Players get ready for a format that is fickle

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. ' Bob Rotella was a busy man on the range at Dove Mountain, which made perfect sense.
Few tournaments are so baffling that they require the services of golfs most famous psychologist. Half the players are losers after each of six rounds at the Accenture Match Play Championship, where skill isnt nearly as important as luck and timing.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson was all smiles during his Tuesday press conference.(Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson refers to it as six final rounds.
Stuart Appleby had a similar analogy, different day.
The only uncertainty at the start of a regular tournament is if you make the cut, and thats on a Friday, he said. Match play has the ability to make you feel like every round is Friday afternoon. Youre looking at moving forward ' which you should never do ' and then youre booking a flight home. It makes you constantly feel like youre trying to make the cut.
This is the fickle format to which Tiger Woods makes his return.
Oddly enough, the last hole he played essentially was match play. After going 90 holes in the U.S. Open ' four rounds and an 18-hole playoff ' he still was tied with Rocco Mediate. They went to sudden death, and Woods won the next hole with a par.
Woods shot an even-par 71 in his final round at Torrey Pines.
If he can manage a score like that at Dove Mountain, it might be enough to beat Brendan Jones.
Or maybe not.
Match play is a funny game, Jones said. Anything can happen.
It can be maddening at times.
Scott Hoch once had the second-best score during the quarterfinals of Match Play. Just his luck, he happened to be playing Woods, who had the best score.
Stephen Ames recalls being 2-up with three holes to play against Charles Howell III and finishing birdie-par-par ' only to lose.
Robert Karlsson, the No. 7 player in the world, has a unique distinction at Dove Mountain. He is the only player in the 64-man field who has played the Accenture Match Play Championship at least three times without ever winning a match. Its not his fault. A year ago, he shot a 65 in the opening round and ran into a 64 by Paul Casey.
Thats why so many players cant stomach match play more than once a year.
If we had to play match play every single week, guys would retire by the age of 40, Woods said five years ago. And that was after his most dominant victory in Match Play, when he set a tournament record by playing only 112 holes, with only one match going the distance.
And thats why some players cant get enough of it.
Maybe its because Im such a sports fanatic, said Masters champion Trevor Immelman, who wants more of match play. But 99.9 percent of the time, its man-on-man, team-on-team. Thats what sport is. In golf, you can win a tournament and not see 150 guys all week. I think match play is easier for the fans to relate to, and its a nice change. I would love to see this two times a year.
Why not more?
Immelman thought about this for a minute.
Three would be pushing it, he said.
Golf has a long history of match play, and even one of the four majors (PGA Championship) used match play until 1958. It was abandoned because it was not a good fit for television, the gallery could only see two players on the course in the final match, and the format had this nasty habit of knocking the stars out early.
And thats why once a year is probably ample.
This is the only golf tournament that gets less exciting the closer it gets to the trophy presentation. Even during the four years when Woods reached the championship round, Match Play lacked punch on the final day.
Consider what happened at the Northern Trust Open two days ago. Ten players had a chance to win in the final hour at Riviera. At this tournament, only two players have a chance over the final seven hours.
This year might be the exception considering no one has seen Woods compete since the U.S. Open, an eight-month break brought on by reconstructive surgery on his left knee. He has a 31-6 record in this event, but no guarantee he will get out of the first round.
Even when he was in the middle of one of his greatest runs last year, Woods was on the verge of a Wednesday departure until he went birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle to rally against J.B. Holmes. In 2002 ' that was the year he won the Masters and U.S. Open ' Woods didnt get out of the first round, losing to Peter OMalley.
Match play is not fair, Appleby said in more of a statement than a complaint. In the long term, its fair. But its like little snapshots of a tournament. One year at the World Match Play Championship (in England) against Lee Westwood, I was 9 under for my 36 holes, and I would have won every other match. Instead, I went home.
Stephen Ames is in the record books of the Accenture Match Play Championship by playing the two shortest matches ' in consecutive years, no less. One year he lost in 10 holes to Woods (9 and 8), the next year he beat Karlsson in 11 holes (8 and 7).
He is not a big fan of this format, although the more he thought about it, he came up with at least one upside.
Its the only time we get paid on a Wednesday, he said.
Those who lose in the first round get $45,000. Not that Woods needs it to get by.

Note: Tiger Woods' return can be seen live on Golf Channel Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' Tiger's Return
  • Match Play Bracket
  • Match Play Bracket Challenge
  • Full Coverage ' WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Woods' wife gives birth to son Charlie Axel
  • Getty Images

    NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 5:00 pm

    The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

    After three days of stroke play, eight teams have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

    Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


    TV Times (all times ET):

    11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
    4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

    4-8PM: Match-play finals

    Getty Images

    Davis: USGA learned from setup errors at Shinnecock

    By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 4:51 pm

    With the U.S. Open set to return to Shinnecock Hills for the first time in 14 years, USGA executive director Mike Davis insists that his organization has learned from the setup mistakes that marred the event the last time it was played on the Southampton, N.Y., layout.

    Retief Goosen held off Phil Mickelson to win his second U.S. Open back in 2004, but the lasting image from the tournament may have been tournament officials spraying down the seventh green by hand during the final round after the putting surface had become nearly unplayable. With the course pushed to the brink over the first three days, stiff winds sucked out any remaining moisture and players struggled to stay on the greens with 30-foot putts, let alone approach shots.

    Speaking to repoters at U.S. Open media day, Davis offered candid reflections about the missteps that led to the course overshadowing the play during that infamous final round.

    "I would just say that it was 14 years ago. It was a different time, it was different people, and we as an organzation, we learned from it," Davis said. "When you set up a U.S. Open, it is golf's ultimate test. It's probably set up closer to the edge than any other event in golf, and I think that the difference then versus now is we have a lot more technology, a lot more data in our hands.

    "And frankly, ladies and gentlemen, what really happened then was just a lack of water."

    Davis pointed to enhancements like firmness and moisture readings for the greens that weren't available in 2004, and he noted that meterological data has evolved in the years since. With another chance to get his hands on one of the USGA's favorite venues, he remains confident that tournament officials will be able to better navigate the thin line between demanding and impossible this time around.

    "There are parts that I think we learned from, and so I think we're happy that we have a mulligan this time," Davis said. "It was certainly a bogey last time. In fact maybe even a double bogey, and equitable stroke control perhaps kicked in."

    Getty Images

    UCLA junior Vu named WGCA Player of the Year

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 3:23 pm

    UCLA junior Lilia Vu was named Player of the Year on Tuesday by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA).

    Vu recorded the lowest full-season scoring average (70.37) in UCLA history. Her four tournament wins tied the school record for most victories in a single season.

    Vu was also named to the WGCA All-America first team. Here's a look at the other players who joined her on the prestigious list:

    WGCA First Team All-Americans

    • Maria Fassi, Junior, University of Arkansas
    • Kristen Gillman, Sophomore, University of Alabama
    • Jillian Hollis, Junior, University of Georgia
    • Cheyenne Knight, Junior, University of Alabama
    • Jennifer Kupcho, Junior, Wake Forest University
    • Andrea Lee, Sophomore, Stanford University
    • Leona Maguire, Senior, Duke University
    • Sophia Schubert, Senior, University of Texas
    • Lauren Stephenson, Junior, University of Alabama
    • Maddie Szeryk, Senior, Texas A&M University
    • Patty Tavatanakit, Freshman, UCLA
    • Lilia Vu, Junior, UCLA
    Chris Stroud and caddie Casey Clendenon Getty Images

    Stroud's caddie wins annual PGA Tour caddie tournament

    By Rex HoggardMay 22, 2018, 3:15 pm

    Casey Clendenon, who caddies for Chris Stroud, won the gross division of the annual PGA Tour caddie tournament on Monday, shooting a 5-under 66 at Trinity Forest Golf Club, site of last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

    Scott Tway (65), who caddies for Brian Harman, won the net division by two strokes over Wayne Birch, Troy Merritt’s caddie.

    Kyle Bradley, Jonathan Byrd’s caddie, took second place with a 71 in the gross division.

    The tournament was organized by the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, and proceeds from the event went to two charities. The APTC donated $20,000 to Greg Chalmers’ charity,, which aids families living with autism. The association also donated $10,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.