Notes A Long Day for Many at Match Play


2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayCARLSBAD, Calif. -- It was a tight match from the start, neither player leading by more than one hole, until Scott Verplank birdied the par-3 16th to go 2 up against Lee Westwood and figured the match would soon be over.
Not on Wednesday in a wacky start to the Accenture Match Play Championship.
Verplank missed the 17th green and made bogey, then watched Westwood hole a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th to send the match into extra holes. Verplank had twice gone overtime before, and both times lost.
This was far tougher.
He had to make an 8-footer for par on the second extra hole to stay in the match, and a 6-footer for par on the fourth hole. Westwood made a 10-footer for par on the fifth hole, and on they went until the Englishman got into trouble in the trees on the par-5 eighth and made bogey.
'I was happy when he gave me that little 8-incher,' Verplank said. 'He said, 'That's good.' And I went, 'Thank God.''
It was one of seven matches that went extra holes, breaking by one the record set in the first round of 2004. If that wasn't enough, six matches were not decided until the 18th hole.
And then there was Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman.
He closed out Stuart Appleby, 3 and 2, with a 10-foot birdie, then walked briskly to the 17th tee as Appleby began the long walk toward the clubhouse.
'Is it OK to play the last two holes?' Lehman said. 'I haven't seen them yet.'
Colin Montgomerie also got his fill of La Costa Resort, blowing a 4-up lead through eighth and having to go 23 holes. It wasn't his best golf, as he made only one birdie -- on the par-5 third in overtime -- and that was to stay in the match.
Some players will remember the bumpy greens and soggy fairways at La Costa.
Bernhard Langer will never forget the fire.
La Costa used to host the winners-only Mercedes Championships before it moved to Kapalua, and Langer recalled playing in a pro-am in 1986 as they walked down what now is the fourth fairway.
'One of my amateur partners goes, 'Oh, there's smoke up there,'' Langer said. 'And we're looking up on the hill, and there's these beautiful homes on top of the hill. And he said, 'Heck, that's my house on fire.''
Langer said the man took off running up the hill.
'It was pretty sad for him,' he said. That's what stands out for me.'
Someone asked Langer if his amateur partner at least finished out the hole.
'No, he ran up the hill as fast as anyone could run,' he said. 'He was gone, never to be seen again -- certainly not for the pro-am.'
Adam Scott is among those who will be sorry to leave La Costa.
Even though the 25-year-old Australian has not won the Match Play Championship, he reached the semifinals in 2003 and the quarterfinals last year, both times losing to the eventual champion.
His record at La Costa is now 12-4.
Getting to the second round Wednesday, however, required some work. Scott dropped the first two holes, then surged ahead to for a 1-up lead going into the par-5 11th. He hooked his tee shot into a bunker, laid up into the rough and barely reached the green, 45 feet away.
Lucas Glover was in front of the green in two and pitched to about 10 feet.
Scott made his putt, and Glover missed. But just when the Aussie thought it was over, he made consecutive bogeys from the fairway to go all square, then recovered with a 25-foot birdie on the 16th for a 2-and-1 victory.
'I've got to lift my game for anyone else,' Scott said. 'Two up with five to play, you've got to bury the guy.'
Nothing personal. Both sponsored by Titleist, Scott and Glover made dinner plans for later in the year after they shook hands.
All it takes is one shot to change momentum in match play, and Davis Love III was reminded of that Wednesday against Mark Hensby.
He was 3 up through five holes, and with the tee moved forward 50 yards on No. 6 to play 328 yards, he launched a driver over the trees, over the creek and to within two paces of the green. Hensby had no choice but to follow, but his tee shot landed in deep rough.
Hensby hacked out to 5 feet, Love gunned his chip 6 feet by. Love missed, Hensby made.
Instead of going 4 up, Love was only 2 up and the bleeding started. He stubbed a chip on the next hole and lost, found the rough off the tee on the par-5 eighth and Hensby won with a simple pitch for birdie, and the match was all square.
It all turned on the ninth. Love hit a beautiful approach to 15 feet below the hole, while Hensby came up short of the green and chipped 10 feet by. Love had the hole won easily, but hammered his putt 5 feet by. Hensby could have won the hole, but his par putt just missed, and Love made his par to go 1 up.
Love never lost another hole and won, 2 and 1.
The United States had only 25 players in the 64-man field, its lowest ever. Thirteen Americans are left going into the second round. Europe started with 17 players and is down to nine. ... Stephen Ames has played the Match Play Championship twice, but has played only 22 holes. He played 12 holes against Mark Hensby last year, and 10 against Tiger Woods. ... The featured match Thursday will be Phil Mickelson against John Daly.
Related Links:
  • Scoreboard - WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Full Coverage - WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Match Play Brackets