Match Play Strategy Euros v Yanks

By Brian HewittFebruary 21, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. -- Trevor Immelmans game plan is a clear one. Which is rarely the case in match play at the games highest level, mainly because the top names rarely play this format.
 
More often than not, players waffle between saying theyre playing the course or their opponent. Not Immelman.
 
Im definitely playing the guy, Immelman said Wednesday at the WGC-Accenture Match play where his 6-and-5 victory over Thomas Bjorn was the earliest first-round match to end.
 
I knew Thomas was not on his game, Immelman said. I was just trying to not do something stupid. One down after two holes, Immelman won seven of the next nine.
 
Immelman remains the last player to have beaten Tiger Woods in a PGA TOUR event. It came last July at the Cialis Western Open. It was so long ago, Immelman said. It has all worn off.
 
Woods defeated J.J. Henry in his opener, 3 and 2.
 
Immelmans next opponent is Chris DiMarco who dusted Brett Wetterich, 4 and 3.
 
DiMarcos strategy against Wetterich: Having him looking at my ball on the green on every hole, DiMarco said. Thats the advantage sometimes of being the shorter hitter.
 
COACH VS. COACH:
The significance of Michael Campbell vs. Justin Rose Wednesday was much deeper than it looked on paper.
 
It happens that Campbells coach, Jonathan Yarwood, and Roses coach, Nick Bradley, are best friends. Their families vacation together.
 
Unfortunately, Ive known Nick for more than 10 years, Yarwood needled before the match.
 
Its going to be a strange day, Bradley said. But actually we get along great. It can be a little bit nasty and whisper-whisper in this business from one coach to another. But not us.
 
As for the match: It was never close. Campbell, who injured his neck earlier this month in Malaysia, bogeyed three of the first four holes and never recovered. Rose prevailed, 6 and 5.
 
It was a little awkward, Rose said after the match. The banter actually started yesterday (Tuesday).
 
TEAMMATE VS. TEAMMATE:
Playing against a Ryder Cup teammate, Padraig Harrington said, can be distracting. You have expectations for your opponent because you know his game, Harrington said after draining a 40-footer on the 19th hole to defeat Lee Westwood. Its a bit awkward.
 
There was very little awkward about the winning eagle putt that came after a 257-yard hybrid that finished in the middle of the green.
 
Next up for Harrington is Stewart Cink who handled Jeev Milkha-Singh, 3 and 2. This is the same Stewart Cink who dusted a red-hot Sergio Garcia, 4 and 3, in the Sunday singles at last years Ryder Cup matches in Ireland.
 
READING COMPREHENSION:
It is a theme you will hear all week long here at the WGC-Accenture Match Play: Virtually all the players in the field hadnt seen the greens at the South Course of The Gallery at Dove Mountain until this week. Add on the fact that the greens dont always break the way they look, and you have a recipe for confusion.
 
There are guys out here who read greens well and guys out here who think they read greens well but just remember greens well, Hank Haney told me.
 
Haney is Tiger Woods instructor. And, he pointed out, there is no memory bank this week on these John Fought-designed surfaces modeled after Pinehurst No. 2. This week you will have to read greens well, Haney said.
 
And, yes, Haney added, Tiger reads greens pretty well.
 
World No. 2 Jim Furyk expressed less concern. Coming here for the first time, we should be able to learn the golf course in a couple of days and should have a pretty good knowledge of whats going on, Furyk said.
 
L.A. GOODBYE:
Charles Howell III, when asked if he slept well Sunday night after defeating Phil Mickelson in a sudden death playoff to win the Nissan Open earlier in the day:
 
Oh, yeah. A lot better. A lot calmer.
 
In his first round match Howell cruised past Stuart Appleby, 4 and 3. Next up for Chuckie 3-sticks: Sergio Garcia.
 
THE OTHER HOWELL:
David Howell, ranked No. 17 in the world had this to say about the prospect of playing Charles Howell III, ranked No. 16 in the world, in the finals to determine the best Howell in the world:
 
I think right now, both of us would take that prospect.
 
Those words were uttered Tuesday. Wednesday, David Howell squandered a 3-up lead after eight holes and fell to Rory Sabbatini, 2-up.
 
TRULY NOLEN:
Paul Nolen is the head professional at The Gallery and thinks the Europeans may have an advantage on his golf course.
 
The run-off areas are shaved down and you need more imagination around the greens, he said. I think the Europeans might be more used to these kinds of conditions.
 
There were just four matches Wednesday that pitted Europeans against Americans. The Euros won all four.
 
Related Links
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Match Play Brackets
  • Full Coverage - WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.