Stat attack!: WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship review

By John AntoniniFebruary 24, 2014, 3:09 am

If Jason Day’s thrilling extra-hole victory in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship was indeed the tournament’s last appearance in the Tucson, Ariz., area, the Australian and runner-up Victor Dubuisson sure gave Dove Mountain a sendoff that will be remembered. In the first championship match to go to overtime since the inaugural Match Play event in 1999, Day outlasted Dubuission in 23 holes Sunday to become the winningest player – percentage-wise – in Match Play history and the fifth Aussie to win a World Golf Championship title. Dubuisson continued his remarkable climb on the world ranking, can take Special Temporary Membership on the PGA Tour for the rest of the year, and almost certainly took the lead in a statistic that the infinite ShotLink database does not calculate. You know the one, proximity to the hole on chip shots from cactus with rocks, sand, twigs, television cables and six-inch rough between the ball and the hole.

Day’s victory gives him a 14-3 record in four Match Play appearances. His .824 winning percentage allows him to overtake Matt Kuchar as the tournament’s winningest player with 15 or more matches.

Best winning percentage (15+ matches) in WGC-Match Play history

 Rank Player Record Percentage 2014 finish
 1 Jason Day 14-3 .824 Champion
 2  Matt Kuchar 17-4  .810  Third-round loser
 3  Geoff Ogilvy 20-5  .800  Did not play 
 4  Tiger Woods 33-10 .767  Did not play
 5 Hunter Mahan 17-6  .739  Third-round loser
 6  Nick O'Hern 11-5  .688  Did not play
 7  David Toms  24-11  .686  Did not play
 8  Davis Love IIi  19-10  .655  Did not play
 9  Luke Donald  17-9  .654  First-round loser
 10  Henrik Stenson  13-7  .650  First-round loser

Day built upon his success in the 2013 Match Play touranment. He finished third a year ago, losing to eventual champ Matt Kuchar in the semifinals before beating Ian Poulter in the consolation match. Day is the seventh player to play six matches in the tournament two years in a row and the first to go from consolation winner to tournament champion in back-to-back years.

Players who reached the final day of the WGC-Match Play two years in a row

 Player Year One Year two
 Jason Day 2013 Consolation winner 2014 Champion
 Hunter Mahan 2012 Champion 2013 Runner-up
 Paul Casey 2009 Runner-up 2010 Runner-up
 Stewart Cink 2008 Runner-up 2009 Consolation winner
 Henrik Stenson 2007 Champion 2008 Consolation winner
 Geoff Ogilvy 2006 Champion 2007 Runner-up
 Tiger Woods 2003 Champion 2004 Champion

Day is the first Australian to win a World Golf Championship event since Adam Scott won the 2011 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Australian World Golf Championships winners

 Player Tournament
 Jason Day 2014 Accenture Match Play
 Adam Scott 2011 Bridgestone Invitational
 Geoff Ogilvy 2008 Accenture Match Play
 Geoff Ogilvy 2006 Accenture Match Play
 Craig Parry 2002 NEC Invitational

Scott and Ogilvy have also won major championships, and although Day has an enviable major-championship record – three runner-up finishes in his last 11 major starts – a victory in a 2014 major is far from certain. In the last 10 years only two Match Play champions would go on to win a major in the same season.

Best finish in a major by the reigning Match Play champ (2004-2013)

 Year Match Play winner Best major result
 2013 Matt Kuchar T-8, Masters
 2012 Hunter Mahan T-12, Masters
 2011 Luke Donald T-4, Masters
 2010 Ian Poulter T-10, Masters
 2009  Geoff Ogilvy T-15, Masters
 2008 Tiger Woods Won, U.S. Open
 2007 Henrik Stenson T-1,7 Masters
 2006 Geoff Ogilvy Won, U.S. Open
 2005 David Toms T-10, PGA Championship
 2004 Tiger Woods T-9, British Open

Day’s victory Sunday also moved him to third on the final West Coast Swing money list for 2014, trailing Jimmy Walker and Bubba Watson. Day earned more than $1.5 million at Dove Mountain and supplemented that with a $366,000 check for his T-2 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Leading money winners on the West Coast Swing

 Rank Player Earnings Best finish
 1 Jimmy Walker $2,455,180 Won: Sony, Pebble
 2 Bubba Watson $1,953,890 Won: No. Trust
 3 Jason Day $1,909,200 Won: Match Play
 4 Zach Johnson $1,637,600 Won: Hyundai
 5 Dustin Johnson $1,551,150 2: Pebble, No. Trust
 6 Jordan Spieth $1,439,225 2: Hyundai
 7 Patrick Reed $1,405,152 Won: Humana
 8 Kevin Stadler $1,250,884 Won: Phoenix
 9 Scott Stallings $1,176,977 Won: Farmers
 10 Victor Dubuisson $1,061,906 2: Match Play

Dubuisson, with his more than $1 million on the PGA Tour in 2013-14, can accept Special Temporary Membership on the PGA Tour for the rest of the year. That means he can take unlimited sponsor exemptions. He is already exempt into the major championships and is now 23rd on the world ranking, a remarkable climb from 259th, his position on the ranking a little more than two years ago.

Victor Dubuisson’s climb on the world ranking

 Rank Time Period Note
 259 December 31, 2011  
 132 December 31, 2012  
 114 March 24, 2013 T-4 Malaysian Open
 100 October 13, 2013 First time in top 100
 39 October 27, 2013 Won Turkish Airlines Open
 32 December 31, 2013 Qualified for 2014 Masters
 23 February 23, 2014 Runner-up at WGC-Match Play

In additon to the majors, Dubuisson is exempt into the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral in two weeks, where he’ll get another chance at Jason Day and the rest of the world’s best players. The good thing is, last time we checked, Donald Trump hadn’t planted any cactus on the recently renovated Blue Monster course.

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."