Chris DiMarco's record doesn't seem to support that theory.
He won a clutch match at the Presidents Cup in South Africa in 2003. He was the only American with a winning record at the Ryder Cup a year later. His singles match victory in 2005 at the Presidents Cup delivered an emotional victory for the Americans. And his record at the Accenture Match Play Championship is 12-6, including a runner-up finish in 2005 to David Toms.
Then again, his last PGA TOUR victory was five years ago, and he has only three victories in his career.
DiMarco thinks it's only a matter of bad timing.
'I look back at the seconds I've had in the past two or three years, and every one of those I've played well enough to win,' he said. 'I just got beat by somebody. That's going to happen on the PGA TOUR unless you last name is Woods.'
Sure enough, he lost a playoff to Tiger Woods in the '05 Masters after they finished seven shots ahead of the field. He was runner-up to Woods at the British Open last summer, three shots clear of third place. He also pointed to Firestone in 2005, when he was tied for the lead until Woods birdied the 16th hole.
'I've put myself in position to win,' he said. 'Obviously, I feel like I should have won more tournaments than I have. And you're right. Closing is what it's all about.'
DiMarco said he gets tentative in stroke play, especially on the greens, because running it too far past the hole for a potential three-putt often doesn't matter in match play.
He won his opening matching Wednesday, breezing by Ryder Cup teammate Brett Wetterich, 4 and 3.
PHIL AND BUTCH
Butch Harmon spent about 15 minutes with Phil Mickelson on the practice range at The Gallery on Tuesday, and it created quite a buzz. Golf World magazine posted a story that ESPN put on its Web site with a headline, 'Mickelson turns to Harmon for help with driver woes.'
The AP quoted Harmon on Tuesday as saying Mickelson's swing coach, Rick Smith, was not in Arizona this week and that Lefty had called Harmon and asked him to take a look. Harmon spent about 15 minutes with him.
Smith told the magazine he had 'zero issues with it.'
'Phil called me five minutes afterward and said, 'You know the media is going to make a big deal out of it. I want you to know there's nothing to it,'' Smith said. 'I've had so many guys who work with other teachers come up and ask me to look at their swings. Nothing's up.'
Asked about it after he beat Richard Green, Mickelson said only, 'I'm not going to go there.'
'We've been friends for a long time,' he said of Harmon.
The tournament began with 23 Americans and 19 Europeans among the 64-man field at The Gallery.
After one round, Europe is 1-up.
Going into Thursday's matches, Europe has 11 players still alive, one more than the Americans. And in the four matches Wednesday between the two continents, Europe won them all -- Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain over Paul Goydos; Niclas Fasth of Sweden over Joe Durant; Ian Poulter of England over Bart Bryant; and Henrik Stenson of Sweden over Zach Johnson.
There are three U.S.-Europe matches in the second round. Sergio Garcia of Spain takes on Charles Howell III; Justin Rose of England plays Phil Mickelson; and Padraig Harrington of Ireland faces Stewart Cink.
Bradley Dredge might have felt like hiding on the British Airways flight to America.
On the screen were highlights from the Goodwill Cup, an exhibition that turned into a lowlight for the Welshman. The exhibition came down to his match against Peter Senior, and Dredge chopped up the final hole so badly it took him four to reach the green.
'It was a bit of a funny one,' Dredge said. 'I saw it was on the plane and decided not to watch it. I didn't want to see my swing on the last tee there.'
He wouldn't mind seeing highlights of his match against Ernie Els, though. In his debut at the Accenture Match Play Championship, he took out fifth-seeded Ernie Els in 15 holes.
SEEING THE BIGGER PICTURE
Charl Schwartzel passed up a chance to play this week, where even losing in the first round -- he would have played Ernie Els -- pays $40,000.
Instead, the 22-year-old South African decided to stay home and play the Telkom PGA Championship on his native Sunshine Tour, where he can win the Order of Merit. And even though he passed on an opportunity to win $1.35 million and a World Golf Championship title, Schwartzel could pick up plenty of other perks.
'It's an interesting one,' Trevor Immelman said of his fellow South African. 'But once he wins the South African Order of Merit, he will get into the British Open, Bridgestone (Invitational), the CA Championship in Doral, as well as the Million Dollar Challenge, which is a massive event for us South Africans.
'He felt like if he was going to give up this one, he was going to gain four other big ones. So I can understand it.'
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