Hooks and Cuts: Match Play Nuggets


MARANA, Ariz. – This week – and for the only time on the PGA Tour all season – the men will compete against one another in a match play format. On the eve of the event, here are a few nuggets to chew on:

  • Friday at the Ryder Cup, Thursday at the Masters and Wednesday at the Match Play – the three best weekdays in golf.
  • On paper, these are the best Round 1 match-ups: Lee Westwood against former champ Henrik Stenson, who’s a shadow of the guy who won here in '07; Steve Stricker against Matteo Mannasero with Stricker celebrating his 44th birthday against a 17-year-old; Ian Poulter against Stewart Cink in a twitter showdown; Ernie Els against Jeff Overton; Geoff Ogilvy against Padraig Harrington; Tiger Woods against Thomas Bjorn; and Hunter Mahan against Sean O’Hair in a battle of Sean Foley students.
  • WGC-Match Play TV Schedule
    (All times Eastern)

    Golf Channel_new
    Wed: Noon-6 p.m.

    Thurs: 2-6 p.m.
    Fri: 2-6 p.m.
    Sat: Noon-2 p.m.
    Sun: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

    NBC Sports
    Sat: 2-6 p.m.

    Sun: 2-6 p.m.

    One swing theorist I know swears that Foley’s channeling Mac O’Grady in his work with Tiger.
  • It's tempting to look ahead to some tasty Day 2 matchups, like Woods against Harrington, Bubba Watson against Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler against Phil Mickelson or Mannasero against Ryo Ishikawa in a teen idol duel. Graeme McDowell says he’s just trying to make it past lunch on Wednesday.
  • Randall Mell reports that the average world ranking of this year’s PGA Tour winners is 151. Hard to build a marketing campaign around him, but Rank and File’s been better than Young Gun and better than Bankable Star. 
  • Overton’s a sleeper. Ryan Palmer is, too. Beware the Retief Goosen. But Martin Kaymer’s the pick.
  • There are two scary possibilities with Tiger. One is that he masters the low bullet fade and starts hitting fairways with regularity. The other is that he develops the full swing yips. 
  • Westwood’s agent Chubby Chandler meets with Tim Finchem this week. His message will be simple: “We have nothing against The PGA Tour,” he said.  
  • Ogilvy says he won the 2006 U.S. Open thanks to his victory earlier that year at the Match Play. 'I might’ve had 25 must make putts that week at the Match Play,' he said. 'Or you feel they are must make at the time and you might have one of them every month in stroke-play events. So I felt really good about making pressure putts and pressure up-and-downs at the U.S. Open because I’d done it at the Match Play.'
  • Quarterfinal match-ups that would excite include: Mickelson against McDowell and Woods against Els.
  • Kaymer hit one slightly peeled tracer after the next on the practice tee this morning, the kind that wins U.S. Opens. His Augusta draw he says, is a work in progress.
  • Tiger’s the most likely top seed to go down on Day 1 if only because Bjorn just won in Qatar. 
  • McIlroy arrives with less hair and less body fat. He’s fit and trimmed.
  • Vijay Singh might’ve been dangerous, but he got rolling too late.
  • In the Nick O’Hern role of left-handed, Australian upset specialist, Richard Green’s a threat to send Paul Casey packing.
  • One reporter pointed out that should Poulter lose, he could be done by 11 a.m. local time Wednesday, making his the shortest title defense in history.
  • Hard to believe, but in 10 previous appearances here, Phil’s made it to the quarterfinals just once and never to the semis.
  • Ben Crane’s releasing his third video spoof soon; this one believe it or not on slow play. In the realm of positive changes in the public perception of an athlete, it may not equal George Foreman’s transformation from surly ring monster to lovable grill pitchman, but Crane going from slowest player on the planet to 'Saturday Night Live'-style comic actor is impressive. 
  • Ogilvy dabbles with the guitar as an escape from golf. He loves Jimi Hendrix. 'He was like Seve,' says Ogilvy. 'He did stuff that no one though was possible.' That’s why we love Ogilvy. He may be the only player capable of drawing that comparison.