Posted on: February 27, 2012 6:18 pm
By Shane Bacon
The ratings for the Accenture Match Play finals between Hunter Mahan and Rory McIlroy were the highest non-Tiger final since the tournament started in 1999. The numbers could have been for a few reasons (no real sports competitor with the rainout at Daytona and the NBA being on All-Star weekend), but what if it was simply because we've found the next Tiger Woods?
Now I'm not one of those guys that sits here and searches for that person. Rory McIlroy will never be 100 percent of Tiger Woods. Tiger changed the game of golf forever, and his ability to transcend sports was exactly why he was such a big deal. But eventually someone was going to come along to be the successor of Woods. A talent that wins early, wins by a lot, and does so in the big events.
Sure, McIlroy has fallen on his face as many times on the big stage as he has won (see 2011 Masters and the Accenture), but that many people coming to watch Rory play means that something is up, and it's a great thing for the game of golf.
If Rory can bring that many views to something like the Accenture, playing against Mahan, imagine what would happen if he found himself going head-to-head with a HUGE name in golf on the biggest stage? If Rory was to face Tiger, or Phil, or Lee or Luke in the final round of the Masters, we'd really see what the McIlroy movement would do.
For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow Shane Bacon and Eye On Golf on Twitter.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 7:29 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 6:10 pm
By Shane Bacon
A Mahan masterpiece or a McIlroy mulligan?
The crazy thing about match play format is the fact that a lot of the times you don’t get the best “TV matchup” when you get down to the final four players. We hardly ever get the two best players in the world going against each other, and a lot of the times one of the people in the finals isn’t exactly warranting views, but it was a nice surprise when Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan ended up being the final two men standing in Marana.
Mahan is a talented American who has always been a golfer to watch, and has had marginal success on the PGA Tour. McIlroy, of course, is Tiger 2.0, a kid with curly hair, a desirable golf swing and the swagger to become the best at a very young age.
And while we didn’t really pick this as one of our hopeful matches to begin the week, it was definitely satisfying. Mahan had played some of the best golf heading into the finals and McIlroy was searching for something that would have made all the headlines if it happened. But did it turn out to be Mahan’s victory of Rory’s defeat?
McIlroy admitted after his finals loss that grinding out a win against Lee Westwood in the semifinals might have taken more out of him than he initially thought possible, but I’m not so much into buying that as I am to think that he simply got beat by a guy playing better golf.
Mahan seemed to keep hitting the shot he needed at the right time, rolled in some clutch putts and would have beat McIlroy even worse if not for a nasty lip-out on the 16th green. Rory is the type of player that could go on Tiger-like runs with his game, but it sure doesn’t seem like he’s there quite yet.
For now, we can all enjoy the fact that an American with an equally impressive golf swing and flat-brimmed custom caps took down an incredible field and did it on his own terms.
McIlroy will have his chance to win this tournament when he’s ready. For now, Mahan notched his third PGA Tour win in as many years, and second World Golf Championships trophy.
The Question Mark rookie
There is something incredibly brilliant about a good nickname in sports, and a rookie that outlasted a tour vet in an eight-hole playoff at the Mayakoba Classic might have the best nickname of them all.
John Huh is a big-time player, and in his fifth career PGA Tour event, won after Robert Allenby did just about everything in his power to give Johnny Question Mark the event before a playoff even ensued.
Allenby had a two-shot lead standing on the 18th tee, but knowing that it’s 2012 and no lead is safe, hit driver into the trees and carded a double-bogey.
Ten holes later, Huh was the champion and Allenby was left wondering how the heck he didn’t get his first PGA Tour win since 2001.
Note to just about everyone with a big lead on the final hole; it’s okay to hit an iron off the tee. Nobody is going to make fun of the way you win if you win. Anything goes if it means you leave with the trophy.
One Last Tiger Note
I got a lot of messages from people that mentioned something about Tiger Woods not really looking into his matches this week at the Accenture. A few people mentioned that it almost seemed like he was just working on some stuff and getting ready for this week’s Honda Classic.
But in our Tiger Vernacular Handbook, wouldn’t that go against everything he has ever said when he talks about playing? He stays true to certain phrases, and “coming here to win” is one of his favorites. If he has some things to work on, that’s fine, but I don’t think Tiger is heading to a big event like the Accenture in hopes of practicing and “finding” something for the next week’s event.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 11:19 pm
By Shane Bacon
Hunter Mahan -- Obviously. Mahan played some incredibly inspired golf, beating some big names in the game and stepping up to Rory McIlory, who was playing for something much bigger than just the Marana trophy. Also, with his recent Presidents Cup success, Mahan has shown he’s a match play titan, and is music to Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III’s ears.
Ping Golf -- They had three of the top four finishers rocking their new equipment, and the talk of the week was Mahan’s new Nome putter that seemed to help Hunter knock in just about any big putt he needed to make.
Mark Wilson -- This guy needs to be known more than he is, and this week showed that no matter how short he hits it off the tee, his iron play and short game are second to none. Wilson has won three PGA Tour events in just over 13 months. People need to start acknowledging him as an A-class player in golf.
Sang-Moon Bae -- Look at the list of players Bae knocked off before losing to Rory Mcilroy; Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzel, and John Senden. Sure, the last wasn’t the biggest name possible, but Bae made McIlroy sweat, and showed that he’s a name we must remember when major championship week rolls around.
Rory McIlroy -- Yes, he made it to the finals, and yes, he nearly became the top dog in golf, but if McIlroy wants to be The Man, he must close these types of tournaments out. He has played some incredible golf over the last few months, but winning is everything, and his game in the finals seemed shaky at best.
Tiger Woods -- Anytime Tiger isn’t in the hunt he’s considered a loser, but boy did he look lost this week with his golf swing. When the season started I thought Woods was close with his game. Now? I’m not so sure even he could be convinced he’s ready to win a PGA Tour tournament.
Luke Donald -- You’re the number one ranked golfer in the world, and no matter who you’re playing, you can’t lose in the first round of a tournament you’re defending. Donald showed that while the rankings say he’s the best, his game might not agree.
Rickie Fowler -- Another week, another disappointment. I think Fowler is a good player, but it seems his name rings louder than his game. Fowler lost in the first round to a veteran that admitted after his match that he’d spent the last week away from golf. Not the best endorsement for Fowler’s time to win PGA Tour events.For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow Shane Bacon and Eye On Golf on Twitter.
Posted on: February 21, 2012 6:33 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 1:23 pm
By Shane Bacon
Graeme McDowell vs. Hunter Mahan (second round) -- I’m fairly certain Mahan would love a piece of McDowell in match player after what happened at the 2010 Ryder Cup, and it would be the featured round of Thursday.
Adam Scott vs. Dustin Johnson (third round) -- I just like the idea of zero University of Arizona girls going to class on Friday so they can head out and see Mr. Scott vs. Mr. Johnson.
Martin Kaymer vs. Bubba Watson (third round) -- I think just about everyone would be excited to see this rematch of the 2011 semi-finals, just as long as Kaymer leaves the scarf at home.
Rory McIlroy vs. Jason Day (quarter-finals) -- I have a feeling this will happen, and I’m absolutely jazzed about it.
Rory McIlroy vs. Tiger Woods (semi-finals) -- Do I really need to explain why this would be awesome?
Posted on: March 24, 2011 4:49 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Care to walk a mile in Hunter Mahan's shoes?
Not sure you could afford it.
Mahan, one of the most consistent players in the game over the early 2011 season, fired a 3-under 69 on Thursday to claim a share of the morning lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Thursday and was quickly complimented on his flashy footwear, which has white leather and flashy black stripes.
"You should have seen what I had yesterday," the Californian said. "A blue, snakeskin look. Sharp."
You knew bluesnakes existed, right?
"You haven't seen those?" Mahan said? "I killed him myself. In Texas, we've got 'em."
Mahan, 28, is doing just fine hunting actual birdies and eagles. He already has four top-9 finishes this year and thus far this season has eliminated the ups and downs he's experienced in past years. Learning when to lay back and when to pounce seems to be a key to his success. With the wind swirling and scores going only moderately low, he throttled down.
"I really hit my spots," he said. "I played smart. There's so much water and trouble you've got to play it safe if it's not there."
Mahan didn;t play last week and showed up wearing a scraggly beard and the beginnings of a goattee. He admits that he has trouble growing in the connecting parts between his chin and sideburns. He would if he could.
"Like Brian Wilson," he said of the San Francisco Giants relief pitcher. "I'd black it all out."
Red dye would be more fitting, considering he's been painting scoreboards in that hue all year.