Skins Game Not What it Used To Be
We'll find out a lot this weekend as defending champion Fred Couples, Sergio Garcia, Vijay Singh and Colin Montgomerie compete in the 18th annual Skins Game at the Landmark Golf Club in Indian Wells, Calif.
Couples is the official king of the second (or silly) season. He's earned that title primarily from his performances at past Skins Games. This will be Couples' eighth Skins start. He's played in every competition since 1992, save for '97. In that time span, Couples has won 52 skins, nearly twice as many as Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Fuzzy Zoeller, who are tied for second on that list with 27. Couples has also won $1,975,000 in earnings, over $1 million more than Mark O'Meara, who ranks second.
This will be the first Skins appearance for both Montgomerie and Singh, who lost in a playoff to Tiger Woods Wednesday at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii. Garcia made his debut last year, earning a pair of skins and $120,000.
The Skins Game was established in 1983, with Nicklaus, Watson, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player participating. The event has long thrived on big-money putts and radiant personalities. Both will be put to the test this week.
Garcia is among the PGA Tour leaders in charisma. Couples is one of the biggest fan favorites in golf history. But Montgomerie and Singh, despite their immense talents, are far removed from either category.
This year, $1 million is up for grabs. The first six holes are worth $25,000 each; Nos. 7-12 are worth $50,000; Nos. 13-17 are worth $70,000; and No. 18 is worth $200,000. If the final hole is not won, a playoff will commence until someone cleans the pot.
Couples set a Skins Game record with $635,000 in winnings a year ago. The bulk of that came from a 12-foot birdie putt at the 18th worth $410,000.
Remember when that used to seem like a lot of money to a professional golfer?
With the ever-increasing purses around the world, $1 million seems more like a winner's check than the total purse.
Talented players lacking an over-abundance of personality. Big putts lacking monetary shock value. The Skins Game isn't what it used to be. What happens this weekend could go a long way in determining what it will become.
Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head
But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.
One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.
It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.
And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.
Hey, whatever works.
Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'
AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.
Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.
The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.
“I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”
Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.
“I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”
Curry jokes about Romo's 77: 'Got him by a stroke'
This just in ... professional athletes are competitive. Even when they're playing their secondary sport.
Playing in the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship on a sponsor exemption Thursday, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo started hot with an even-par 36 on his opening nine holes, but faded down the stretch to open with a 5-over 77.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Ron Kroichick, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry couldn't help but crack a smile when informed of the score, saying, "I got him by a stroke."
Just told @StephenCurry30 that Tony Romo finished 5-over in PGA Tour event in Dominican Republic. Curry smiled and said, "I got him by a stroke." He shot 4-over (twice) in https://t.co/gZ56s2K2Mk start last August.— Ron Kroichick (@ronkroichick) March 22, 2018
Curry was referencing his brief foray into pro golf last August, when he shot back-to-back 4-over 74s at the Web.com's Ellie Mae Classic.
So just in case Romo needed another reason to go low tomorrow when he tees off at 1 p.m. in the second round, he's got one.
Group standings at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
Here are the group standings for pool play at the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas. The player with the most points in each pool advanced to Saturday's Round of 16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for scoring and click here for the bracket.
|Group 1||Group 2||Group 3||Group 4|
|(1) D. Johnson: 0-2-0||(2) J. Thomas: 1-0-0||(3) J. Rahm: 0-1-1||(4) J. Spieth: 2-0-0|
|(32) K. Kisner: 0-0-1||(21) F. Molinari: 1-0-0||(28) K. Aphibarnrat: 1-0-0||(19) P. Reed: 2-0-0|
|(38) A. Hadwin: 1-0-1
||(48) P. Kizzire: 0-1-0||(43) C. Reavie: 1-1-0||(34) H. Li: 0-2-0|
|(52) B. Wiesberger: 1-0-0
||(60) L. List: 0-1-0||(63) K. Bradley: 0-0-1||(49) C. Schwartzel: 0-2-0|
|Group 5||Group 6||Group 7||Group 8|
|(5) H. Matsuyama: 1-0-0||(6) R. McIlroy: 1-1-0||(7) S. Garcia: 1-0-0||(8) J. Day: 1-0-0|
|(30) P. Cantlay: 0-1-0
||(18) B. Harman: 0-0-1||(20) X. Schauffele: 1-0-0||(25) L. Oosthuizen: 1-0-0|
|(46) C. Smith: 1-0-0||(44) J. Vegas: 0-1-1||(41) D. Frittelli: 0-1-0||(42) J. Dufner: 0-1-0|
|(53) Y. Miyazato: 0-1-0||(51) P. Uihlein: 1-0-0||(62) S. Sharma: 0-1-0||(56) J. Hahn: 0-1-0|
|Group 9||Group 10||Group 11||Group 12|
|(9) T. Fleetwood: 1-1-0||(10) P. Casey: 2-0-0||(11) M. Leishman: 0-2-0||(12) T. Hatton: 1-0-0|
|(26) D. Berger: 0-2-0||(31) M. Fitzpatrick: 0-1-0||(23) B. Grace: 1-1-0||(22) C. Hoffman: 0-1-0|
|(33) K. Chappell: 1-1-0||(45) K. Stanley: 1-1-0||(35) B. Watson: 2-0-0||(36) B. Steele: 1-0-0|
|(58) I. Poulter: 2-0-0||(51) R. Henley: 0-1-0||(64) J. Suri: 1-1-0||(55) A. Levy: 0-1-0|
|Group 13||Group 14||Group 15||Group 16|
|(13) A. Noren: 2-0-0||(14) P. Mickelson: 1-1-0||(15) P. Perez: 0-0-1||(16) M. Kuchar: 1-0-1|
|(29) T. Finau: 2-0-0||(17) R. Cabrera Bello: 1-1-0||(24) G. Woodland: 0-0-1||(27) R. Fisher: 1-1-0|
|(39) T. Pieters: 0-2-0||(40) S. Kodaira: 0-2-0||(37) W. Simpson: 0-0-1||(47) Y. Ikeda: 1-1-0|
|(61) K. Na: 0-2-0||(59) C. Howell III: 2-0-0||(50) S.W. Kim: 0-0-1||(54) Z. Johnson: 0-1-1|