Notes Marquee match up Celebrity sighting

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. ' It might not look like much on paper, much less television, but one of the most interesting matches in the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship is Kevin Sutherland against Geoff Ogilvy.
 
Those are two of only four players in the 64-man field that have won at least 80 percent of their matches.
 
Ogilvy is No. 8 in the world, a former U.S. Open champion. Sutherland is No. 56 in the world and has only one PGA Tour victory. Sutherland, however, finds himself in elite company at Dove Mountain. The only other two players with an 80 percent rate of winning are Henrik Stenson and Tiger Woods.
 
Sutherland is playing at Match Play for the first time since 2003, when he lost in the third round. He won the Match Play in 2002, and lost in the first round in 2001 in Australia, giving him an 8-2 record.
 
No wonder he remembers the last match he played ' a loss to Adam Scott.
 
I remember all my matches, he said. Ive only played 10 of them.
 
But he has rarely played any lightweights. His previous opening matches have come against the current Masters champion (Vijay Singh), the current British Open champion (David Duval) and Sergio Garcia. When he won in 2002, Sutherland beat five former Ryder Cup players until meeting Scott McCarron in the final.
 
Why such an affinity with match play?
 
I guess its the finality of it. Thats what makes it a lot of fun, Sutherland said. Its one of the few tournaments I watch on TV, besides the majors. Youve got to play good no matter who youre playing.
 

 
ROSE PEDALS: Justin Rose became a father on Saturday night when his wife, Kate, delivered a boy they named Leo Kenny.
 
That allowed Rose to fly to Arizona for the Match Play Championship, and that added one noteworthy development. This will be the first time since the tournament began in 1999 that all 64 players who were eligible showed up.
 
Jumbo Ozaki of Japan ' remember him? ' skipped the first two years. Hardly anyone went to Australia in 2001. Jose Coceres broke his arm in 2002, Vijay Singh hurt his ribs in 2003, and the list goes on.
 

 
CELEBRITY SIGHTING: Padraig Harrington might be the most accomplished athlete in Ireland, having won the British Open and PGA Championship to become the first European to win consecutive majors in the same year.
 
But he learned early not to get a big head.
 
After winning his first British Open in 2007, he pulled up at a local hotel around Christmas only to learn the parking lot was full, and the attendant was waving him away. But when the driver rolled down the window, the attendant looked at Harrington and made room.
 
He brought me in and parked me over in a nice spot, and it was great, Harrington said. He came on over to say hello and have a chat, and Im feeling quite up there ' chest out, Oh, this is great ' and after a couple of seconds of conversation, I realize he thinks Im off the X-Factor.
 
That would be the Irish version of American Idol.
 
I still got the car park space, though, Harrington said. You can always be brought down to earth.
 

 
PERSPECTIVE IN ORDER: U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee became the youngest winner of a European Tour event last week when he captured the Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia against a field that included Anthony Kim and Lee Westwood.
 
Players gush over his ability, but this isnt the first time a teenager has won a big event.
 
Ten years ago, Aaron Baddeley was an 18-year-old amateur when he won the Australian Open. He was paired in the final round with Colin Montgomerie, who had just won his seventh Order of Merit in Europe. In the group ahead was Greg Norman, the year before the Shark nearly won the Masters.
 
Ten years later, Baddeley has two PGA Tour victories and has never been ranked higher than No. 16 in the world.
 
Lee may turn out to be among the best in the world, but it takes time to reach those conclusions.
 

 
DIVOTS: While the top 64 in the world ranking are in Arizona, the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico managed to pick off 16 of the next 125 for the opposite-field event. The USGA has selected Tom Morris of St. Andrews: The Colossus of Golf, 1821-1908 as the recipient of the Herbert Warren Book Award for 2008. Written by David Malcolm and Peter E. Crabtree, it studies the life of Old Tom Morris and his influence on St. Andrews. Tiger Woods is 6-3 against Australians in match play as a pro.
 

 
STAT OF THE WEEK: Stuart Appleby is the only player to have competed in every World Golf Championship.
 

 
FINAL WORD: This Wednesday is different. We only have one partner, not four. ' Stephen Ames at the Accenture Match Play Championship, which begins on the day usually set aside for pro-ams.
 

Note: Tiger Woods' return can be seen live on Golf Channel Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' Tiger's Return
  • Match Play Bracket
  • Match Play Bracket Challenge
  • Full Coverage ' WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Woods' wife gives birth to son Charlie Axel
  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    FALLING

    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    EUROPE'S BIG 5

    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.