Ultimate Match Play Championship semifinal predictions

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 5, 2013, 2:20 pm

GolfChannel.com begins the semifinals 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 second-round predictions. Also, check out GolfChannel.com's Bracket Challenge for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Match 13: (1) Jack Nicklaus vs. (4) Bobby Jones

Mell: Nicklaus – After losing to Nicklaus at the 44th hole in sudden death, Jones says: “He does, indeed, play a game with which I’m not familiar.”

Sobel: Nicklaus – Pushed to the limit by the amateur, Nicklaus reaches the par-5 final hole in two, then makes his 30-foot eagle putt for the win, holding the putter aloft like that iconic image from the 1986 Masters.

Hoggard: Nicklaus – Jones may be one of the game’s best match-play players and the semifinal match is destined for extra holes, but the game’s greatest weathers the challenge and advances to the final frame.

Lavner: Nicklaus – Jack hasn’t been threatened yet in this competition, earning 92 percent of the vote in each of his first two matchups. There is no reason to see that ending here either, despite Jones’ match-play prowess. Nicklaus wins, 4 and 3.

Gray: Nicklaus – With impeccable ball-striking and clutch putting throughout the match, Nicklaus stays slightly ahead as the pair hit the heart of the back nine. With Jones threatening a comeback, the Golden Bear pulls off a long-iron approach similar to his 1-iron at Pebble Beach in 1972. As the shot barely leaves the pin before settling a few feet away, Jones’ hopes are all but extinguished as Nicklaus goes on to a 3-and-2 win.

Match 14: (2) Tiger Woods vs. (3) Ben Hogan

Mell: Woods – After watching Hogan knock down one flagstick after another but fail to convert enough birdie attempts, Woods’ putter is the difference at the 51st hole in sudden death.

Sobel: Woods – A true contrast in styles, as Hogan hits fairway and green after fairway and green, while the wild Woods sprays it around, but gets up and down from everywhere. In the end, it's the latter strategy that wins out, as Tiger takes it thanks to his short game.

Hoggard: Woods – In what may be the quietest match of the championship, the famously aloof Hogan builds an early lead, but Woods rallies for a late victory on Pebble Beach’s iconic 18th hole. 

Lavner: Woods – Tiger has the advantage in most every important category against the Hawk, including more PGA Tour titles, more majors and the more impressive Slam. When comparing these two players at the height of their powers, which is our task, then Tiger wins, 3 and 1.

Gray: Woods – Perhaps of all the players in the field, Hogan is least likely to back down to Woods as so many have done over the years. As 18 holes are not enough to decide a winner, the match heads to sudden death and the advantage appears with Hogan as he finds the green on the 19th hole while Woods goes long and left. As he has often done, though, Woods not only gets out of trouble – he holes the difficult pitch. Somewhat stunned, Hogan is unable to match the birdie as Woods wins, 1-up.

Watch: Koepka holes out from off the green at 16

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 5:36 am

Brooks Koepka faced a stiff challenge from Gary Woodland on Sunday in South Korea, but eventually it came time to end the suspense.

Having clung to a slim lead for much of the back nine, Koepka looked as though he was going to have to scramble just to save par when he missed the green at 16. 

Instead, caddie Ricky Elliott was able to leave Koepka's putter in the bag.

That holeout combined with a bogey from Woodland at 17 put Koepka ahead by three, allowing him to walk to victory and to the top of the world rankings.

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Koepka wins CJ Cup, ascends to world No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 5:07 am

Brooks Koepka eagled the 72nd hole Sunday to cap off a final-round 64, win the CJ Cup and supplant Dustin Johnson as the new No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here's how Koepka took over the golf world Sunday in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-21), Gary Woodland (-17), Ryan Palmer (-15), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-15), Jason Day (-12), Scott Piercy (-12)

What it means: This is Koepka's fifth career PGA Tour victory but only his second in a non-major, following his maiden win back at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Up four to start the day, Koepka saw his lead evaporate as Woodland rocketed up the leaderboard and kept pace with him for much of the back nine. But every time Sunday's result appeared in doubt, Koepka reclaimed his lead in dramatic fashion. He nearly aced the par-3 13th to go ahead by two and later holed out for birdie at the par-4 16th to go up three with two to play. He finished par-eagle at 17 and 18 to shoot a back-nine 29 and close out his third victory in the last five months. With the win, Koepka ascends to the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.

Round of the day: Ryan Palmer set a Nine Bridges course record when he birdied his final seven holes in a row en route to a bogey-free round of 10-under 62 and a solo third-place finish.

Best of the rest: Woodland played his first 16 holes in 9 under par to storm from five back and catch Koepka atop the leaderboard. But his furious Sunday charge finally came to an end when he failed to get up and down for par from the back bunker at 17. He carded his 11th birdie of the round at the 18th hole to sign for 63 and finish solo second.

Biggest disappointment: In retrospect, Woodland called it correctly on Saturday when he said: "You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can. You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number." Woodland put as much pressure on Koepka as he could. He went out and posted that number. Koepka never blinked.

Shot of the day: Koepka's holeout at the par-3 16th, which put him ahead by three, unofficially ending the proceedings:

Quote of the day: "To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid. I don't think this one is going to sink in." - Koepka

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Watch: Koepka nearly aces par-3 13th Sunday

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 4:24 am

Just when it looked like he was facing a legitimate challenge Sunday, Brooks Koepka responded with a near-ace.

Up four to start the final round, Koepka saw his lead disappear as Gary Woodland raced up the leaderboard to tie him at 13 under and then 14 under.

Unfazed, the three-time major winner birdied the par-5 12th to regain his outright lead and then followed up with this tee shot at the 218-yard, par-3 13th.

And just like that, the tap-in birdie put Koepka back ahead by two with five to play.

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Haas nearly shoots age in taking Champions playoff opener lead

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 10:05 pm

RICHMOND, Va.  -- Jay Haas shot a 7-under 65 - missing his age by a stroke - to take a two-shot lead Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Trying to become the oldest winner in tour history, the 64-year-old Haas birdied the par-5 16th and 18th holes to get to 11-under 133 on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''I've been out here too long to know that I can learn to expect anything,'' Haas said. ''While I'm hopeful every day and I've been playing OK, the last couple weeks have not been very good, but this week has been much better. I love this golf course and it looks good to my eye. Most of the holes look like I'm going to hit a good shot, so I enjoy playing here.''

Mike Fetchick set the age record of 63 years to the day in the 1985 Hilton Head event. Haas is second on the list, taking the 2016 Toshiba Classic at 62 years, 10 months, 7 days for his 18th senior title.

''That's a good way to say I'm old, 'experience,''' Haas said. ''I think I'm very nervous most of the time when I play and today was no exception, but I continued to hit good shots and, hopefully, I can put one foot in front of the other, one shot at a time, do what I tell my son to do every time, you know? See if I can put some of those adages to work tomorrow.''

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

Stephen Ames and Scott Dunlap were tied for second after the round that started in light rain. Ames had a 67, and Dunlap shot 68.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer had a 66 to join Billy Mayfair (67) and Woody Austin (68) at 9 under. Langer won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the season points lead. The 61-year-old German star has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, was tied for 23rd at 4 under after a 71.