Notes A Long Day for Many at Match Play

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2006, 5:00 pm
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
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    Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

    By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

    MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

    Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

    Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

    The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

    On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

    Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

    He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

    In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

    Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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    Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

    By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

    In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

    This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

    Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

    Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

    The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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    Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

    Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

    Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

    Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

    “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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    Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

    By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

    Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

    Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

    “Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

    Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

    “Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

    Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.