Tiger beats Jack in Ultimate Match Play final

By Randall MellFebruary 19, 2013, 11:00 am

When Jack Nicklaus lashed his opening tee shot in the finals of the Ultimate Match Play Championship, lightning slashed over Pebble Beach Golf Links and thunder cracked across the Monterrey Peninsula.

Even the golf gods appeared to react to the Golden Bear’s perfect little fade into the first fairway in his epic showdown with Tiger Woods.

Woods, though, would bring down more thunder on this remarkable day.

In the end, at the Pebble Beach’s famed 17th hole, the cosmos hushed with Woods and Nicklaus stepping to the tee box. In fading light, the winds there died, the clouds stopped rolling, the surf quieted and even the sea lions stopped barking.

This is where the ultimate match was won.


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Leading 2 up, Woods opened the door for Nicklaus, carving a draw too hard into the wind at the classic back-left pin placement and watching it skip into the heavy rough behind the hole. Nicklaus made the most of the opportunity. With that famous waggle, then a cock of his head before the takeaway, Nicklaus lashed a low, knock-down shot into the wind, a bullet right at the flagstick. His ball, just as it did in the final round here when he won the ’72 U.S. Open, caromed off the flagstick, stopping inches from the cup for a sure birdie.

A colossal roar echoed over Stillwater Cove, but history wasn’t done repeating itself here.

Nicklaus marked his ball, but he wouldn’t get a chance to putt again.

Woods, with a hard, clever swipe of a wedge, popped his ball out of the rough and watched it track straight for the cup. With his ball slowing to a trickle, it appeared to stop on the lip, but only for an agonizing second. The ball had more wobble in it, one more quarter turn that toppled it into the hole.

Woods won in shades of Watson’s chip-in that beat Nicklaus here at the ’82 U.S. Open and in shades of Woods’ chip-in at Augusta National when he won The Masters in ’05 after holing out off 16th green.

Tiger beat the Golden Bear, 2-and-1.

The golf gods let it be known they were watching again.

The cosmos shook when Woods’ last shot disappeared, sending a minor tremor through the ground beneath the feet of all the fortunate patrons who were lucky enough to witness the ultimate showdown between the two greatest players who ever lived.

No matter how you imagined the Ultimate Match Play Championship would unfold, this is the result you wanted.

You wanted Woods winning it all.

Over five weeks, you cast your votes to determine who would win a match-play championship featuring the 16 greatest players who ever lived.

With nearly 22,000 votes cast in the final match alone, Woods claimed 58.1 percent of the vote to Nicklaus’ 41.9 percent.

That feels like a 2-and-1 victory.

Nicklaus advanced to the finals defeating Phil Mickelson with 93 percent of the vote in the first round, beating Gary Player in the quarterfinals with another 93 percent pull and eliminating Bobby Jones in the semifinals with 74.9 percent.

Woods made it to the finals defeating Seve Ballesteros with 79 percent of the vote in the first round, knocking out Tom Watson in the quarterfinals with another 79 percent pull and eliminating Ben Hogan in the semifinals with 64.5 percent.

While Woods had an answer to Nicklaus in our imaginary final of the Ultimate Match Play Championship, we now get to see if he has an answer in the real game, in Woods’ quest to surpass Nicklaus’ record of most professional major championship victories. The question whether Woods or Nicklaus is the greatest who ever played is a good debate even with Woods having 14 majors to Nicklaus’ 18, but if Woods ever passes Nicklaus, then Woods’ answer becomes definitive.

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Descending into golf's depths, and trying to dig out

By Brandel ChambleeApril 23, 2018, 3:05 pm

Watching Alvaro Quiros finish second this past week in Morocco, I was reminded of just how rare it is for player to come back from the depths of golf hell.

Quiros, a player of immense ability, hype and length, won the Dubai World Championship – his sixth win in four years – to close out 2011 and then went down the rabbit hole of trying to change his golf swing. He would miss 11 cuts in 2012 and either miss the cut or withdraw in another 41 European Tour events over the next four years. Because he hadn’t won a major championship, his epic backwards slide in the world rankings (435th prior to this past week) mostly went unnoticed – but it was far from unusual.

Ian Baker-Finch won the 1991 Open Championship, but just three years later, when he played 20 events on the PGA Tour and missed 14 cuts, he no longer looked anything like a recent major champion. In 1995, he played in 18 events and either missed the cut, withdrew or was disqualified from every one of them. In 1996, he missed the cut in all 11 events he entered on the PGA Tour; and in 1997, he shot 92 in the first round of The Open, withdrew from the championship and stopped playing professional golf.

Like Quiros, Baker-Finch’s downfall came after his biggest win, when he finally thought he had the time, because of the 10-year exemption he received, to change his golf swing.

David Duval won the 2001 Open Championship and just two years later he shot 83-78 in the same event and missed the cut, which was one 16 events he either missed the cut or withdrew from that year. In 2005, he missed 18 cuts in 19 starts. Duval’s competitive demise may well have been precipitated by injuries and an existential malaise after winning golf’s oldest championship, but it was accompanied by queries far and wide as to how to correct his swing and thinking, just like Baker-Finch before him and Quiros thereafter.

These desperate searches for help, like the indelible ink stains on dyer’s hands, are the one common thread amongst those who suffer from the absolute negation of their technical and then creative abilities. Those who take as indisputable the theories of others are, in the deepest sense, wounding their own intuition. They are controverting the evidence of their own senses in such a way that is comforting to the insecure player, but tragic to the artist. To quote Carl Jung: “Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.”

As I write this, PGA Tour winners Steven Bowditch (1,885th in the world) and Smylie Kaufman (337th) are in similar downward spirals in their careers and no doubt are desperate for, and susceptible to any suggestion.

One player they can look to who made it back from the frantic madness that accompanies losing one’s game, is Henrik Stenson. He put his trust in one man, Pete Cowen, even though while working with Pete he missed 14 cuts in 2002, followed by 15 missed cuts in 2003, and 11 in 2004. What Stenson did not do was panic and run from teacher to teacher, from shrink to shrink, as the missed cuts piled up.

Stenson, with Cowen’s help, slowly built one of the most reliable swings in the history of the game. A swing that regularly leads events in fairways found and greens hit in regulation. A swing that authored the lowest score ever shot in major championship history. A swing that is a far cry from the OB-launching swipes he was taking in late-2001 and 2002.

Given the soul-eating depths of where he came from, a place from which few have dug themselves out of, I watch Stenson play golf with a far great admiration than I otherwise would, and similarly was pulling for Quiros in Morocco. The same way I am pulling for Bowditch and Kaufman to find their games again.

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Langer skipping Senior PGA for son's HS graduation

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 2:53 pm

Defending champion Bernhard Langer will miss this year’s Senior PGA Championship to attend his son’s high school graduation.

Langer made the announcement Monday, during Senior PGA media day at Harbor Shores in Michigan. The event will be held May 24-27.

“I won’t be able to defend my title this year because my son graduates from high school that very same weekend,” he said. “Family comes first in my life, so I have to be there to celebrate.”

Langer said that his son, Jason, will play golf for the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. Langer and his family live in South Florida.

Langer won last year’s event at Trump National outside Washington, D.C. The 60-year-old has no wins but three runners-up in eight senior starts this season.  

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Landry reaches OWGR career high after Valero win

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 12:40 pm

After notching his first career PGA Tour win at the Valero Texas Open, Andrew Landry also reached unprecedented heights in the latest installment of the Official World Golf Ranking.

Landry shot a final-round 68 at TPC San Antonio to win by two shots, and in the process he cracked the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time at age 30. Landry started the week ranked No. 114, but he's now up to 66th. The move puts him within reach of a possible U.S. Open exemption, given that the top 60 in the May 21 rankings will automatically qualify for Shinnecock Hills.

Trey Mullinax went from No. 306 to No. 169 with his T-2 finish in San Antonio, while fellow runner-up Sean O Hair jumped 29 spots to No. 83 in the world. Jimmy Walker, who finished alone in fourth, went from No. 88 to No. 81 while fifth-place Zach Johnson moved up five spots to No. 53.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Alexander Levy took home the title at the European Tour's Trophee Hassan II, allowing the Frenchman to move from No. 66 to No. 47. With no OWGR points available at this week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Levy is guaranteed to stay inside the top 50 next week, thereby earning a spot in The Players.

Idle since an MDF result at the Houston Open, former world No. 1 Lee Westwood dropped two spots to No. 100 this week. It marks the first time Westwood has been ranked 100th or worse in nearly 15 years, ending a streak of consistency that dates back to September 2003.

The top 10 in the rankings remained the same, with Dustin Johnson leading off at No. 1 followed by Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose. Rickie Fowler remains No. 6 with Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Sergio Garcia rounding out the top 10.

With no starts announced until the U.S. Open in June, Tiger Woods dropped two more spots to No. 91 in the latest rankings.

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What's in the bag: Valero Texas Open winner Landry

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 12:34 pm

Andrew Landry won his first PGA Tour event at the Valero Texas Open. Here's a look inside the winners' bag.

Driver: Ping G30 (9 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 65X shaft

Fairway woods: Ping G (14.5 degrees adjusted to 15.5), with Project X HZRDUS Yellow 75X shaft; (17.5 degrees), with Project X HZRDUS Yellow 85X shaft

Irons: Ping iBlade (3-PW), with Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 105 S shafts

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (52, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts

Putter: Ping PLD ZB-S

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x