No Tiger, and No Rory
With snowfall no longer a factor, play began yesterday in the Accenture Match Play tournament in Arizona, just outside of Tucson. It was still cold in the desert, but that in no way explains the way the day ended. Dustin Johnson lost to Alexander Noren 6 and 4, but that was not the only upset. 44% of the ‘underdogs’ moved on to the second round, and 50% of the top seeded players in each division lost, including Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy.
When Tiger won at Torrey Pines a few weeks ago, we saw flashes of the “old Tiger”. He gave us all reason to think he could be the dominant player in the PGA this season. We’re not so sure now.
In San Diego his iron play was magnificent. He pitched most of his shots close enough to the pin to give him birdie opportunities, and some times merely tap ins. Yesterday he was unable drive, pitch, or putt. He was all over the course
He was playing against Charles Howell III, a close friend from the time they were both amateurs. Before they teed off, Howell was asked if he had ever beaten Tiger. His response was a smile, and a simple “no”. That’s all changed now.
Rory was outplayed by Shane Lowry. McIlroy’s play was not dissimilar to Tiger’s. Rory failed to make the cut in his final tournament of last season. He appears to have lost confidence in what was a perfect swing
Match play for those of you non-golf enthusiasts is just what the word means. Matched in pairs, the golfers need to win as many holes as possible. The score doesn’t count, the greatest number of holes won does count. Seldom do the players reach the 18th tee. For example, if a pair is on the 16th green and one player achieves a three hole lead, the match is over. With only two holes left, the other player cannot win. It is called a win “3 and 2”, meaning one player was three up with 2 holes to go.
Fans have questioned the legitimacy of match play. Television’s viewing numbers are greatly influenced by the “best” players being in contention for the championship. They know fans would love to see Rory playing Tiger in Sunday’s final match. With so many of the top players already eliminated, the tournament will become television’s nightmare, and fans will have to find someone to root for other than Woods, McIlroy, or Johnson.
I will be rooting for Bubba Watson. This self-taught, likable player is fun to watch. No one I have ever watched can curve the ball so many ways.
If you watch, and I hope you do because it’s a fun format, you’ll get to see golfers you may get to know better. You just might find a new favorite. You will definitely see a lot of talent.
Columnist-The Guardian Express