Woods' Match Play record defies convention

By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2013, 10:38 pm

MARANA, Ariz. – All together now – 18-holes of match play is the competitive equivalent of a scratch-off lottery ticket.

Each year we hear the same lament, a solid round can be spoiled by an opponent with a red-hot putter just as easily as a pedestrian display can be salvaged by an off-form adversary.

The contrast of match play is such that upsets – large and small – neither surprise nor circumvent the competitive integrity of the event. Consider that last year’s opening round featured 15 upsets and in 2011 there were 14 lower-seeded players who survived Round 1. Neither of those marks, by the by, come close to the all-time number of Round 1 stunners set in 1999 (18).


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In short, betting chalk at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is an occupational hazard.

For the better part of a decade, however, Tiger Woods has largely defied conventional wisdom, which may explain his Tuesday body language that featured neither angst nor apprehension.

If Woods was thinking short term on Tuesday at Dove Mountain he wasn’t letting on. “The only reason I enter events is to win,” he said. “It's not to make the cut or finish top 10 or even second. It's to win the event. There's really no reason to enter if you don't have the mindset or belief that you can win, and I feel like I can win every time I play.”

If the statistical reality of that comment doesn’t add up consider Woods’ record at golf’s version of March Madness pre-2009. In nine starts he has been bounced in Round 1 just once, in 2002, and has advanced past Day 2 on all but two occasions.

The capriciousness of match play aside, Woods still managed to win three of those nine outings. Of course, that was before his professional and personal fortunes took a wrong turn in late 2009. In his last three Match Play starts Woods hasn’t made it to Friday.

Yet there he was on a windblown stage on Tuesday, smiling for cameras and telling tales of his round with President Barack Obama on Sunday in south Florida.

“We won,” he beamed when asked about his four-ball match paired with the commander and chief.

And why shouldn’t Red Shirt view this week’s collection of title bouts with optimism?

He’s fresh off his seventh victory at the Farmers Insurance Open last month, (Note to WGC-Match Play organizers: if you want to improve Woods’ odds of advancing to Sunday’s final move the event to Torrey Pines) and is downright smitten with his new and improved short game.

It’s why this week’s Match Play is a curious litmus test for the world No. 2. Sure, he could be sent packing on Wednesday by Charles Howell III and the world would keep spinning, but for Woods all the things that make the WGC so confounding could only add to his budding confidence with a few solid matches.

His affinity for match play is evident. He referenced his victories at his three U.S. Junior and three U.S. Amateur triumphs when asked for his match play highlights on Tuesday.

“I was down in the final all three (U.S. Juniors) and all three (U.S. Amateurs) and came back and won all six of them. It's something I'm pretty proud of,” Woods said. “They're all different in their own way, but the fact that I came back in each one is something that has certainly given me a lot of confidence going forward and when I turned pro.”

Confidence. Some would argue it’s been the missing ingredient the last few seasons as Woods transitioned through a swing change and various injuries.

As a sports psychologist once explained to your scribe the Match Play is a collection of Sundays, each match bringing with it unique challenges normally only found late in final rounds.

For Woods, his Match Play performance in recent years has been a microcosm of the larger picture – getting better but not grooved enough to hold up when success or failure is so absolute.

“I don't have to worry about 155 other guys, it's just one guy in front of me,” said Woods, who has never won the Match Play on the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. “It's a lot of fun because we don't get a chance to do this very often, and usually it takes three days, sometimes three and a half days to come to a situation where it's one on one (at a stroke-play event). In general it's not the same group, (at the Match Play) we’re going at each other and we know exactly what they're doing.”

Stewart Cink was the last player to drop a championship match to Woods at the 2008 Match Play, a performance Cink dubbed a “defensive masterpiece.” Since then Woods has lost to Tim Clark (2009), Thomas Bjorn (2010) and Nick Watney (2012).

If that’s not exactly the all-star collection of would-be world beaters one would expect to find the explanation is simple – match play. It’s also why this Match Play could offer an interesting glimpse into Woods’ competitive future.

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Lauren Thompson and a giant 'gator eating a turtle

By Grill Room TeamApril 19, 2018, 4:53 pm

Really, the headline says it all.

"Morning Drive" co-host Lauren Thompson was playing the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes on Thursday in Orlando, Fla., when her threesome turned into a foursome, with the appearance of a giant alligator. Techincally, it was a fivesome, as the 'gator had a turtle in its mouth.



Hey, it's a slow news week for Grill Room.

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Sources confirm Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Rex HoggardApril 19, 2018, 2:42 pm

Multiple sources have confirmed to GolfChannel.com that officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation.

Tournament officials scrambled this year after Dean & DeLuca ended its sponsorship of the event just two years into a six-year agreement, pulling together an assortment of local sponsors and renaming the event the Fort Worth Invitational.

Colonial’s status on the PGA Tour schedule became even more uncertain when the PGA Championship announced it would move from August to May, beginning in 2019 as part of a major overhaul of the circuit’s schedule.

According to the Dallas News, and confirmed by multiple sources at the club, officials plan to announce the new long-term agreement with Charles Schwab on Monday that will begin in 2019.

News of a long-term sponsorship deal would also suggest the event will remain in May in 2019 and beyond. The Tour has indicated it plans to announce the ’19 schedule at next month’s Players Championship.

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PNC Extends Title Sponsorship of PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 19, 2018, 1:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2018 – IMG and NBC Sports today announced that The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has extended its contract as title sponsor of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, the tournament that pairs the games’ legends alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

PNC’s multi-year extension as title sponsor keeps the PGA Tour Challenge Event in Orlando reflecting the bank’s commitment to Central Florida. PNC has served as title sponsor of the tournament since 2012. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes will continue to play host to the PNC Father/Son Challenge. The 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 14-16, with television coverage on Golf Channel and NBC.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge long ago became one of my family’s favorite golf tournaments,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. “I have had the pleasure of playing with my sons, and last year, partnering with my 15-year-old grandson GT was a thrill. I am delighted the event—a uniquely special one to us fathers and grandfathers, and perhaps to the many fans out there watching from home or outside the ropes—will continue for many years to come.”

“After our victory in 2016, I said that this win was as good as anything I have done in my career,” said former World No. 1 and major champion David Duval, who alongside his stepson Nick Karavites captured the 2016 title. “I felt blessed to have Nick inside the ropes with me and to have our family surrounding us all week. That’s what makes the PNC Father/Son Challenge so special, and I’m pleased to hear that PNC has extended its support of the event. This golf tournament means so much to all of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in this event.”

The tournament also holds three events in qualifier markets per year. This year they will be in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge allows fans to see golf’s legends playing the game they love alongside those they love most,” said Alastair Johnston, vice chairman, IMG. “We are grateful for PNC’s ongoing support of this unique tournament and we look forward to returning to Orlando to celebrate golf and family for many years to come.”

Community support is a key aspect of the tournament and PNC’s sponsorship. PNC is committed to donating $150,000 annually to local non-profits over the life of its sponsorship. Across six previous years of title sponsorship, PNC has already donated $900,000 to Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to support the “Healthy Families Orange” program. Over the years, PNC has also had the opportunity through this tournament to co-host events for local women in business, to put on clinics and provide free access to the tournament for active military, and even provide a service dog for a local veteran.

"PNC's long-standing sponsorship of the Father/Son Challenge reflects the philanthropic values we share with the PGA Tour and the golf community, as well as our focus on strong relationships,” said Bill Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. “As PNC Bank continues to expand its footprint, the PNC Father/Son tournament helps us gain visibility with new audiences and to strengthen the relationships we enjoy today with more than 8 million retail, wealth, and corporate and institutional banking customers across the country.”

“NBC Sports is extremely proud of our heritage as co-founder for the Father/Son Challenge, one of golf’s most special events that closes out the calendar year on the golf schedule,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports. “Our relationship with PNC Bank elevates this event each year as a must-attend and must-see event for players and fans alike, and we look forward to our continued relationship with PNC Bank for years to come.”

Past winners of the PNC Father/Son Challenge include some of the biggest names in golf including Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), Jack Nicklaus (1999), Bernhard Langer (2005-06, 2014), Davis Love III (2012) and David Duval (2016).  Masters champion Angel Cabrera and his son, Angel Cabrera Jr. captured the 2017 title.

To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS Championship in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters, grandsons and one father – Justin Leonard’s dad, Larry – participate over the years.

The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.

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Fire damages National Golf Links of America clubhouse

By Will GrayApril 19, 2018, 12:55 pm

A fire broke out Wednesday at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., causing "extensive damage" to a portion of the historic course's clubhouse.

According to a 27East.com report, an initial call was made to the Southampton police department about a fire on the roof of the clubhouse at 11:34 a.m. With the club's gates too narrow to fit a fire truck through, more than 100 firefighters from various departments helped douse the flames by transporting water up a hill to the east side of the clubhouse.

The fire was reportedly extinguished by 2:30 p.m., with no injuries requiring medical attention. According to a Golf Digest report, the club was undergoing construction on its outdoor eating area known as "the Birdcage" and that most of the club's historical documents reside on the opposite end of the clubhouse from where the fire broke out and was contained.

Opened in 1911, National Golf Links of America was designed by C.B. MacDonald and hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. The biennial matches returned in 2013 to NGLA, which is often rated among the top courses in the U.S. and sits adjacent to Shinnecock Hills, site of this summer's U.S. Open.