Its Time Once Again for Match Play Madness

By February 20, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureThe year's first World Golf Championship event is upon us and with it comes one predictable element - that it's just plain unpredictable. To borrow the moniker from college basketball's NCAA tournament in March, the PGA TOUR's version could very well be called 'February Madness.'
 
Sure, Tiger Woods has won it twice, but the unpredictable factor in those two years was that it came in the back-to-back seasons in which he didn't chalk up even one major title -- two of the poorest seasons in his career. Go figure.
 
Like all the players are fond of saying, 'Over 18 holes anything can happen.' Translation: match play is utterly unpredictable to the point where anybody can beat anybody. Many would argue that this is a good thing. Like, say, a Kevin Sutherland, the 2002 winner of this event.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has two wins in this event and a runner-up showing. (WireImage)
As far as forecasting the outcome of the ninth edition of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, well, that's a fool's game really. But armed with the following shag bag full of information, you will hopefully be at least a wise fool.
 
  • We obviously start with Tiger. Like we mentioned, he's a two-time winner here and a player with legendary match play skills -- think six straight USGA amateur titles. As a professional, he has more than backed up that status with an overall record of 23-5 at this event. Throw in a combined 6-2-1 record from the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup singles matches and Mr. Woods is clearly the man to beat. However, he was bounced out by Chad Campbell in the third round last year and Nick O'Hern clipped him in the second round in 2005. He also fell to Peter O'Malley -- who? -- in the first round in 2002.
     
  • In 2002, the final four consisted of the 62nd, the 45th, the 47th, and the 35th seeds. Last season was just as topsy-turvy with the 52nd, 23rd, 59th and 41st seeds advancing to the final four.
     
  • Seven of the first eight years of its existence, the event was played at La Costa Resort and Spa (the lone exception being a trip to Australia in 2001). This year, though, the tournament is moving to the spectacular The Gallery at Dove Mountain in Tucson, Ariz. Any familiarity players had with this event will now be gone. It is a 7,351-yard, par-72 layout.
     
  • The first round pairing that looks to be the most evenly matched - at least on paper - is Tim Clark versus Robert Allenby. They sit 32nd and 33rd, respectively, in the seedings. Clark has never won a match in three appearances. Allenby's record is a respectable 8-6 and is coming off a third-place finish at Riviera. Australia over South Africa in Rd. 1.
     
  • A couple of seeds that might not deserve a second look are the 64th, the 58th and the 51st. They have combined to win just four out of 28 matches.
     
  • Last year, little known Geoff Ogilvy came to this event ranked 53rd in the world. Six matches later - the first four of them going extra holes - and a win over Davis Love III in the finals and the Aussie was the toast of the town. Several months later Ogilvy was the last man standing at Winged Foot and the new U.S. Open champion. Sometimes a win in such a big event as this can do wonders for your confidence.
     
  • Then again sometimes not (see the aforementioned Kevin Sutherland, who also happened to be the highest seed to ever win the event).
     
  • Although the world rankings have changed dramatically over the past several years, with less and less Americans appearing in the top 50 spots, the USA has twice been the only country represented in the final four. First in 1999 and then again in 2002. That being said, this year marks the fewest amount of Americans ever in the field - 23. It also marks the most countries ever to be represented - 19.
     
  • Historically, the No. 5 seed - this year it's the Ernie Els - has the only losing record among the top-16 seeds with a overall record of just 6-8. The best records belong to those of No. 1 (thanks to Tiger), No. 3 and 4, and Nos. 6, 10 and 14.
     
    David Toms
    David Toms put on a remarkable display of golf en route to his win in 2005. (WireImage)
  • Phil 'Hop on my Roller Coaster' Mickelson. Don't bet on Lefty sticking around too long this week. It's his sixth straight event and coming off another disaster equates to 'let's go home and hang out with the family.' He has only gotten past the third round once in eight starts and has twice been bounced in the first round.
     
  • David Toms' play in the 2005 edition was nothing short of amazing. On the way to the finals, he disposed of Mickelson, Adam Scott and Ian Poulter. And that was just the appetizer. In the final, he took down one of the grittiest match play players in Chris DiMarco, 6 and 5. Toms lost in the third round last year.
     
  • And Toms' first round opponent this year? Arron Oberholser. Toms would appear to have a really good chance to advance seeing as Oberholser is day-to-day with an injury that was supposed to keep him out of action for at least another week or two.
     
  • By making the field this year, Stuart Appleby will be the only player to play in all nine WGC-Match Play events. Quantity doesn't translate into quality however, as he has exited in Rd. 1 on five occasions. Best run was in 2001when he made it to the third round.
     
  • World No. 2 Jim Furyk has competed in the WGC-Match Play six times. Three times he has left after Rd. 1 - including the last two seasons - and three times he has only managed to make it to just the third round.
     
  • Currently ranked 14th in the world, Paul Casey will look to keep his hot streak in match play going. He was a huge winner at the HSBC World Match Play Championship last fall in England, where he took down Retief Goosen, Mike Weir and European Ryder Cup teammate Colin Montgomerie before pummeling Shaun Micheel, 10 and 8, in the final.
     
  • Speaking of the HSBC World Match Play Championship, Ernie Els has a phenomenal record in that particular match play event, winning the title on six separate occasions. Twice he has pulled off the trifecta, capturing the event three straight times - 1994, '95, '96 and then again in 2002, '03, '04. At this particular match play event, however, his results have been less than stellar. He has played it six times and has only once made it past the second round. Els, for one, is ecstatic that the tournament has changed locations.
     
  • The largest margin of victory was Tiger's 9-and-8 thumping of Stephan Ames last year's first round. That demolition was preceded by some regretful remarks by Ames, in which he said that he felt he could beat Tiger. Brett Quigley, who was set to be matched against Tiger before a withdrawal changed his opponent to Furyk, has since turned Ames' name into a verb, saying this past week that he'd avoid any smack talk with Tiger in order to not, 'Stephan Ames this.'
     
  • The first round will be played Wednesday followed by round two on Thursday, the third round Friday, and then both the quarterfinals and semifinals on Saturday. The 36-hole final will be played on Sunday. There is also an 18-hole consolation match to determine third and fourth place on Sunday.
     
  • GOLF CHANNEL will have exclusive coverage of the first three days of action beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET Wednesday, along with weekend morning coverage beginning at 10:00 a.m.
     
    Related Links
  • Match Play Brackets
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  • Full Coverage - WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
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    How to watch The Open on TV and online

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

    You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

    Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

    In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

    Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

    (All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.