Every Underdog Has His Day

By George WhiteFebruary 25, 2003, 5:00 pm
Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and maybe Mike Weir are clearly the class of the field this week. But the winner will be ' Niclas Fasth or Tim Clark or Anders Hanson. If the form chart of the WCG-Accenture Match Play is as wacky as it usually is, nothing will be as it should be. If its business as usual, this years results sheet will look like scrambled eggs when it should look like chateaubriand.
 
Last year, the top four seeds all went spiraling down to defeat in the first round. Tiger lost to Peter OMalley, Phil Mickelson lost to John Cook, David Duval lost to eventual winner Kevin Sutherland, and No. 4 seed Jesper Parnevik took it on the chin from Paul Azinger. Sutherland played well in the tournament at Riviera the week before, won the Accenture, and didnt do a whole lot else for the rest of the year.
 
Playing in an 18-hole match play tournament is a lot like playing black jack. The flip of the cards on the first hand can go 50-50, said Mickelson Tuesday. The flip for the first 18 can still go either way. But as the cards are progressively flipped and more hands are played, the more likely it is that the better player will prevail. The correct odds play out more and more as each successive hand is dealt.
 
And the more holes that one plays, the more likely it is that the better golfer will prevail.
 
I would equate it more to mathematical odds, said Mickelson. Eighteen holes of golf would be like sitting down and playing black jack for 20 minutes. Theres a good chance you could win.
 
You sit there and play for 20 hours, theres a better chance youll lose ... But over 18 holes, it seems to negate any advantage that one player might have over another.
 
Padraig Harrington believes there is more pressure on the top seeds than there is on the lower seeds.
 
Its a very short form, 18 holes, said Harrington. Everybody in the top 64 can play golf, or play to a high standard. When you go into an 18-hole match, especially if youre the lower seed, you feel you have nothing to lose. Youre going for your shots, youre not worried about the consequences, and thats why it turns up upsets.
 
So on one hand, the final four should be Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen ' the top four seeds. But because they play just 18 holes (max) and then make way for the match right behind them, it is entirely likely that No. 1 will lose to No. 64, or No. 2 to No. 63.
 
If they were 72-hole matches, the stronger player should prevail, said Harrington. But over an 18-hole match, the underdog just goes out and plays. And if anything, maybe the top seed is a little bit ' is probably playing a little more cautious than he should.
 
So it pays to watch the first round Wednesday as much as it does to watch the final match on Sunday. Carl Petterson might beat Tiger in the first round. Or Phil Tataurengi might get past Els.
 
Its a fun event, Mickelson said. I would enjoy viewing Wednesday or Thursday as much as Saturday or Sunday.
 
Look at it this way, he said. Look in the newspapers at the day-by-day totals of the winner of an event. Its exceptionally rare that he led wire to wire. It is rare that he played the best golf of anybody all four days.
 
Tiger has won 35 events, Mickelson said. Of those 35 events, I dont know if there was any tournament where he was the low round every single day. Im sure that there were some (tournaments where he led each day) because hes just that good. But if you look at that, that means somebody beat him that given day.
 
The reason? Is it because the higher seed goes in with a disadvantage?
 
The underdog just goes out and plays, Harrington said. And if anything, maybe the top seed is a little bit ' is probably playing more cautious than he would. And the underdog is playing a little more aggressive. So its classic match play. Thats always what happens.
 
So it is quite unlikely, for example, that Woods will make it past five opponents ' the number of matches he must win if hes the champion. He has a better chance than anyone, but still it isnt the best of odds. He will be the favorite to beat his opponent in each match, but how likely is it to play out by the form chart?
 
Peter OMalley knows. Last year he pulled the big upset. Tiger knows, too. Thats the fun thing about match play. David can rise up and slay Goliath sometimes. Its why there is just as much reason to watch on Wednesday as there is on Sunday.
 
Full Coverage of the WGC - Accenture Match Play

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: