The Best Match-Up

By Rex HoggardFebruary 27, 2011, 6:47 am
2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayMARANA, Ariz. – It may not work for television executives, to say nothing of the casual golf fan, but more so than any other format match play excels at separating the wheat from the competitive chaff.

“I wish we could have more match-play events, maybe mix one into the fall,” said Ryan Moore. And that was after he’d just been bounced from the Arizona desert like a J.B. Holmes tee ball by Luke Donald in the quarterfinals at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, 5 and 4.

All the off-the-shelf golf fan needs to know of Sunday’s finals shootout between Martin Kaymer and Donald is that two of the game’s most consistent players withstood jumping cholla, fierce desert winds and five competitors to reach the title bout. They may not be the game’s brightest lights, but at this moment in time they are the best.

Martin Kaymer
Martin Kaymer will face Luke Donald in the WGC-Match Play final. (Getty Images)
Donald, who hasn’t seen the 18th hole in any of his matches this week and the 17th hole just once, has 11 worldwide top-10 finishes in his last 20 starts, just two missed cuts in that run, a victory and three runner-up finishes including at the Deutsche Bank Championship and Tour Championship.

It’s also worth noting that Donald began his 2011 Tour campaign with a swing change that he admitted on Saturday was still “a work in progress.” That should make Moore feel great, not to mention Matteo Mannassero (3 and 2), Edoardo Molinari (2 and 1) and Charley Hoffman (6 and 5), all of whom the Englishman dispatched with relative ease.

If nothing else, Donald will be rested when he tees off against Kaymer at just past noon here in the cold, and possibly snow covered, Arizona mountains having played just 62 holes to the German’s 67. He may need the extra energy.

The World Golf Ranking will finally catch up to what the golf world has known since last fall – Kaymer is the world’s best. That it took him this long to officially overtake Lee Westwood, which he did with his semifinal victory over Bubba Watson, is the result of a flawed two-year rolling window not Kaymer’s play.

Since his PGA Championship victory, Kaymer has added three more global goblets to his treasure chest and hasn’t finished worse than 31st in his last 11 starts.

Give Sir Nick Faldo credit, the 2008 Ryder Cup captain saw Kaymer’s potential – undoubtedly at the urging of his former caddie Fanny Sunesson, who has become part mentor, part sports psychologist for Kaymer – and gave the young phenom a walkie talkie and a front-row seat at the Valhalla matches.

If Kaymer’s play the last year is any indication, the 2008 Ryder Cup may be the last one he watches from the sidelines for a long time.

In fact, Saturday’s semifinal almost didn’t seem like a fair fight. The rematch of the 2010 PGA playoff was a study in contrasts, in one corner was Kaymer, coldly and clinically efficient, in the other was Watson who never met a swing worth repeating or a risk not worth taking.

Watson didn’t go quietly, carving his approach to the 17th hole to 6 feet for birdie to extend the match, but got into a chipping contest with a European at the last which is never a good idea, just ask Hunter Mahan, and lost 1 up with a bogey at the 18th hole when Kaymer got up-and-down for par with the uncluttered clarity befitting the world No. 1 elect.

“What makes him really strong is his mind,” said Watson, who has played his share of practice rounds with former No. 1 Tiger Woods. “Tiger’s mind in 2000 was unbelievable. I don’t know if (Kaymer’s) mind is that good, but time will tell.”

On Saturday, his ascension to the top of the world pack was no longer up for debate, but his choice of neck-ware was. For those wondering, the cloth Kaymer was wearing around his neck is called a buff which is an apropos assessment of his game.

Whether that lofty new spot translates to his second PGA Tour title, however, may be decided by a format change. The circuit reduced the WGC final from 36 to 18 holes this year, a policy adjustment that may give the hot-handed Donald – who has birdied 39 percent of the holes he’s played this week – an advantage.

“The good thing is we play only 18 not 36 tomorrow,” an exhausted Kaymer said, although he may rethink that after Sunday’s shootout.

It’s why Woods prefers the 36-hole marathon over an 18-hole sprint. It gives the better player more opportunities. Just like match play seems to identify the game’s best with much better expediency than the world ranking, which is why Kaymer and Donald are on a collision course.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.