WGC-Match Play bracket breakdown

By Jason SobelFebruary 20, 2012, 7:16 pm

Every year, the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is compared with NCAA’s version of March Madness – and every year, we’re “shocked” when 15 and 16 seeds knock off the supposed favorites.

Predicting the Match Play is often an exercise in futility. That doesn’t mean we should bust out the tarot cards and a crystal ball just yet.

Let’s apply a little knowledge to this week’s proceedings at Ritz-Carlton GC in Marana, Ariz., by breaking down each of the four brackets.


View full bracket of 2012 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship

BOBBY JONES BRACKET

Strength: Winners. With Mark Wilson, Brandt Snedeker, Robert Rock and Kyle Stanley in the mix, one-quarter of this bracket has already claimed early-season wins.

Weakness: Depth in the middle. The strength here is both frontloaded and backloaded, but with middle seeds like Jason Dufner, Peter Hanson and Francesco Molinari, there are some comparatively weak spots, too.

Best opening-round match: Dustin Johnson vs. Jim Furyk. Just call it “The Banger vs. The Plodder.” Our man Charlie Rymer compared this match with the tortoise and the hare fable – or maybe it was tortoise and the hair.

Best potential later-round match: Kyle Stanley vs. Brandt Snedeker. This would, of course, by a rematch of the Farmers Insurance Open playoff from just a few weeks ago, in which Snedeker won on the second extra hole at Torrey Pines.

Upset special: Robert Rock over Adam Scott. The recent champion in Abu Dhabi doesn’t often travel to the U.S., so don’t expect him to get back on a plane right away, especially against Scott, who looked fairly ordinary in his first start of the season last week.

Sleeper: Bo Van Pelt. With eighth-place finishes in each of his last two starts, BVP is showing signs of big things coming very soon.

Winner: Luke Donald. Last year’s champion is a tough out in this format due to his propensity for getting up and down from everywhere. A final round at Riviera that saw six consecutive bogeys at one point should be cause for concern, but expect the No. 1 seed to figure things out in a hurry.


BEN HOGAN BRACKET

Strength: Pressure players. This bracket includes a half-dozen competitors (Martin Kaymer, David Toms, Louis Oosthuizen, Graeme McDowell, Y.E. Yang and Zach Johnson) who have won major championships. No other bracket has more than four.

Weakness: Slow play. Anytime Kevin Na and Ben Crane are involved in the same bracket, don’t expect things to move too quickly.

Best opening-round match: Hunter Mahan vs. Zach Johnson. That’s a tough one, though. Could be Graeme McDowell vs. Y.E. Yang or Bubba Watson vs. Ben Crane or Steve Stricker vs. Kevin Na. This bracket easily has the most intriguing opening-day matches of the four.

Best potential later-round match: Graeme McDowell vs. Hunter Mahan. A rematch of the deciding singles match from the most recent Ryder Cup would be must-see TV on both sides of the pond.

Upset special: Ben Crane over Bubba Watson. They may not sing together again, but helmet and unitard beats overalls and chest hair every time.

Sleeper: Greg Chalmers. The lefty isn’t a terrific ball-striker, but can get up and down from everywhere, which should frustrate opponents – including in his first-round match with Martin Kaymer.

Winner: Kevin Na. Slow and steady wins the race – or something like that. Na has been known to play sublime golf in the desert, once nearly winning his first PGA Tour event at the now-defunct tournament in Tucson.


GARY PLAYER BRACKET

Strength: Depth. From top to bottom, this is the deepest of the four brackets, with double-digit seeds going to such strong players as Geoff Ogilvy, Gary Woodland and recent Dubai Desert Classic champion Rafael Cabrera-Bello.

Weakness: Jetlag. Granted, many of these players own a home base here in the U.S., but strangely enough there are only two Americans in this bracket – Keegan Bradley and Gary Woodland.

Best opening-round match: Ian Poulter vs. Sang-moon Bae. With a victory at this event two years ago, Poulter has shown an obvious proficiency for this format, but don’t overlook Bae, who is a ball-striker of the highest magnitude.

Best potential later-round match: Rory McIlroy vs. Sergio Garcia. A potential third-round match on Friday between two of Europe’s greatest exports would display two of the world’s better tee-to-green players around.

Upset special: Rafael Cabrera-Bello over Jason Day. As mentioned, RCB is coming off a victory over a loaded field in his last start. Meanwhile, the Aussie only has a T-62 in his lone U.S. appearance this season.

Sleeper: Simon Dyson. Easily the most overlooked player in the current top-30 on the Official World Golf Ranking, he faces a favorable matchup in John Senden in the opening round.

Winner: Sergio Garcia. It took quite a while, but this just in: Sergio has learned how to putt. If he continues rolling his rock as he did on Sunday at Riviera, expect him to carry some momentum deep into the weekend.


SAM SNEAD BRACKET

Strength: Sleepers. Don’t call ‘em underdogs, but this bracket contains a handful of players (Nicolas Colsaerts, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Martin Laird, to name a few) whom the casual fan wouldn’t recognize, but have abilities that outweight their profiles.

Weakness: Strength at the top. The highest seed in this bracket is Lee Westwood, who has never seen a Friday in 11 appearances at this event. Next is Webb Simpson, who has never played. Then Bill Haas, who lost in the first round in his only previous start.

Best opening-round match: Webb Simpson vs. Matteo Manassero. This match should be a masterclass in how to get the ball into the hole without bombing, gouging or ever looking too pretty.

Best potential later-round match: Tiger Woods vs. Darren Clarke. A long time ago in a land far away, Clarke once defeated his buddy in the Sunday final of this event.

Upset special: Nicolas Colsaerts over Lee Westwood. The Belgian already owns three top-10s in four starts this year and was third at last year’s Volvo World Match Play Championship. He could be the second coming of Martin Kaymer someday soon.

Sleeper: Alvaro Quiros. Not that a guy who can bomb it 350 off the tee can ever be considered sleepy, but the wide fairways of Ritz-Carlton GC should allow for plenty of room to bomb it off the tee.

Winner: Nick Watney. He faces a potentially tough out in Tiger Woods on Thursday, but Watney stays surprisingly calm when thrown into the fire. If he gets past that match, he could have smooth sailing to the Final Four from there.


Join the Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge and make your Match Play picks today

 

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

Getty Images

Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

Getty Images

Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.