Dream Match Only a Dream for Now

By Ian HutchinsonSeptember 25, 2007, 4:00 pm
MONTREAL -- What should have been a laid-back Tuesday afternoon at Royal Montreal seemed more like a hectic Saturday afternoon, with the focus already on Sunday singles at the Presidents Cup.
The questions were relentless and repetitive, all seeking a definitive answer that would never come, nor should it at this point in time, with Thursdays foursomes on the immediate horizon.
Still, there was an obsession with a dream match that would put Canadian home boy Mike Weir against the worlds No. 1 player Tiger Woods in a similar showdown as when Woods dueled with Ernie Els in a playoff four years ago in South Africa.
Its a concept that American captain Jack Nicklaus finds intriguing, but needs the cooperation of his International counterpart Gary Player and Weir himself to pull it off.
I think Gary and I will have to talk about it. I think it will be great if Mike Weir played Tiger this time. I think that would be a great match. I think its the logical thing to try to do, but Mike might not want to play him, said Nicklaus.
I have no idea if Gary wants to do that or not and I have no idea if Tiger wants to do that.
The idea definitely does have its appeal from an entertainment point of view, something both Nicklaus and Player deem important. With 28,000 paid customers per day expected at Royal Montreal, the buzz would be electric, but attention on that one match could be overwhelming.
Its also fair to wonder whether it would be a fair fight. While Woods has been red-hot this season, Weir has been tepid at best after reconstructing his swing and changing his coach.
A former Masters champion would seem perfectly suited to face Woods, but another loss on home soil dampened Weirs fortunes after he lost the 2004 Canadian Open to Vijay Singh in a playoff. He has never seemed the same since then, even though Weir will deny that theory.
Ive played with Mike quite a bit over the years, said Woods. I know hes gone through a significant swing change and hes starting to putt a little better now. Its great to have him on the International squad, especially here in Canada. I think that definitely adds to the event.
In other words, Tiger isnt biting on the Sunday question and neither is Weir. Thats tough for me to answer that. We want to win. If Im playing really well, Id love the chance to play him, said Weir.
It might be icing on the cake for me to get a chance to get in there and possibly beat him. I know come Sunday in singles, we just want to pair up who is going to match up the best. Gary wants to make sure that we do the right thing, not just for myself to put me against Tiger, but for everybody.
Player has several considerations before giving in to temptation on the dream match. For one thing, Aussie Nick OHern has beaten Woods twice at the Accenture Match Play Championship, while Els play was admirable in the playoff four years ago that earned his team a tie against the Americans. This years International team is considered the strongest so far in the Presidents Cup, so its unlikely that Player would go for a Weir-Woods match unless it made sense.
In the meantime, the focus for both Player and Nicklaus is putting together their teams for Thursday's foursomes. We basically have our teams for the first two days, said Player. After todays round, we might tweak it a bit, but I dont think so. If you want to know about it, I cant tell you.
Woods, who has struggled with Phil Mickelson as his partner, has apparently picked three players to team up with, likely Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker or Charles Howell III, but says who youre teamed with is often overcooked in match play.
Weve tried all different things throughout the years from personalities to like distances off the tees to same golf balls. Basically, what it boils down to is two guys playing well.
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    Toronto Sun Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun and senior writer for Pro Shop Magazine, a Canadian golf trade publication, and Canadian Golfer Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.