Upsets Aplenty at Match Play But Is That Upsetting

By George WhiteFebruary 26, 2002, 5:00 pm
Congrats are in order to Kevin Sutherland. He was as shocked as we were that he defeated the greatest players in the world to win the Accenture Match Play title. He did it with a driver that wasnt working, but a short game that certainly was. He played six guys, one by one, that were ranked ahead of him, and one by one they all fell.
 
The point here isnt to make light of his victory. He might still have won if the conditions were different, such was the state of his game and his putter.
 
No siree! The point is, how do so many of the worlds best players fall to the lesser ones? You can understand two or three, but when 11 of the worlds top 13 go to the showers the first two rounds, some kind of negative mojo must be at work. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and David Duval ' the top three ' were only in town long enough for a quick cup of coffee and a Danish. They all lost in the first round.
 
Woods has been searching for something lost for quite awhile now. The worlds best player ' over-all, at least ' has been taken down a rung or two over the past eight months. Mickelson was more of a shock, but dont forget, he missed the cut at nearby Torrey Pines only two weeks before. Duval led, 2-up, with two holes remaining in the first round against eventual champion Sutherland, but managed to salvage a defeat from the jaws of victory.
 
Has this whole world gone topsy-turvey? Should we just throw out the world rankings and replace it with a simple worlds top 100, worlds second 100, worlds third 100, etc?
 
In a word ' no. And on the issue of why the carnage the last week, you need look no further than La Costa.
 
La Costa is a beautiful golf course in an area of stunning Pacific Ocean vistas, and the setting is perfect for a tournament of this size and magnitude. But, it is resort, with a resorts clientele and a resorts degree of difficulty.
 
That evens out the field considerably. And in a tournament where the 64th seed is still an awfully good player, that is all that needs to be done to have upsets all over the place. The course isnt difficult enough to sort out the exceptional from the very good. Everyone can find the fairway with a driver, and even if they cant, everyone can hit the green with their approach shot. The tournament then becomes a putting contest.

Of course, there are probably less than 10 courses in the U.S. capable of separating the great from the merely good. And none is in Southern California. None is in Florida, where the PGA Tour also is considering having the Match Play. In short, weather limits the geographical considerations ' the tournament must be played in February and there are only so many courses which can hold a tournament at that time.
 
So you can get some prodigious upsets ' No. 64 seed Peter OMalley, coming all the way from Australia a couple of nights before, beats Tiger Woods, who went home the week before to practice for this one. The No. 63 seed, John Cook, defeats No. 2 Mickelson rather easily, 3 and 2.
 
But why not just throw them all into the pot and see who comes out the victor? After all, they are the top 64 (minus an injured player or two) in the world out of 30 or 40 million golfers. The winner does deserve it ' he just played six different world-class players, and he beat them all in five days. The years to come will see many more upsets, but is that such a bad thing?
 
Jeff Maggert, the 24th seed, won the first one in 1999. Darren Clarke, the 19th seed, came from Northern Ireland to upset Tiger Woods in the second. The Match Play moved to Australia for the third one last year and more than 40 didnt attend. But the winner was Steve Stricker, ranked 91st in the world at the time. And this year it was Sutherland, ranked No. 65 in the world. The best in the world have taken a hammering at match play.
 
There were undoubtedly lots of folk who would rather have seen Woods vs. Mickelson in the championship match instead of Sutherland vs. No. 45 Scott McCarron. But Sutherland vs. McCarron was the offer, and it was a good storyline, not the least of which were two guys, both raised in the Sacramento area, both within one year of each other who were rivals in high school.
 
If you want Woods vs. Mickelson, better wait until July when they have a pick of ALL of the golf courses. Otherwise, better get ready for lots of upsets, because there is going to be no favorites when they all get together on a resort golf course. The top 64 are invited, and any of the 64 has a real chance of winning.
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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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.