries. Two more events will be staged this year – in the US and Asia – with seven inked in for 2012, leading to more thereafter.

* Colin Montgomerie failed to qualify for the US Open yesterday. The Scot could only shoot a one over par total of 145 at Walton Heath.

Powerplay rules

* The game is played over nine holes

* At the start of each hole, the player must decide whether to go for the harder 'Power Play' black flag, to score double points, or the normal white flag. Each player has to use three Power Plays in the first eight holes.

* Holes are scored 1 point for a bogey, 2 for a par, 3 for a birdie, 4 for an eagle and 5 for an albatross. All doubled if using the Power Plays.

* On the ninth, players can use a bonus Power Play – but if they score a bogey or worse they lose 3 points. It is the only time players can lose points.