Thirty-One Other Flavors

By Brian HewittFebruary 25, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureYes, Eldrick, there were 31 'other' matches scheduled Wednesday in the opening round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona. And while the entire sports world focused ' understandably so ' on the clash between top seed Tiger Woods and down-underdog Brendan Jones of Australia, 62 other players competed for the right to advance.
 
The following is a special edition of the Wednesday notes column and contains a brief capsule from each of those 31 other matches, just in case you were wondering what happened on the rest of the golf course:
 

Sergio Garcia vs. Charl Schwartzel (Schwartzel wins 1-up) World No. 2 Sergio Garcia lost the first three holes and the last three holes to young South African Charl Schwartzel. It made him the second No. 1 seed in a bracket to go down (Pat Perez upset Padraig Harrington) and it made Schwartzel one of the happiest men in Arizona. Sloppy iron play late was Sergio's undoing.
 
Ian Poulter vs. Jeev Milkha Singh (Poulter wins 4 & 3) Ian Poulter got Milkha. Big time. Poulter in plaid, seeing well after a recent eye procedure, routed the Indian. Now Poulter gets a shot at his European Ryder Cup teammate, World No. 2 Sergio Garcia in Round 2 Thursday. Oops, not so fast, bloke. Sergio lost the last three holes and the match to Charl Schwartzel. Adios, Sergio.
 
Robert Allenby vs. Ross Fisher (Fisher wins 1-up) Ross Fisher, an Englishman, is easily one of the most underrated players in the world. He was also almost one of the most defeated players in the world Wednesday when he missed a 5-footer on the 17th green that would have put away Robert Allenby. Next up for Fisher is Pat Perez.
 
Luke Donald vs. Ben Curtis (Donald wins 19 holes) It tore up England's Luke Donald to miss last fall's Ryder Cup because of a bad wrist. But he's back at match play and he withstood a furious Ben Curtis rally. Curtis birdied four of his last six holes but pulled his second shot into the desert on the 19th and couldn't save par. Next for Donald: Vijay Singh.
 
Padraig Harrington vs. Pat Perez (Perez wins 1-up) Upset alert. Upset alert. Princeton beats Georgetown! Pat Perez, a No. 16 seed in the Snead bracket, held off No. 1 seed Padraig Harrington. Harrington had a 12-footer on 18 to send it to extra holes but missed on the left side.
 
Retief Goosen vs. Tim Clark (Clark wins 4 & 2) In a battle between the 33rd-seeded player in the field, Retief Goosen, and the 32nd-seeded player in the field, Tim Clark, it was Clark who emerged the triumphant South African. Clark now is next in line for Tiger Woods who, by the way, beat Brendan Jones 3 and 2.
 
Adam Scott vs. Sean O'Hair (O'Hair wins 1-up) Sean O'Hair birdied the drivable par 15th to take a 1-up lead over Adam Scott that held up when both players parred each of the last three holes. O'Hair moves along to a second round matchup against Boo Weekley.
 
Vijay Singh vs. Soren Kjeldsen (Singh wins 2 & 1) In yet another match that ended in a 2 and 1 decision, Vijay Singh, still recuperating from knee surgery (less serious than Tiger's) dusted the other 'Soren,' Soren Kjeldsen. Vijay was 2-down early. He is the first seed in the Hogan bracket. Who worked harder on his game ' Vijay or Hogan?
 
Boo Weekley vs. Justin Rose (Weekley wins 1-up) Roller coaster Boo Weekley, 3-up after six holes and 2-down after 14, rallied to can a 22-footer on the 18th hole to 'upset' Justin Rose. Rose, whose wife recently gave birth to the couple's first child, was the fourth seed in the Jones bracket. But he shoved his approach right on the final hole.
 
Mike Weir vs. Hunter Mahan (Mahan wins 1-up) Hunter Mahan is rapidly developing into one of the most confident and dangerous match play players in the world. His tight win over Mike Weir (nobody was more than 2-up at any point in the match) is just the kind of confidence builder Mahan would want to have going into his second round appointment with Rory McIlroy. The winner will get Woods if Tiger advances one more.
 
Stuart Appleby vs. Martin Kaymer (Kaymer wins 1-up) Only a cruel 'power' lip-out from 15 feet on the last hole kept Stuart Appleby from extending this match against rising German star Martin Kaymer. Australia's Appleby is the only man to have played in all 11 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championships.
 
Rory McIlroy vs. Louis Oosthuizen (McIlroy wins 2 & 1) The precocious McIlroy, just 19 years old and already No. 17 in the world, ho-hums his way past Louis Oosthuizen, who will have to wait a long time before he wrests the nickname 'Oosty' away from Peter Oosterhuis. McIlroy is one win away from a potential date with Tiger Woods in the round of 16.
 
Jim Furyk vs. Anders Hansen (Furyk wins 2 & 1) Anders Hansen has played in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship three times and has yet to win a match. This time it was steady Jim Furyk who beat him. Furyk, the fourth seed in the Snead bracket, played his college golf at nearby University of Arizona and looked comfortable all day long.
 
Steve Stricker vs. Dustin Johnson (Stricker wins 2 & 1) Two of the hottest players on the PGA Tour, Dustin Johnson and Steve Stricker, needed 17 holes before Stricker, second last Sunday to Phil Mickelson at Riviera, prevailed. Stricker won this event in 2001 and gets Ernie Els next in what might be the premier second round match-up.
 
Stephen Ames vs. Alvaro Quiros (Ames wins 1-up) Stephen Ames is most famous for being on the business end of a 9 and 8 drubbing at the hands of Tiger Woods several years ago when Woods perceived that Ames had publicly slighted Tiger's driving ability. This time Ames got the best of Spain's Alvaro Quiros in a tight match. Next for him is Peter Hanson.
 
Henrik Stenson vs. Davis Love III (Love wins 21 holes) Davis Love III, who lost in the finals of this event to Tiger Woods in 2004 and then again to Geoff Ogilvy in the 2006 final, made a par on the 21st hole to hold off another former champion, Henrik Stenson. Stenson kept the match going with 14-footer on the 20th hole. Love now faces close friend Justin Leonard.
 
Ernie Els vs. Soren Hansen (Els wins 4 & 2) Ernie Els, who made no secret of the fact that he wasn't a big fan of The Gallery at Dove Mountain (where they played this event the last two years before moving to nearby Ritz-Carlton Golf Club) advances to the second round in this event for the first time since 2002.
 
Geoff Ogilvy vs. Kevin Sutherland (Ogilvy wins 19 holes) The 2006 winner of this event needed a testy up and down from a greenside bunker on the first extra hole to hold off a late charge by Kevin Sutherland who won this thing in 2002. Sutherland had bravely extended the match with a 12-footer on the 18th.
 
Robert Karlsson vs. Peter Hanson (Hanson wins 3 & 2) The only Hanson (there are two Hansens) in the field (there are also two Sorens), Peter Hanson pulled off the big upset against Robert Karlsson who was out of sorts from the outset. Karlsson conceded putts for losses on the second and third holes and never led. Karlsson, No. 7 in the world was No. 2 seed in the Gary Player bracket.
 
Trevor Immelman vs. Shingo Katayama (Katayama wins 3 & 2) Trevor Immelman, the reigning Masters champion and one of eight South Africans in the field, had a 6-footer on the 16th green that would have drawn him to within one hole of Shingo Katayama. Immelman proceeded to three-putt and lose the match to the 'Kat in the Hat' from Japan.
 
Justin Leonard vs. Andres Romero (Leonard wins 2 & 1) Justin Leonard, captured three straight holes beginning at the 10th, and then hung on tenaciously to outlast Andres Romero. Romero almost shocked the golf world at Carnoustie in the British Open two years ago, just missing the Harrington- Garcia playoff. Leonard was too steady on this sunny day north of Tucson.
 
Phil Mickelson vs. Angel Cabrera (Mickelson wins 19 holes) Phil Mickelson, the No. 2 seed in the Hogan bracket, was 4-up with five to play against Angel Cabrera and lost four straight holes starting at 14. Lefty, who won at Riviera last week, collected himself on the first extra hole and buried a 5-footer for the winning birdie that advanced him to the second round against Zach Johnson.
 
Zach Johnson vs. Graeme McDowell (Johnson wins 3 & 1) With a trip back to Augusta little more than a month away, former Masters champion Zach Johnson stuck an iron to 3 feet on 17 for the birdie that eliminated Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell. Johnson, the 28th seed over-all, is the seventh seed in the Hogan bracket.
 
Paul Casey vs. Aaron Baddeley (Casey wins 1-up) Aaron Baddeley, one of the best putters in the game normally, missed a 4-footer on the last that would have extended the match against Paul Casey. Casey won the HSBC Match Play in 2006 and is always a threat in this format. Next up for him is Matthew Goggin.
 
Kenny Perry vs. Matthew Goggin (Goggin wins 2 & 1) Veteran Kenny Perry, the No. 3 seed in the Player bracket, managed just two birdies all day against the voluble Goggin, one of eight Aussies in the field. Goggin won when Perry made bogey on the 17th hole.
 
Miguel Angel Jimenez vs. Rory Sabbatini (Jimenez wins 2 & 1) The 45-year-old mechanic from Spain poured sand into Rory's gas tank and earned a second round shot at the red-hot Villegas. Sabbatini was 4-down at the turn despite being near the University of Arizona where he played his college golf. Sabbatini made a mess of the back nine last Sunday at Riviera and it carried over.
 
Stewart Cink vs. Richard Sterne (Cink wins 19 holes) Cink, last year's runner-up to Woods, made a 47-foot bomb for birdie on the first extra hole after South Africa's Sterne had won the 15th and 16th holes to force the issue. Woods' group had to wait on first tee as this match played through on its extra hole. Westwood next for Cink.
 
Oliver Wilson vs. K. J. Choi (Wilson wins 3 & 1) First upset of day, if the seedings mean anything to you. No. 43 in world Oliver Wilson made par on 17 and K. J. Choi bogeyed the same hole. Wilson was a Ryder Cup surprise in the Saturday morning foursomes last fall when he and Henrik Stenson took down the Mickelson and Kim powerhouse 2 and 1.
 
Camilo Villegas vs. Rod Pampling (Villegas wins 7 & 6) Early audition for this year's Presidents Cup for Spiderman. Camilo raced to 4 up lead after eight holes and the rest was just too tough an ask for the flinty Pampling. Villegas won five straight holes at one point.
 
Lee Westwood vs. P. Marksaeng (Westwood wins 2 & 1) Euro Ryder Cup veteran got up early (3 up after 7) and never let up on Thailand's Marksaeng. Westwood hoping to make amends for not winning a full point in any one match at Valhalla last fall.
 
Anthony Kim vs. Wen-Tang Lin (Kim wins 7 & 5) Picking up where he left off in Ryder Cup, AK didn'tt lose a hole as he breezed past the little-known Tawainese, Lin. This is Kim's first appearance in this event.
 

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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    Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – 

    Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

    Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

    ''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

    Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

    ''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

    Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

    ''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

    Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

    ''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

    The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

    ''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

    Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

    ''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

    The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

    ''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

    He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

    Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

    ''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

    Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

    ''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.