Ultimate Match Play Championship semifinal predictions

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GolfChannel.com begins the semifinals of its Ultimate Match Play Championship this week, where you get to vote on who is the greatest of the greats. Our writers weigh in with their second-round predictions. Also, check out GolfChannel.com's Bracket Challenge for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.


Match 13: (1) Jack Nicklaus vs. (4) Bobby Jones

Mell: Nicklaus – After losing to Nicklaus at the 44th hole in sudden death, Jones says: “He does, indeed, play a game with which I’m not familiar.”

Sobel: Nicklaus – Pushed to the limit by the amateur, Nicklaus reaches the par-5 final hole in two, then makes his 30-foot eagle putt for the win, holding the putter aloft like that iconic image from the 1986 Masters.

Hoggard: Nicklaus – Jones may be one of the game’s best match-play players and the semifinal match is destined for extra holes, but the game’s greatest weathers the challenge and advances to the final frame.

Lavner: Nicklaus – Jack hasn’t been threatened yet in this competition, earning 92 percent of the vote in each of his first two matchups. There is no reason to see that ending here either, despite Jones’ match-play prowess. Nicklaus wins, 4 and 3.

Gray: Nicklaus – With impeccable ball-striking and clutch putting throughout the match, Nicklaus stays slightly ahead as the pair hit the heart of the back nine. With Jones threatening a comeback, the Golden Bear pulls off a long-iron approach similar to his 1-iron at Pebble Beach in 1972. As the shot barely leaves the pin before settling a few feet away, Jones’ hopes are all but extinguished as Nicklaus goes on to a 3-and-2 win.


Match 14: (2) Tiger Woods vs. (3) Ben Hogan

Mell: Woods – After watching Hogan knock down one flagstick after another but fail to convert enough birdie attempts, Woods’ putter is the difference at the 51st hole in sudden death.

Sobel: Woods – A true contrast in styles, as Hogan hits fairway and green after fairway and green, while the wild Woods sprays it around, but gets up and down from everywhere. In the end, it's the latter strategy that wins out, as Tiger takes it thanks to his short game.

Hoggard: Woods – In what may be the quietest match of the championship, the famously aloof Hogan builds an early lead, but Woods rallies for a late victory on Pebble Beach’s iconic 18th hole. 

Lavner: Woods – Tiger has the advantage in most every important category against the Hawk, including more PGA Tour titles, more majors and the more impressive Slam. When comparing these two players at the height of their powers, which is our task, then Tiger wins, 3 and 1.

Gray: Woods – Perhaps of all the players in the field, Hogan is least likely to back down to Woods as so many have done over the years. As 18 holes are not enough to decide a winner, the match heads to sudden death and the advantage appears with Hogan as he finds the green on the 19th hole while Woods goes long and left. As he has often done, though, Woods not only gets out of trouble – he holes the difficult pitch. Somewhat stunned, Hogan is unable to match the birdie as Woods wins, 1-up.