A Different Kind of Game

By George WhiteMarch 1, 2003, 5:00 pm
Match play is as much like 72-hole stroke play as a sleek little sports car is to an F-18 fighter jet. Both are means of conveyance and both are forms of golf, but thats where the similarities end.
 
In match play, each hole played is a mini-tournament. A player wins, loses or ties each hole played until he is ahead ' or behind ' by a bigger margin than there are holes remaining.
 
A stroke-play tournament is the total score over 72 holes. At the end of 72 holes, the score is totaled and a winner named.
 
Everything changes, Tiger Woods was saying. Everything is on the moment.
 
You dont get into the situation generally until maybe Sunday afternoon on the back nine where you might be playing your opponent a little bit. Here, its right from the first hole . Here, if you dont go out there and play right away, youll be going home. I know that, and everyone else knows that, and youve got to get up for it.
 
Case in point: the WCG-Accenture Match Play Championship. Players won or lost their matches and went home, or lived to play another day. It mattered none at all if you scored well or didnt score so well ' only that you won one more hole than your opponent.
 
Figuring out a score in match play is difficult because so many holes are conceded. But several players were under par for the day ' and lost. Others were over par and won.
 
Ernie Els, Fred Funk, Loren Roberts and Carl Pettersson all shot 1-under scores in the first round and got beat. Scott Hoch shot 3-under in the fourth round and lost to a red-hot Woods, who was busy shooting 7-under at the same time in just 14 holes.
 
On the other hand, Jim Furyk shot 5-over and won when his opponent, Len Mattiace, shot 6-over. Darren Clarke shot 3-over and won when Tim Clark shot 5-over. Peter Lonard shot 3-over and won when Phil Tataurangi shot 5-over. These guys might have scored better if they had been pressed by their opponents, but you only have to win one more hole than your opponent does ' hence some over-par winners.
 
Yesterday I played really well and shot 68 and would have beaten maybe 59 guys out of the field, said Nick Price after he had stopped Paul Lawrie in the first round. But if you come up against one of the other five (in the Accenture field) and play like that and get beaten, then it is goodnight, and that is hard.
 
It all depends on the matches you get obviously there are times when you have to play great golf, but if you just plod along and make good pars ' its hard to beat someone who is making pars all the time.
 
So much of match play is mental, and that doesnt necessarily mean gamesmanship. But it means that there is an advantage to driving first and getting your ball into the fairway, or getting onto the green before your opponent hits, or making the putt first. It adds pressure on your opponent each time to top you, and eventually it can wear a man down.
 
If you happen to not be hitting the ball very well and are just able to stay in the match, said Kevin Sutherland, you can gain a lot of momentum from that. And for a sport that seems to move very slowly, momentum in match play is huge.
 
And you can really ride that momentum, if you get it on your side ' especially if you can get it in the middle of the backside or maybe early in the backside.
 
Sutherland has been a match-play wizard the last couple of years. He was the Accenture champ last year when he won six straight matches, then won two more against higher seeds this year to set a match-play record. His eight straight wins is a standard that no one else has surpassed.
 
Pared down to simple terms, in match play you have to play the man, but in stroke play you must play the course.
 
Youre not worried about what the other guys (on the course) are doing, Scott Hoch said. Youre not worried theyre playing different conditions. They play early in the morning and we play in the afternoon. You feed off the other guy. You play according to what he does.
 
Depending on what the other guy does will determine how you hit some of the shots, whether you can go for it, whether you lay up, whether you take a chance and go for the pin or go for the middle of the green. Thats what is totally different.
 
Sometimes you dont even watch what your opponent is doing, Woods said. There are times you totally block him out of your mind. Other times, he is at the forefront of what you are doing.
 
Its hard to say, Tiger said, because its the moment, and how it flows from hole to hole and from shot to shot, what you can do. A lot of times you can force your opponent to make a mistake, and other times you may play conservative and go ahead and let him take the chance. But a lot of it, its just a feel, from experience, and playing a lot of matches.
 
Someone told Hoch that the old quote that match play is a better test of character, stroke play is a better test of golf. Is that a fair assessment, he was asked?
 
Hoch laughed heartily. Thats the loser that says that, he said.
 
Full Coverage of the WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship
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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.