Running blog: WGC-Accenture Match Play Day 3

By Rex HoggardFebruary 24, 2012, 10:46 pm

MARANA, Ariz. – Day 3 of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is under way at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain. GolfChannel.com senior writer Rex Hoggard is on site with a running blog of the third-round action. (Click for Scoring)

All times ET

6:30 p.m.: Like most players, Rory McIlroy is a fan of the occasional match play event, but a steady diet would not be something he is interested in.

“It’s good that we don’t play match play every week,” he said following his 3-and-1 Round 3 victory. “I’d only get in 10 events a year.”

As for his Elite Eight opponent – Sang-Moon Bae who held off John Senden with a 5 ½ foot par putt at the 18th hole in the day’s longest match – this will not be the Ulsterman’s first encounter with the Korean.

The two began the final round of the 2009 Korean Open tied for the lead. Bae shot 67 to win and McIlroy slumped to 72 to finish tied for third place.


6:14 p.m.: For the second consecutive day Rory McIlroy didn’t see Dove Mountain’s 18th hole, although his match against Miguel Angel Jimenez seemed much closer than the final 3-and-1 margin of victory would suggest.

For the day McIlroy was 1 under par, and that included a conceded 3 ½-footer for birdie at the 17th hole, and he struggled on Dove Mountain’s greens. The Ulsterman has not trailed in a match since the 11th hole on Friday.


5:46 p.m.:  Much was made of the distance advantage Dustin Johnson had over Mark Wilson in the duo’s Round 3 match at Dove Mountain, and Wilson spent most of the day hitting first but he said that doesn’t mean he’s a short hitter.

“To the media there are two categories: bombers and short hitters,” said Wilson following his 4-and-3 victory over Johnson. “I don’t think of myself as a short hitter.”

Fair enough, but for the record Wilson ranks 159th on Tour in driving distance with a 280-yard average.


5:33 p.m.:  Lee Westwood dismissed the thought that he could be looking ahead to a potential semifinal showdown with Rory McIlroy.

“It’s a danger for you to look too far ahead,” Westwood smiled when asked about the marquee matchup. “I’m looking forward to finding a new restaurant for Friday night.”

Westwood had never advanced past Round  2 at the  WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in his previous 11 starts, pointing out how incorrect many of the Golf Channel prediction brackets turned out to be.

When asked where Golf Channel predicted he would finish Westwood smiled, “On the BA (British Airways flight) 289 on Wednesday night.”


5:12 p.m.: After losing to Nick Watney in the second round at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship the last two years Lee Westwood scored a measure of revenge on Friday, rolling over the American, 3 and 2.

In 11 previous Match Play starts Westwood had failed to advance past the second round. He’s also the only No. 1 seed who has advanced to the Elite Eight. Luke Donald lost on Day 1, Martin Kaymer was beaten, 4 and 3, by Matt Kuchar on Friday and Rory McIlroy is 2 up on Miguel Angel Jimenez through 13 holes.


5:02 p.m.: Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar have both played together on Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teams but the two have never been paired together. On Saturday, however, they will face each other at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Although Mahan likes his chances against Kuchar on Saturday, he has no interest in taking on the undisputed king of the American ping-pong table.

“That wouldn’t be a fair match,” Mahan said.


4:29 p.m.: Hunter Mahan follows Matt Kuchar to the Elite Eight with a 4-and-3 win over Steve Stricker. Lee Westwood seems poised to post the next blowout. He's 3 up on Nick Watney after 14 holes.


4:20 p.m.: Matt Kuchar scores the day's first victory, rolling over Martin Kaymer, 4 and 3. Kuchar, however, wasn't done with his work day and decided to play the last three holes by himself.


3:52 p.m.: Brandt Snedeker cuts Peter Hanson’s lead to a single hole after falling 4 down early. Through 10 holes the two players have halved just three holes.


3:46 p.m.: It appears Nick Watney is bound for another letdown following a big win at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Watney, who beat Tiger Woods on Thursday, 1 up, is 4 down to Lee Westwood after 11 holes. The last two years Watney has beaten Westwood in Round 2 at the Match Play only to be bounced in the third round.


3:39 p.m.: Although anecdotal, it’s worth pointing out amid the recent outcry against long putters that only one player among this week’s Sweet 16 uses an anchored version. Martin Laird, who is 2 up on Paul Lawrie, uses a belly putter. Matt Kuchar, who is 3 up on Martin Kaymer, also uses a longer-than-standard length putter but does not anchor it.


3:14 p.m.: Steve Stricker, who turned 45 on Thursday, is 2 down in his match against Hunter Mahan and playing from the desert at the 10th hole.

Barring a comeback Stricker will fail to advance past the third round for the seventh time since winning this event in 2001.


3 p.m.: Not saying Martin Kaymer is starting to feel the pressure, as if that 3-down hole he’s dug himself against Matt Kuchar isn’t concerning enough, but his girlfriend Allison Micheletti is in the gallery trailing him at Dove Mountain.

Kaymer’s better half is also a professional golfer and a cast member for Big Break Atlantis, which debuts May 14.


2:40 p.m.: There are three potential Ryder Cup preview matches on Friday at Dove Mountain with the European side currently in the clear.

England’s Lee Westwood is 1 up on Nick Watney through six holes and Sweden’s Peter Hanson 3 up on Brandt Snedeker after five holes, while Matt Kuchar holds the U.S. side’s only lead, 2 up through eight, against Martin Kaymer.


2:25 p.m.: Classic game of contrasts in Match 54 between Dustin Johnson and Mark Wilson, who are all square after two holes at Dove Mountain.

Wilson’s driving average this season in 280 yards, compared to DJ’s 306-yard average. At the first hole, Johnson’s drive went 302 yards compared to Wilson’s 279-yard drive.


2:17 p.m.: Rory McIlroy misses a 5 ½-footer for birdie at the first to split the hole with Miguel Angel Jimenez. Even early it seems like a missed opportunity against the “Mechanic.”

Two holes ahead Hanson is 3 up against Brandt Snedeker after opening his round with three consecutive birdies.


2:11 p.m.: Peter Hanson rolls in 34 feet of birdie putts at Nos. 1 and 2 to go 2 up against Brandt Snedeker, who has been quietly dominant so far this week.

In his first two matches Snedeker has not been down more than one hole and he had trailed a total of four of the 38 holes he’d played.


1:47 p.m.: Just twice in the 13-year history of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship have two No. 1-seeded players squared off in the final match.

Eventual champion Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer did it last year and Tiger Woods and Davis Love III in 2004. The odds seem to be improving with each hole that this year will mark the third time No. 1 seeds advance to Sunday.

Lee Westwood opened with consecutive birdies against Nick Watney and is 2 up while Kaymer is all square in his match against Matt Kuchar.


1:29 p.m.: This week’s champion at Dove Mountain will receive 76 world golf ranking points, the highest total this year for any winner, which will give No. 2 Rory McIlroy and No. 3 Lee Westwood enough to move ahead of current No. 1 Luke Donald, who lost on Day 1 to Ernie Els.


1:23 p.m.: Martin Kaymer drew first blood on Day 3 at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, making birdie at the par-5 second hole to go 1 up in his match against Match Kuchar.

Kaymer is one of three No. 1 seeds remaining along with Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, who may have the match of the day against Nick Watney, who beat Tiger Woods on Thursday.


Watch live coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Golf Channel, Friday 2-6PM ET; Saturday noon-2PM ET; Sunday 8AM-1PM ET. NBC coverage can be seen live Saturday/Sunday, 2-6PM ET.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


EUROPE'S BIG 5

Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.