GolfChannel.com begins Round 2 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. Click here for Ultimate Match Play Championship bios:
Match 9: (1) Jack Nicklaus vs. (9) Gary Player
Mell: Nicklaus – The Golden Bear is on a mission to meet Tiger Woods in the final and the Black Knight is in the way.
Sobel: Nicklaus – Watching the Golden Bear take on the Black Knight again is worth the price of admission and while the latter has a few tricks up his sleeve, Jack proves to be too tough in this one.
Hoggard: Nicklaus – The Black Knight, as he did throughout his career against the Golden Bear, will make a game of it, but golf’s greatest player survives with a clutch birdie at the last.
Lavner: Nicklaus – Certainly not the first time these two titans have squared off, and the advantage, as always, goes to Nicklaus, who powers his way to a 3-and-2 victory.
Gray: Nicklaus – Dressed in all black, Player refuses to back down against Nicklaus, a player with whom he has dueled many times before. As was often the case in their era, though, Nicklaus finds a way to win and the Black Knight is conquered.
Match 10: (4) Bobby Jones vs. (5) Sam Snead
Mell: Jones – Gentleman Jones never named a bridge after Snead at Augusta National, but he will use Snead as a bridge into the semifinals.
Sobel: Jones – It was Jones who spearheaded the cause for Snead’s croquet-style putting to be banned. He could have used it in this one, as great ball-striking and poor putting by Snead gives Jones the win.
Hoggard: Jones – Perhaps the greatest match-play player of all time cruises to another “W.” At this rate someone is going to have to show Jones where the 18th hole is located.
Lavner: Snead – Jones may have a certain aptitude for match play, but Snead’s competitiveness will prevail. On his outstanding body of work, Slammin’ Sammy advances in a taut match, 2 up.
Gray: Jones – Brimming with confidence from his first-round win over Casper, Snead takes his foot off the gas a bit in Round 2. That’s all the opening Jones needs, as he easily ousts the all-time wins leader.
Match 11: (3) Ben Hogan vs. (6) Arnold Palmer
Mell: Hogan – Hogan once insulted Palmer, wondering aloud how Palmer got into The Masters, but Palmer gets his respect putting a scare into Hogan before losing in extra holes.
Sobel: Palmer – It’s no secret that Hogan didn’t pay the youngster much attention, only referring to him as “fella.” Well, this fella gets his revenge here, pulling off a pretty monumental upset.
Hoggard: Palmer – The Elite Eight upset special thanks to Palmer’s ability to recover from any wayward shot and compounded by the Hawk’s inability to sink a putt on the poa annua greens.
Lavner: Hogan – The King will get much of the popular vote, per usual, but the proper choice is Hogan, who has both more PGA Tour titles and major championships than Arnie. Hogan wins, 4 and 2.
Gray: Palmer – The King’s ability to escape from various spots on the course frustrates the consistent Hogan, as he is unable to shake Palmer despite holding a significant edge on the stat sheet tee-to-green. The King makes the putts down the back nine to eke out the upset win.
Match 12: (2) Tiger Woods vs. (10) Tom Watson
Mell: Woods – In a battle of Stanford's best, Woods needs all his powers to eliminate Watson in sudden death.
Sobel: Woods – If the current Ryder Cup captain was thinking about sitting Woods for a few matches next year, he may think again after this performance has him cruising into the semifinals.
Hoggard: Woods – Old Tom landed an upset in Round 1, but he’s no match for a man who won a U.S. Open by 15 strokes at Pebble Beach.
Lavner: Woods – This is an icy matchup, to say the least, which is exactly the type of environment in which Tiger thrives. (Stephen Ames, anyone?) Tiger wins easily, 4 and 3.
Gray: Woods – As Watson showed at Turnberry four years ago, he is able to stand toe-to-toe with just about any player in the game. Just as we saw at Turnberry, though, he’s unable to convert the short putts when he needs to, and Woods escapes with a win.