WGC-Match Play needs to abandon Dove Mountain

By Rex HoggardFebruary 20, 2013, 10:17 pm

MARANA, Ariz. – So this is why Phil Mickelson skips the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Sure, it’s a good time for Mickelson to get away with the family after a hectic West Coast, not to mention the potential one-and-done nature of the event. But as a wet heavy snow blanketed The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club just before lunch on Wednesday, Mickelson’s brilliance descended on Dove Mountain like a winter storm. There are numerous things you can’t do in the snow, and playing golf would be atop that list.

“It’s weird,” Charles Howell III shrugged, summing up the collective vibe at the year’s first World Golf Championship.

It’s sad, is what it is.


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Let this be where the conversation becomes serious: that it is time to leave Dove Mountain behind for greener, not to mention warmer, climes. For those who claim this view to be reactionary, we humbly submit the following exchange.

Reporter: “Have you seen anything like this?”

Tour weatherman: “Yeah, two years ago at Dove Mountain.”

In the hours before the 2011 final between Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer about an inch of snow blanketed this slice of desert heartland, and briefly during the final turn the competitors and thin gallery encountered flurries.

OK, any other time?

“It snowed here another time; when we were playing at Tucson National we had a snow problem. It was the Tucson Open,” recalled Mark Russell, the Tour’s vice president of rules and competition. “We were playing Tucson National, probably late '90s.”

Let the record show that not once while this event was played at La Costa Resort in Southern California, from 1999 to 2006, was a round impacted by snow. Torrential rains that flooded fairways and made holes unplayable, sure. But never snow.

Circumstantially, it should also be noted that in a 15-year career covering golf your scribe has been snowed on just three times while at an event. Two of those weather happenings occurred on this Arizona hill.

Wednesday’s white out, which arrived about an hour before the top-seeded players were to tee off and without a single match completed, was so surreal that it was actually the waiting that surprised players the most.

“I was surprised to hear the Tour say they wanted us to wait and see (if play would resume on Wednesday),” said defending champion Hunter Mahan, who was 4 up through nine holes against Matteo Manassero. “That was crazy.”

No, crazy is a 19-year Tour career that not once – not once – has featured a similar snow delay. In fact, Jim Furyk had to go all the way back to a 1984 high school tournament to remember the last time he’d played an event that had suffered a snow delay.

“There is a reason we don’t play in cold weather,” Furyk shrugged. “Follow the sun, isn’t that it?”

To be clear, Furyk, a player director on the Tour’s Policy Board, was not suggesting a change of venue for the Match Play, but his point is valid nonetheless.

And it’s not just unforgiving weather patterns that have plagued the WGC’s tenure atop Dove Mountain. Since 2007, when the Tour uprooted the Match Play from La Costa for the Tucson highlands, the galleries have been thin, the golf courses have been tolerated and the Sundays have been largely undistinguished.

It is time, as the great communicator Ronald Reagan once figured, the Tour votes with its feet and this was true long before Wednesday’s storm dumped 1 ½ inches of white stuff on the Jack Nicklaus design.

There is nothing wrong with the Match Play that a move to TPC Scottsdale couldn’t fix. Sure they have bad weather in Phoenix, but do you remember the delays or the gazillion fans surrounding the 16th hole?

Or, since the Tour seemed to misplace its globe when it conjured up the World Golf Championships – just one of the four WGCs are played outside the lower 48 – maybe it’s time to pull out the passports.

We hear Brazil is lovely this time of year.

If all this sounds like sour grapes frozen solid by Wednesday’s Nor’wester, consider one Tour member’s take this week when informed the press corps had a distaste for Dove Mountain. “So do the players,” he said.

Play will carry on Thursday, with officials planning to complete Round 1 and play catch up over the weekend. “I don't think we'll have any problem at all, if the weather remains nice, finishing Sunday on time,” Russell said.

And there seems to be no room for an immediate fix since the current Tour contract with Dove Mountain runs through the 2014 event, but if the seeds of serious discontent were not sown in Wednesday’s snow storm then they never will.

“Stay warm,” Steve Stricker’s caddie Jimmy Johnson told Henrik Stenson before the group teed off on Wednesday. Less than 15 minutes later the best Wednesday on Tour had been transformed into a winter wonderland.

Somewhere Phil Mickelson is smiling.

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

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

Former Web.com 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 Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com 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.

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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.


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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?

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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."

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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