Match Play Set for Classic Match-ups

By Golf Channel NewsroomFebruary 22, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayEver year the mind fills with wonderful possibilities: Vijay vs. Phil; Phil vs. Retief; Retief vs. Vijay; Tiger vs. any of them. But every year, when it comes to these classic match-ups, the WGC-Accenture Match Play proves more tease than truth.
 
This year, however, maybe the tournament will deliver on all of its promise. Because although the season is only seven events old, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh have accounted for four of those titles.
 
The only big name absent this week is Ernie Els, who would have been the No. 3 seed.
 
As player-turned-broadcaster-turned-player Curtis Strange used to say about 72 times a telecast: match play is a different animal.
 
When youve got (just) 18 holes, anything can happen, Woods has said.
 
And it usually does.
 
Woods lost to Darren Clarke in the 2000 final, and then fell victim as the No. 1 seed to Peter OMalley in the first round two years later.
 
He then won the tournament over David Toms in 2003, and did the same over Davis Love III a year ago. Last years victory was his lone PGA Tour title of the season. And, in a perfect example of match-play quirkiness, he was about one good swing from being bounced once again in the opening round.
 
Woods narrowly escaped No. 64 seed John Rollins on the first day, when Rollins, 1-up through 16 holes, bogeyed the 17th and then truly butchered the 18th to fall 1-down.
 
Match play has the ability to pack more pressure and excitement into a days play than does stroke play ' Day 1 of the Accenture Match Play will be far more exciting than the opening 18 holes at last weeks Nissan Open.
 
But its also more unpredictable than a bounce on Pebble Beach greens.
 
In 2002, the top 3 seeds were ousted in the first round, as Mickelson and David Duval joined Woods on the list of Day 1 casualties at La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., which will again play host this year.
 
Upsets are more than commonplace in this event ' they are almost expected. Thats because there is very little separation of skill between the top 64 or so players in the world ' at least over 18 holes.
 
Over 18 holes, you know, say I was playing Tiger, if I make a couple of good putts and get momentum going my way, and make a few birdies, anything is possible, said Kevin Sutherland, who won the six-round tournament in 2002.
 
Not to say that you can beat Tiger Woods in four rounds, but its easier to do that in an 18-hole match.
 
At this level it doesn't take much to lose a match, said Woods. You go out there and lose a couple of holes in a row and get behind. These guys are that much better. They don't make mistakes. And that's one of the things you realize when you play at this elite level, is that the guys don't make a whole lot of mistakes.
 
And when they do, pressure can sometimes be the culprit.
 
When you go into an 18-hole match, especially if you're the lower seed, you feel you have nothing to lose. You're going for your shots, you're not worried about the consequences, and thats why it turns up upsets, said Padraig Harrington.
 
If you're drawing against a lower seed, it's automatically on the paper that he's the underdog and you're the favored. Everybody likes being the underdog. Its much harder being the favorite.
 
Last year's final featured the No. 1 seed vs. No. 3. Thats as close to a marquee match-up that the event has ever displayed on Sunday.
 
The inaugural event, in 1999, saw No. 24 Jeff Maggert defeat No. 50 Andrew Magee. No. 19 Clarke knocked off No. 1 Woods in 2000. When 40 players opted not to make the trip to Melbourne, Australia in January 2001, No. 55 Steve Stricker eventually defeated No. 21 Pierre Fulke. In the upset-filled event of 2002, No. 62 Sutherland edged No. 45 Scott McCarron for the title. And in 2003, No. 1 Woods outlasted a game David Toms, who was seeded sixth.
 
Obviously, most of those are not the dynamic final matches that television executives and tour officials would desire.
 
Match play and television dont always jive. And its not every players favorite format. Thirty-two players will make the trip to Southern California for only one day of competition.
 
I enjoy it because you only get to play it maybe once a year, said Robert Allenby.
 
And that time is now.
 
Its time for players ' whether or not they enjoy the change in format ' to alter their approach, refocus their philosophy, and do what they can to avoid extinction and play the next day.
 
Whatever it takes to advance, said Woods of his match-play approach. Whether you shoot 10 over par and advance or 10 under par and advance ' it doesnt matter. Whatever it takes to advance ' thats the name of the game.
 
You know that all you have to do is just beat your opponent that day, just be better than your opponent.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - WGC-Accenture Match Play
  • Getty Images

    Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

    By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.


    Getty Images

    Watch: 100mph storm destroys tent at St. Andrews

    By Grill Room TeamSeptember 20, 2018, 4:25 pm

    The Old Course at St. Andrews has endured all sorts of wacky weather over the years, but things ratcheted up a notch this week with the arrival of Storm Ali.

    The first named storm of the season struck Wednesday, bringing 100 mph gusts, killing two people and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power in parts of Ireland, Scotland and England.

    According to the Courier no one was injured in the St. Andrews area, but a video posted from the home of golf shows just how powerful the storm was as wind absolutely destroyed one of the hospitality tents set up in advance of the Dunhill Links Championship:

    While plenty of clean-up is sure to be needed, officials say the Dunhill Links, which also be conducted at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, will go on as scheduled October 4-7.

    Getty Images

    Web.com Tour releases 2019 schedule, trims Finals

    By Will GraySeptember 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

    The Web.com Tour has officially released its full schedule for the 2019 season, a slate that will feature a Labor Day finish and only three Finals events as opposed to four.

    The developmental circuit will feature 27 tournaments, the same number as this season. Things will kick off in the Bahamas for the third straight year, as two events in the islands begin a stretch of five events in as many weeks across four different countries.

    The Feb. 14-17 Suncoast Classic in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., will be the first domestic event of 2019, and one of three new events to the schedule. Also added are the Evans Scholars Invitational in suburban Chicago and the TPC Colorado Championship in Berthoud, Colo.

    But with the PGA Tour overhauling its schedule and dropping a FedExCup playoff event to finish ahead of football season, the Web.com schedule also features changes next year. The Web.com Tour Finals, which are used to determine the 50 players who will be promoted to the PGA Tour for the following season, will now feature only three events and follow a similar timeline.

    The first Finals event will be the Aug. 15-18 Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, followed by the Albertsons Boise Open. The season will conclude Aug. 30-Sept. 2 with the Web.com Tour Championship in Atlantic Beach, Fla., one week after the PGA Tour season ends with the revamped Tour Championship in Atlanta.

    The DAP Championship at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio, a Finals event for each of the last three years, has been dropped from the 2019 schedule. Gone, too, are the North Mississippi Classic in Oxford and the Rust-Oleum Championship in Ivanhoe, Ill.

    Getty Images

    Inside Attica: Interviewing Valentino Dixon

    By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 2:00 am

    By RYAN GRIFFITHS

    Some stories stick with you longer than others. First time you get to do a feature. First time you meet a sports legend (it was Allen Iverson for me). Seeing a championship isn’t bad, either. Been there, done that. Lawnmower museum on the east coast of England, tsunami survivors in California, re-connecting Al Geiberger with his lost 59 tape, all good, but no story or environment has stuck with me like going to Attica Correctional Facility in 2013 to tell the story of Valentino Dixon.

    For starters, I’d never been searched before setting up for an interview. Not just me, everyone - all three cameramen, Jimmy Roberts, the guy escorting us in who worked there. Everyone. Attica trusts no one. Can’t blame them after 1971, when inmates protesting living conditions took members of the prison staff hostage. The ensuing police response left 29 inmates and 10 hostages dead.

    Attica has a "shank wall," a collection of homemade weapons seized from inmates and displayed like baseball cards in a plastic case on the wall outside the guards' lunchroom. Prison interior decorating at its finest. Nice touch.

    We went to do a story on an inmate who was introduced to the world in a Golf Digest article by Max Adler in 2012. "The golf artist who had never stepped foot on a golf course - Valentino Dixon.: He was in for murder. Second degree. You know, your standard golf story.


    Wrongfully imprisoned man freed after nearly three decades


    Dixon, a former aspiring artist before getting caught up in the Buffalo drug-dealing scene, started sketching photos from Golf Digest for the warden. I’ve never been to prison, but from what I have gathered from watching The Shawshank Redemption some 8,000 times, getting in the warden’s good graces is a smart habit to pick up if you’re doing serious time.

    Dixon's art was insanely good. Even more so because he did it all with colored pencils. No paintbrushes allowed (see shank wall above). Jimmy, the crew and I stopped for a good 10-15 minutes to marvel at his creations before continuing with the interview.

    We spent a solid 40 minutes talking to the man who supposedly killed a man 20-something years prior. In that time, he pleaded his innocence to us over and over again. He spoke like a man who had rehearsed every angle of his story over and over and over again. I give him credit - there were no holes in his story. I consider myself a pretty good judge of character, and he didn’t look like a killer, didn’t sound like one. either. But what did I know? I’d never met one - that I know of. And if you were stuck in prison for 20-plus years and all of a sudden had a camera in front of you and a platform to plead your innocence, wouldn’t you do your best to try to get out of there?

    Since the guards wouldn’t allow any food, the crew and I stopped at the first deli we saw on the ride back into Buffalo. After we were done eating, we all looked at each other, knowing what we all were thinking: "Do you think he did it?”

    Didn’t matter what we thought, we were just there to tell the story. On Wednesday, however, people whose opinions mattered made a decision and allowed someone who loves the game of golf, but has never stepped foot on a golf course, to do just that if he so chooses. That's a story that will stick with him for the rest of his life.