Micheel Continues to Roll at Match Play

By Sports NetworkSeptember 15, 2006, 4:00 pm
HSBC World Mach Play ChampionshipsVIRGINIA WATER, England -- One day after ending Tiger Woods' winning streak, Shaun Micheel played spoiler again when he knocked off Luke Donald on Friday to reach the semifinals at the HSBC World Match Play Championship.
Seeded 15th in the tournament, Micheel opened up a huge advantage on the seventh-ranked Donald, the highest-seeded player remaining, and held off a late charge to win 4 and 2.
Thursday, he did the field a favor by offing Woods to end the world No. 1's winning streak at five tournaments. In the quarterfinals on Friday, he led by as much as 7-up on Donald.
Donald's exit leaves No. 9 Colin Montgomerie the highest-seeded player remaining in the field. Montgomerie, who is also the only former Match Play champion left, knocked off defending champion Michael Campbell, 1-up, with a birdie on the 36th hole.
Montgomerie also beat David Howell in the first round with a birdie on the last hole. On Saturday he will face Paul Casey, who was a 5 and 3 winner over Mike Weir.
Micheel will play Robert Karlsson, who was an easy 4 and 3 winner over Angel Cabrera in the quarters.
With Ryder Cup teammates Woods and Jim Furyk making early exits this week, Micheel is the lone American remaining with a chance to become the first U.S. winner since Mark O'Meara bested Woods in 1998.
He took a 5-up lead on Donald after 18 holes, mostly due to Donald's inability to make many birdies early.
Micheel made eight birdies and one bogey on the first 18 holes, consistently knocking approach shots close on the way to a 65 at the Wentworth Club's par-72 layout. Donald didn't drop any shots, but he made just two birdies for a 70.
'Early in the round he just didn't make any putts,' Micheel said.
Micheel extended his lead to 7-up after 20 holes when he birdied the par-3 second. His momentum slowed towards the end of the match, however, and Donald made a 6-foot par putt at the 15th to trim Micheel's lead to 3-up after 33 holes.
But Micheel was able to clinch the match with a birdie on the next hole, the par-3 16th, where Donald could only make par from the rough.
'I played well,' Micheel said. 'I think it's difficult when you have such a big lead. It wasn't that I played differently (down the stretch), I just played a little more conservatively, particularly with my club selection.
'Short of making a few more birdies on the back nine, I'm really pleased with my round.'
Montgomerie fell 4-down early in his match after the top-seeded Campbell rolled in a 40-foot eagle putt at the par-4 fourth.
But the 1999 champion made birdie putts of 15 feet at the eighth and 3 feet at the ninth to pull within 2-down around the turn. He then added birdies at 14 and 16 to square the match after 18 holes.
Campbell bogeyed the par-3 second to give Montgomerie a 1-up lead after 20 holes, and the match was close after that. Campbell was able to even it three times without taking the lead, the last time coming when Montgomerie missed a long birdie putt at the 17th.
At the 36th and final hole -- the par-5 18th -- both players landed in the same greenside bunker, just inches from each other.
Campbell's next shot hit the rim of the bunker and fell back in, while Montgomerie knocked his within 10 feet to set up a birdie for the win and the match.
'If I had missed (the putt), he would have had his 5-footer for a half and we could well have been on our way to the 37th hole,' said Montgomerie. 'I had to get mine in and I did. It was a good victory but I'm very tired.'
Casey, the 12th seed, had a close match with the 13th-seeded Weir until taking the lead for good when Weir bogeyed their 22nd hole, the par-5 fourth.
Weir struggled with back pain, was visited by medical personnel at the 15th hole, then missed an 18-foot par putt there to give Casey the win after 33 holes -- sending Casey to a meeting with Montgomerie.
'He should be the favorite as he knows this place very well,' Casey said of Montgomerie.
Karlsson, a Ryder Cup rookie, trailed Cabrera for only one hole early in their match. Cabrera made two double-bogeys in three holes at the end, finally missing a left-to-right, 6-foot bogey putt at the par-4 15th to give Karlsson the match after 33 holes.
'My short game has been good and has been the key to my success so far,' said Karlsson, who knocked off Furyk on Thursday. 'I holed a few fantastic putts today and chipped in once yesterday...overall my chipping and short game have been good.'
Related Links:
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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

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    Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

    At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

    Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time Web.com winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

    Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

    “Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

    In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

    “I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

    Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.