Ultimate Match Play Championship Round 1 predictions

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2013, 12:30 pm

GolfChannel.com kicks off Round 1 of its Ultimate Match Play Championship this week, where you get to vote on who is the greatest of the greats. Our writers weigh in with their opening-round predictions. Click here for Ultimate Match Play Championship bios:


Match 1: (1) Jack Nicklaus vs. (16) Phil Mickelson

Mell: Nicklaus – Lefty will impress Jack with some abracadabra around the greens, but there’s no stopping the Golden Bear on his fantasy collision course with Tiger Woods.

Sobel: Nicklaus – Much like at an NCAA hoops opening-round game, the fans may be clamoring for the 16 seed to pull off the impossible. And much like one of those games, it won’t happen, as the top seed advances here.

Hoggard: Nicklaus – The game’s best short game is no match for the best player of all time, but it will be a close match that probably comes down to a wayward drive or misplayed recovery shot on the last hole for Lefty.

Lavner: Nicklaus – The greatest of all-time versus one of the greatest escape artists in the game’s rich history? Always take the former, especially when it’s a bulldog like Jack. Nicklaus wins, 3 and 2.

Gray: Nicklaus – The Golden Bear will be eager to assert – and reinforce – his position at the top of the bracket, and Lefty will have one errant drive too many.


Match 2: (2) Tiger Woods vs. (15) Seve Ballesteros

Mell: Woods – Tiger and Seve make this match look like Houdini vs. Harry Blackstone with their shot-making sorcery, but Woods pulls the win out of his deeper bag of tricks.

Sobel: Woods – The most intriguing matchup of the first round. Tiger has been known to get thrown off by a camera click; how will he deal with coins jangling in the opponent’s pocket? Seve takes him the distance, but expect Woods to survive and advance.

Hoggard: Woods – Seve gets up and down from 17 Mile Drive, from behind the lone cypress tree and a car park adjacent the Lodge, but it’s not enough to beat Woods at Pebble Beach, where he once won a U.S. Open by 15 strokes.

Lavner: Woods – Seve would bring his best gamesmanship for this duel, but Woods at his best dispatches the feisty Spaniard easily, 5 and 4.

Gray: Woods – Perhaps no match would feature two more fiery stares, but the edge goes to Woods, one of few players who can go toe-to-toe with Ballesteros in the scrambling department.


Match 3: (3) Ben Hogan vs. (14) Nick Faldo

Mell: Hogan – Faldo met and admired Hogan, but the Wee Ice Mon freezes out Faldo in first-round triumph.

Sobel: Hogan – Two words: 'Hello. Thanks.' That’s what each man will say to the other – one on the first tee, the other on the final green. In between, the the Hawk will be too much for Nasty Nick to handle; though, he may see some of himself in the youngster.

Hoggard: Hogan – Not a word is spoken between the two and the Hawk rifles his way to an easy Round 1 victory via a ball-striking clinic.

Lavner: Hogan – If Hogan is at the peak of his powers – in 1953, when he won three majors in what became known as the “Hogan Slam” – then even a former world No. 1 such as Faldo will fall short, 4 and 2.

Gray: Hogan – This match may not feature a missed fairway or green, but the battle of ball-strikers goes to the more seasoned veteran.


Match 4: (4) Bobby Jones vs. (13) Lee Trevino

Mell: Jones – The Merry Mex gives Jones the fight of his life, but Jones won’t let Trevino play giant killer this time.

Sobel: Jones – Jones co-founded Augusta National. Trevino abhorred it so much that he changed his shoes in the parking lot. This is your classic rivalry game, which means anything can happen, but expect Jones to pull it out in the end.

Hoggard: Jones – Legendary golf scribe O.B. Keeler will later call this match the “clash of the sneer and the smile,” but Jones gets the last laugh with a handy victory.

Lavner: Jones – Jones was one of the best amateurs the game has ever seen, winning six U.S. Amateurs during his abbreviated career, which is precisely the kind of match-play prowess that will overwhelm the “Merry Mex.” Jones wins, 5 and 4.

Gray: Jones – Unaffected by Trevino’s showmanship, Jones quietly goes about his game – one that turns out to be just as effective as it was in 1930.


Match 5: (5) Sam Snead vs. (12) Billy Casper

Mell: Snead – The sweet-swinging Snead has to knock some flagsticks down to hold off Casper and his magic putting stroke.

Sobel: Snead – The man atop the PGA Tour wins list faces off against perhaps the most underrated man in this entire tournament. This one comes down to a putting contest, as Snead goes side-saddle on the back nine to claim the victory.

Hoggard: Snead – The man who won 82 PGA Tour titles cruises to a first-round victory over Casper, who managed to win just 51 times in his prolific career. 

Lavner: Snead – Sweet-swinging Sammy was a prolific winner in his day, but even he would receive a stern test from one of the game’s most underrated players. Snead, though, squeaks out a close one, 2 up.

Gray: Casper – One of the most underrated players of all time strikes again, as Casper rallies to defeat Snead, who is undone by a balky putter.


Match 6: (6) Arnold Palmer vs. (11) Gene Sarazen

Mell: Palmer – With his blacksmith’s slash, Palmer survives yet another Sarazen double eagle to advance.

Sobel: Palmer – Expect the man known as The King to employ his usual aggressive style to victory – and don’t be surprised if he pulls off an upset or two in this tourney down the road.

Hoggard: Sarazen – The Squire secures the opening round’s upset special when he holes out a 4-wood for a double eagle at Pebble’s iconic closing hole.

Lavner: Palmer – In match play it’s all about momentum, and with the King’s record of seven majors and 62 PGA Tour wins, and the support of Arnie’s Army behind him, Palmer steamrolls to a 4-and-3 victory.

Gray: Palmer – Palmer’s advantage off the tee consistently gives him the upper hand, and he holes a few more birdies than Sarazen as a result.


Match 7: (7) Byron Nelson vs. (10) Tom Watson

Mell: Nelson – The master schools a favorite student in a classic matchup.

Sobel: Nelson – This will be as gentlemanly a match as we’ll ever see, as mentor and mentee square off less as rivals than friends. Watson used to visit Nelson’s ranch and has always had great admiration for him. A conceded 3-foot putt on the last will give Lord Byron the win.

Hoggard: Watson – Watson chips in from the rough behind the 17th hole for birdie to clip Lord Byron on a cold, windswept day that felt more like a British Open.

Lavner: Watson – Iron Byron won a remarkable 11 tournaments in a row in 1945, but one of the favorites has to lose sometime. Might as well be to Watson, who puts on a punishing ball-striking clinic to steal a 2-and-1 victory.

Gray: Watson – Watson’s timeless swing continues to pay dividends, as he rekindles images of the “Duel in the Sun” to edge out Lord Byron.


Match 8: (8) Walter Hagen vs. (9) Gary Player

Mell: Hagen  – Hagen lives up to his reputation, barely making his tee time, but in the end he’s still the toast of the town.

Sobel: Player – As Hagen hops out of his limo a minute before their tee time, Player will have already knocked out 1,000 sit-ups while waiting. Give me the guy who wants it more, as Player advances in the only first-round “upset” in the tournament.

Hoggard: Player – The Haig arrives 10 minutes before his tee time in a limousine, but it’s the Black Knight who scores the victory and celebrates his triumph by performing 200 sit ups on the 18th green.

Lavner: Hagen – No player has the stamina to hang with Hagen quite like Player, but it’s hard to dismiss Hagen’s match-play record in the 1920s. Hagen wins, 3 and 1.

Gray: Hagen – Though Player’s effort remains relentless, Hagen is able to show just why he is known as the best match-player of all time.

Getty Images

Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

Getty Images

Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

Getty Images

Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”