Major Match Play Championship: Elite 8

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2014, 11:40 am

The 1986 Masters easily advanced through the first round of the Major Match Play Championship. So did the “Duel in the Sun,” the 1977 British Open. As did the “Miracle at Merion,” Ben Hogan’s victory at the 1950 U.S. Open.

The historic 1913 U.S. Open won by Francis Ouimet remains alive. So do three of the five Tiger Woods major championship triumphs that are part of this competition, including his historic 12-shot runaway at the ’97 Masters and his record 15-shot rout at the 2000 U.S. Open.’s quest to identify the greatest major championship ever played continues this week with online voting deciding which majors continue to advance in the match-play format. The highest seed in every first-round match won last week, but let’s see how they fare in some compelling second-round matches, none more compelling than Woods’ 2000 U.S. Open title against his ’08 U.S. Open title.

Week 1 results and voting percentages

Week 2 voting: Vote now!

Process for determining our 16 majors

Major championship photo gallery

Here are the quarterfinal matches with the first-round results below (seeds in parentheses). Check out the matchups and vote below.

(1) 1986 Masters vs. (8) 1960 U.S. Open

Nicklaus’ last major championship victory, the most emotional and unexpected of his record 18 major titles, faces some stiff competition. The ’86 Masters is up against the ’60 U.S. Open, a major that featured so many compelling twists and turns and a classic Arnold Palmer charge. The King came from seven shots back in the final round to win at Cherry Hills. There was more than that to marvel over, though. Just a 20-year-old amateur back then, Nicklaus worked his way to the top of the leaderboard for a time in that final round. So did a 47-year-old Ben Hogan.

(4) 1950 U.S. Open vs. (5) 1977 British Open

Hogan’s “Miracle at Merion,” his ’50 U.S. Open victory just 16 months after a car crash nearly killed him, faces the combined star power of Tom Watson and Nicklaus. The ’77 British Open featured one of the great duels in major championship history with Watson beating Nicklaus in head-to-head pairings on Saturday and Sunday at Turnberry. Watson won the championship by a stroke, shooting 65-65 on the weekend to beat Nicklaus, who shot 65-66.

(2) 1997 Masters vs. (7) 1913 U.S. Open

This is basically the appeal of Woods as a dominant force against the underdog former caddie who put American golf on the map. Woods made his first major championship victory look like a coronation, his 12-shot rout at the ’97 Masters announcing the arrival of a new star in major championship golf. Ouimet’s victory at the ’13 U.S. Open at Brookline put golf on the front pages of newspapers around the world. The amateur’s upset of British titans Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in a playoff popularized the sport in the United States.

(3) 2008 U.S. Open vs. (6) 2000 U.S. Open

It’s Woods vs. Woods. It’s Woods at his most spectacular, his 15-shot rout at Pebble Beach in the 2000 U.S. Open, against Woods at his grittiest and most resolute, his playoff victory against Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines in the ’08 U.S. Open. Woods won at Pebble Beach showing no weakness or vulnerability. He won over 91 holes at Torrey Pines limping and wincing his way to the trophy on a fractured tibia and torn knee ligament in his left leg.

Getty Images

Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

Getty Images

McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

Getty Images

What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x