After Further Review: Match Play continues to deliver

By Jason Sobel, Randall Mell, Rex HoggardFebruary 24, 2014, 1:25 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on the epic WGC-Accenture Match Play final between Jason Day and Victor Dubuisson, other compelling moments including Sergio Garcia's bizarre move to concede an 18-foot putt to Rickie Fowler and what the future of the tournament looks like.

The Match Play Championship's competitive rhythm may typically slow to a seeming crawl on the weekend, with the possibility the game's biggest stars won't even make it to the weekend, but that's OK. There is still more overall drama packed into a week of match play than in most regular PGA Tour events. There are more thrilling winning shots and dispiriting failures.  Heck, on the first day alone, there are 32 winners and 32 losers. That sense of finality lingering over every match is delicious fare.

The Match Play Championship is a refreshing departure from week after week of PGA Tour stroke-play tournaments. It would be a shame if the PGA Tour takes all the fun out of those whirlwind first two days with a switch to stroke-play qualifying. You lose two of the best weekdays in golf doing that. Yes, not every Sunday can be a riveting sudden-death gut wrencher like this year’s Match Play final, but I can live with that, given all the drama this week still unfailingly delivers.  Randall Mell

Something has to give when it comes to the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Jason Day’s second PGA Tour victory and the emergence of France’s Victor Dubuisson aside, the final Match Play at Dove Mountain proved that the circuit needs to overhaul its version of March madness. On Sunday, Tour commissioner Tim Finchem allowed as much, telling reporters that no options regarding future venues, sponsors or formats were off the table. A game changing venue combined with a format adjustment that would assure players of at least two rounds would likely go a long way to making the event a can’t miss stop, both for players and fans.  Rex Hoggard

The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is the game’s most unnecessarily overanalyzed event each year, even before it starts. We can look at match records and recent form and horses for the course, but very little of this previewing matters once it starts. As Simpson once explained, “It’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.” (That would be Homer, not Webb.) Likewise, in the aftermath of the tourney, this analysis often spins forward toward the Ryder Cup. Sorry, but I have a difficult time believing that results in the Arizona desert in February will have any bearing on those seven months later in potentially chilly, soggy Scotland. I stopped counting after hearing and reading a few dozen references of, “If Tom Watson is watching right now…” It’s largely irrelevant for the U.S. captain. In fact, let me finish that sentence: “… he should take it all with a grain of salt, because despite all of the instant (over)analysis, there is no evidence that Match Play results will have any bearing on the Ryder Cup.” - Jason Sobel

We’ll never know whether Sergio Garcia would have conceded the 18-foot putt if he was not in need of a major image rebuild. Or if he was competing in the Ryder Cup, not the thirdround of the Match Play. Or if he was playing against Tiger Woods, not good friend Rickie Fowler. Maybe yes, maybe no. Yes, the move was bizarre – perhaps even foolish – but acknowledge this, too: Sergio’s mind was in the right place. The emotional Spaniard was clearly upset after being wrongly accused of cheating at a European Tour last month, and he said this week that the “world is a little twisted at the moment.” Some view this episode as the latest example that Sergio lacks competitive grit and mental strength. Not me. I see a player who, finally, is showing signs of maturity. Ryan Lavner

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.  

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.