New Match Play format, but familiar results

By Rex HoggardApril 30, 2015, 2:26 am

SAN FRANCISCO – The new-look WGC-Cadillac Match Play clung to an old modus operandi on Wednesday.

For all the tinkering – new format, new venue, new sponsor – the basic blueprint was unchanged on Day 1, which is to say the status quo remains irrelevant at the PGA Tour’s only individual match-play outing.

Put another way, betting chalk at the Match Play can be costly.

Consider that seven of the day’s first nine matches went to the lower-ranked player and that when the final putt dropped past 10 p.m. on the East Coast things had only gotten slightly better for the favored, with 13 of 32 matches going to the lower seed on Day 1.

It’s always been the axiom at the Match Play, which defies the pathological desire in sports to clearly define favorite and underdog. This, however, is no NCAA tournament, where Cinderella stories are the stock in trade.

In golf, parity isn’t measured by ranking points, not when it comes to the big league’s only head-to-head tilt.

WGC-Cadillac Match Play: Articles, videos and photos

The best example of this came when Henrik Stenson became the highest-ranked player (No. 3) to drop his Day 1 match, a 19-hole bout that went to John Senden; while No. 67 Ben Martin, the lowest-ranked player in the field, edged Matt Kuchar, 1 up, thanks to a timely hole-in-one at the 17th hole.

“When you’re playing the best 64 players in the world it’s not like you’ll have an easy match,” Martin said.

Even Jason Day, No. 7 in the world and this week’s defending champion, wasn’t immune to match play’s capricious ways, dropping his opening game to No. 50 Charley Hoffman, 4 and 3.

“There were a ton of upsets already from what I’ve seen,” Day said. “Again, no one’s a favorite here in formats like this. You really have to go out and win that match and try and get through to the next round. There’s obviously favorites, but you have to be cautious about it.”

What was supposed to be different this year was the urgency that comes with the old one-and-done format previously used at the World Golf Championship.

Officials changed the format this year to allow for three days of round-robin play, similar to the World Cup, which would assure at least three days of play for all 64.

But as players began doing the math and figuring the various permutations, the liberation of round-robin play began to clear like the marine layer that blanketed Harding Park earlier this week.

Etched into the faces of many of those who ended up on the wrong side of the win/loss column on Wednesday was a much different reality. Although they weren’t packing for a flight out of town, as has been the case for the last 16 years, first-round losers now face two days of diminishing returns.

Consider Justin Rose’s plight. The Englishman dropped a 3-and-2 decision to Marc Leishman on Wednesday and will likely need to win his next two group matches – on Thursday he plays Anirban Lahiri, who won, and Ryan Palmer, who lost to Lahiri, on Day 3 – and will need some help from Leishman if he’s going to make it to Saturday’s Sweet 16.

“You're definitely swimming upstream if you lose that first match,” said Rory McIlroy, who easily defeated Jason Dufner, 5 and 4. “You lose that first one, and it is tough because all of a sudden you're not in control of your own destiny. You're looking at the other guys in your pool and seeing what they're doing, and you're not fully focused on yourself.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Friday’s round will be perfunctory. McIlroy’s victory combined with Billy Horschel’s 5-and-4 triumph over Brandt Snedeker sets the stage for a potential Day 3 showdown between the world No. 1 and the reigning FedEx Cup champion. If both players make it to Friday undefeated it would be a compelling match to decide who advances.

But then it seems just as likely that there will be more than a few players who will have already booked a tee time on Saturday at Harding Park before Day 3 play begins.

Martin, for instance, on Thursday will play Hunter Mahan, who easily beat Stephen Gallacher (7 and 6). If Martin, who would be the NCAA equivalent of Weber State in this tournament, beats Mahan he’s assured a spot in the Sweet 16, making Friday’s match a glorified practice round.

But as this tournament proves on an annual basis there are no upsets in professional golf at this level, regardless of the name on the standard or his status in the world ranking.

The new lesson on Wednesday that players and fans were quickly learning was that round-robin play is not the forgiving mulligan many may have thought.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 21, 2018, 2:15 pm

Tiger Woods, in search of his 15th career major championship title, started the weekend six off the lead at Carnoustie. We're tracking him in Round 3 of The Open.

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Rose's Saturday 64 matches Carnoustie Open record

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 1:03 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose needed to sink a 14-foot putt on the final hole Friday just to make the cut on the number at The Open.

Freewheeling when he came to the course Saturday, Rose tied the lowest score ever recorded in an Open at Carnoustie.

Entering the weekend nine shots off the lead, the world No. 3 carded a bogey-free, 7-under 64 to at least make things interesting. It won’t be known for several hours how many shots Rose will be behind, but his back-nine 30 gives him an opportunity, if the wind blows 25 mph Sunday as forecast, to challenge the leaders.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

After all, Paul Lawrie was 10 shots back entering the final round here in 1999.

“I think the birdie on 18 last night freed me up, and I’m just very happy to be out on this golf course and not down the road somewhere else this morning,” said Rose, who is at 4-under 209. “So that might have been part of the shift in mindset today. I had nothing to lose from that point of view.”

Rose’s 64 matched Steve Stricker and Richard Green’s record score at Carnoustie (2007).

It also was Rose’s career-low round in a major.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 12:20 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)

4:30-7AM (Watch): Sunny skies and birdies were on the menu early in Round 3, as Justin Rose made his way around Carnoustie in 64 strokes. Click here or on the image below to watch.

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 8:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (