Ultimate Match Play: Round 2 results; Semifinal matchups

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 5, 2013, 11:20 am

Bracket busters?

Not here.

Our 16-man Ultimate Match Play Championship field has been whittled down to just four players and – no surprise – they are the top four seeds. (Click for: Ultimate Match Play overview | Player bios | GolfChannel.com's Bracket Challenge)

Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan and Bob Jones were hardly tested in their quarterfinal matches, with each higher seed receiving at least 56 percent of the online votes at GolfChannel.com.

The semifinals, however, should prove to be these players’ most difficult test yet, as it will require voters to compare generational talents with no head-to-head record.

The most pressing question now: Can Hogan and Jones prevent a seemingly inevitable final match between Jack and Tiger?

(1) Jack Nicklaus def. (9) Gary Player

Of the myriad duels between these two legends, this may have been the most lopsided. The top-ranked Nicklaus crushed the Black Knight, receiving a quarterfinal-best 92.8 percent of the votes to move on to the semifinals. So far, Nicklaus has trounced each of his first two opponents, Phil Mickelson and Player, gaining no less than 92 percent of the popular vote.

(2) Tiger Woods def. (10) Tom Watson

Hey, at least Watson would hope for this kind of match-play dominance from Woods at Gleneagles. There was no love lost between these fierce competitors, who likely exchanged first-tee pleasantries and little more, but Woods prevailed by receiving 79.4 percent of the vote, easily advancing to the semifinal round. Interestingly, Tiger earned nearly 79 percent of the vote in his Round 1 matchup, too, against Seve Ballesteros.

(3) Ben Hogan def. (6) Arnold Palmer

Many predicted an upset here, citing The King’s immense popularity in the golf community. But fans and observers selected Hogan, who has both more PGA Tour wins and major championships than Palmer. Still, this was the closest quarterfinal match, with Hogan receiving 56.1 percent of the vote.

That sets up a blockbuster semifinal matchup between Hogan and Woods, two men who dominated their respective eras in golf.

(4) Bob Jones def. (5) Sam Snead

Picking a favorite for this match was already picking nits, but Jones knocked off the PGA Tour’s all-time leading winner, receiving 59.2 percent of the vote. Now, of course, the best amateur ever will face off against the man with the most majors won.

In 1960, a then-20-year-old Nicklaus spoke glowingly of his semifinal opponent, gushing, “Jones is the greatest golfer who ever lived and probably ever will live. That’s my goal: Bobby Jones. It’s the only goal.”

After watching Jack win the 1965 Masters, Jones commented: 'Nicklaus played a game with which I am not familiar.'

Voting is now open for the two third-round matches, with winners announced on Feb. 12.

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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”

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Rory almost channels Tiger with 72nd-hole celebration

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:11 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy’s final putt at the Arnold Palmer Invitational felt awfully familiar.

He rolled in the 25-footer for birdie and wildly pumped his fist, immediately calling to mind Woods’ heroics on Bay Hill’s 18th green.

Three times Woods holed a putt on the final green to win this event by a stroke.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy was just happy to provide a little extra cushion as the final group played the finishing hole.

“I’ve seen Tiger do that enough times to know what it does,” McIlroy said. “So I just wanted to try and emulate that. I didn’t quite give it the hat toss – I was thinking about doing that. But to be able to create my own little bit of history on the 18th green here is pretty special.”

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McIlroy remembers Arnie dinner: He liked A-1 sauce on fish

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 1:06 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Fresh off a stirring victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy offered a pair of culinary factoids about two of the game’s biggest names.

McIlroy regretted not being able to shake Palmer’s hand behind the 18th green after capping a three-shot win with a Sunday 64, but with the trophy in hand he reflected back on a meal he shared with Palmer at Bay Hill back in 2015, the year before Palmer passed away.

“I knew that he liked A-1 sauce on his fish, which was quite strange,” McIlroy said. “I remember him asking the server, ‘Can I get some A-1 sauce?’ And the server said, ‘For your fish, Mr. Palmer?’ He said, ‘No, for me.’”

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

A few minutes later, McIlroy revealed that he is also a frequent diner at The Woods Jupiter, the South Florida restaurant launched by Tiger Woods. In fact, McIlroy explained that he goes to the restaurant every Wednesday with his parents – that is, when he’s not spanning the globe winning golf tournaments.

Having surveyed the menu a few times, he considers himself a fan.

“It’s good. He seems pretty hands-on with it,” McIlroy said. “Tuna wontons are good, the lamb lollipops are good. I recommend it.”

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DeChambeau comes up short: 'Hat’s off to Rory'

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 12:48 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Amid a leaderboard chock full of big names and major winners, the person that came closest to catching Rory McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational turned out to by Bryson DeChambeau.

While Henrik Stenson faltered and Justin Rose stalled out, it was DeChambeau that gave chase to McIlroy coming down the stretch at Bay Hill. Birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 were followed by an eagle out of the rough on No. 16, which brought him to within one shot of the lead.

But as DeChambeau surveyed his birdie putt from the fringe on the penultimate hole, McIlroy put an effective end to the proceedings with a closing birdie of his own to polish off a round of 64. DeChambeau needed a hole-out eagle on No. 18 to force a playoff, and instead made bogey.

That bogey ultimately didn’t have an effect on the final standings, as DeChambeau finished alone in second place at 15 under, three shots behind McIlroy after shooting a 4-under 68.

“I thought 15 under for sure would win today,” DeChambeau said. “Rory obviously played some incredible golf. I don’t know what he did on the last nine, but it was deep. I know that.”

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

DeChambeau will collect $961,000 for his performance this week in Orlando, just $47,000 less than he got for winning the John Deere Classic in July. While he would have preferred to take McIlroy’s spot in the winner’s circle, DeChambeau was pleased with his effort in Sunday’s final pairing as he sets his sights on a return to the Masters.

“For him to shoot 64 in the final round, that’s just, hat’s off to him, literally. I can’t do anything about that,” DeChambeau said. “I played some great golf, had some great up-and-downs, made a couple key putts coming down the stretch, and there’s not really much more I can do about it. My hat’s off to Rory, and he played fantastic.”