What We Learned: WGC-Accenture Match Play
Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on "what we learned" from the world of golf. This week, our writers weigh in on Matt Kuchar's win in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, whether the tournament should remain at Dove Mountain despite problems this week with snow, and Ariya Jutanugarn's heartbreaking loss in the Honda LPGA Thailand.
I’m not going to make any major proclamation about Matt Kuchar soon becoming a major champion. If there’s any bad news for this year’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship winner, it’s that only two of the previous 14 winners of this event followed it with a major title later in the year. (That would be Geoff Ogilvy in 2006 and Tiger Woods in ’08.) So even though Kuchar vaulted himself into The Masters conversation on Sunday, it would be too narrow-minded to declare him on the verge of earning major hardware. Instead, I’ll use this opportunity to celebrate one of the more fascinating careers of the current era. Kuchar was, of course, a highly ranked amateur, making the cut in three of five majors before turning pro. He won in his first full PGA Tour season, but the train to superstardom soon derailed, as Kuchar found himself back on the Nationwide Tour just seven years ago. At that point, it was hard to picture the once heralded phenom as an elite player, but that’s exactly what he’s become, winning a top-level tourney in each of the past three seasons. Kuchar is still searching for that elusive first major, but his journey toward becoming one of the best without one deserves to be celebrated. – Jason Sobel
I initially favored the anchored putter ban when the U.S. Golf Association proposed it last November, but after hearing PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem speak Sunday at Dove Mountain, I may be changing my tune.
"If there’s one thing that prevailed across a lot of players and a lot of our board members was that, (anchored putters have) been around for a generation, and the game of golf has done quite well … Most players are saying, 'Without a significant upside and no competitive advantage, let’s don’t do it,'" Finchem relayed.
In so many words, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. However the ruling plays out, I give major kudos to Finchem and members of the PGA Tour for heavily weighing the pros and cons of the issue, and for taking a stand for what they believe. It made me change my stance, and who knows ... perhaps it will have a similar effect on the USGA. – Bailey Mosier
The Match Play needs a new home in 2015. This was painfully obvious before the freak snowstorm that hit the high desert last week. For years players have grumbled about the greens at Dove Mountain, which feature myriad humps and mounds. The isolated location isn’t ideal. The course is never jammed with spectators. The weather is too unpredictable, with snow, of all things, two of the past three years. If the PGA Tour doesn’t want to put the “world” back in the World Golf Championships – and move the Match Play to Brazil or South Africa, for instance – how about sending the 64-man event to Las Vegas? Or maybe Puerto Rico? You know, some place where it won’t snow in late February. – Ryan Lavner
There's yet another teen phenom ready to challenge the world's best women.
Despite Ariya Jutanugarn's heartbreaking stumble losing the Honda LPGA Thailand at the 72nd hole Sunday, the 17-year-old Thai joined 15-year-old Lydia Ko as the most compelling storylines in the LPGA's first two events of the 2013 season. Jutanugarn lost her bid to become the first Thai to win an LPGA event and the third youngest player to win on that tour, but she scripted a riveting tale doing so. It is remarkable how the women's game consistently delivers these precocious talents.
Two years ago, Lexi Thompson became the youngest winner of an LPGA event at 16. Last year, Ko topped her, winning the CN Canadian Women's Open at 15. Ko took a share of the final-round lead into the LPGA season opener in Australia last week before fading.
It's all enough to make Michelle Wie feel old at 23. – Randall Mell
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