Day 1 WGC-Accenture Match Play predictions

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2011, 9:55 pm
MARANA, Ariz. – Once the action starts at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship things move fast, so your on-site scribes Randall Mell and Rex Hoggard offer a quick glance of what to expect on Day 1 at Dove Mountain (click here for the full bracket):

(1) Lee Westwood vs. (16) Henrik Stenson

Randall: Former champ Henrik “Boxer Briefs” Stenson gets boxed out in a brief appearance this year by a highly motivated world No. 1.
(1) Martin Kaymer vs. (16) Seung-yul Noh

Rex: The world-No. 1-in-waiting has little trouble with the Korean, who has a grand total of five lifetime starts on the PGA Tour.
(1) Tiger Woods vs. (16) Thomas Bjorn

Randall: Expectorations, uh, sorry, expectations have changed for Tiger, but he spits out another Match Play opponent anyway.
(1) Phil Mickelson vs. (16) Brendan Jones

Rex: Jones has been here before, going down to Tiger Woods two years ago in Round 1, and this season’s stay in the Arizona desert will be just as brief.
(2) Graeme McDowell vs. (15) Heath Slocum

Randall: I’m betting Heath Slocum’s caddie won’t be ripping off his bib before this one’s over. McDowell wins.
(2) Paul Casey vs. (15) Richard Green

Rex: A bracket bridesmaid the last two years at Dove Mountain, Casey cruises past Green on his way to another finals runs.
(2) Rory McIlroy vs. (15) Jonathan Byrd

Randall: Byrd has reveled playing with his back to the wall, and that’s what it will feel like against the talented young Irishman, whom Byrd sends home early in this upset.
(2) Steve Stricker vs. (15) Matteo Manassero

Rex: This is going to send my Cheese-headed cubicle-mate into a tizzy, but the young Italian stuns Stricker whose Match Play record is pedestrian at best since his 2001 victory.
(3) Luke Donald vs. (14) Charley Hoffman

Randall: The talented artist from England paints a pretty picture in the desert, one Hoffman won’t stop to admire on his way out of town.
(3) Jim Furyk vs. (14) Ryan Palmer

Rex: Close match but Match Play rookie Palmer edges Furyk, who has started his season slowly.
(3) Ernie Els vs. (14) Jeff Overton

Randall: The Hoosier does a little Hickory High weave around the Big Easy in a first-round upset.
(3) Ian Poulter vs. (14) Stewart Cink

Rex: A Ryder Cup redo of sorts, but the colorful defending champion clips Cink.
(4) Matt Kuchar vs. (13) Anders Hansen

Randall: Try as he might, Mr. Hansen can’t wipe that smile off Kuchar’s face with Kuchar continuing to take his game to another level.
(4) Dustin Johnson vs. (13) Mark Wilson

Rex: In a classic clash of divergent styles Wilson, the PGA Tour’s only two-time winner in 2011, wears out Johnson with his fairways-and-greens schtick.
(4) Robert Karlsson vs. (13) Hiroyuki Fujita

Randall: Highest ranked player nobody’s paying attention to (Karlsson) wins another in the shadows.
(4) Retief Goosen vs. (13) K.J. Choi

Rex: Although solid last week at Riviera, Choi’s had little luck at the Match Play and Goosen is trending in the right direction.
(5) Francesco Molinari vs. (12) Ryan Moore

Randall: The Italian teaches Moore the meaning of the word “arividerchi” in dispatching the American in the first round.
(5) Hunter Mahan vs. (12) Sean O’Hair

Rex: The showdown of Sean Foley disciples goes to Mahan, whose superior ballstriking makes him a favorite this week.
(5) Bubba Watson vs. (12) Bill Haas

Randall: Bubba’s strained oblique won’t feel any better after Haas sticks a loss in his ribs.
(5) Louis Oosthuizen vs. (12) Bo Van Pelt

Rex: As long as Van Pelt isn’t asked to spell Oosthuizen he’ll roll to victory over the Match Play rookie.
(6) Alvaro Quiros vs. (11) Y.E. Yang

Randall: Spanish missiles light up the desert sky with Quiros riding a hot streak to another win.
(6) J.B. Holmes vs. (11) Camilo Villegas

Rex: No need for a called-in ruling, Villegas’ week will be short without an unpopular disqualification.
(6) Miguel Jimenez vs. (11) Yuta Ikeda

Randall: Even bulls refuse to fight “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” how’s Ikeda supposed to beat him?
(6) Edoardo Molinari vs. (11) Martin Laird

Rex: Remember that halved Monday singles match with Rickie Fowler at the Ryder Cup? This half of the flying Molinari brothers sails to a Round 1 victory.
(7) Charl Schwartzel vs. (10) Ryo Ishikawa

Randall: The Bashful Prince will know another level of shyness when Schwartzel’s done with him.
(7) Adam Scott vs. (10) Ben Crane

Rex: They say the race goes to the slow and steady, but this bout goes to the relative sprinter Scott.
(7) Kyung-Tae Kim vs. (10) Jason Day

Randall: “No worries, Mr. Kim, that bloke that just beat you is Tall Poppies.” Translation of Aussie slang: Day’s really good.
(7) Robert Allenby vs. (10) Ross Fisher

Rex: Allenby is playing well, but Fisher is a match play assassin and will bury the Aussie with birdies.
(8) Rickie Fowler vs. (9) Peter Hanson

Randall: Bad news for Mr. Hanson, Fowler seemed to really like match-play pressure in his Ryder Cup debut.
(8) Geoff Ogilvy vs. (9) Padraig Harrington

Rex: Ogilvy, Ogilvy, Ogilvy . . . oi, oi, oi. Translation: the former two-time Match Play champion wins in a walk-over.
(8) Zach Johnson vs. (9) Justin Rose

Randall: Sound the bugle, the Zach Attack moves through the desert.
(8) Nick Watney vs. (9) Anthony Kim

Rex: Swing coach says Kim is “fine” after L.A. withdrawal, but Watney will give him some extra time to recover with an early exit.
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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."