Tag:match play friday
Posted on: February 25, 2011 7:05 pm

Kaymer could ascend to No. 1 on Saturday

MARANA, Ariz. -- Martin Kaymer threw an amusing, and yet entirely appropriate, observation on the table after winning his third-round match in the Accenture Match Play Championship on Friday.

He was looking ahead to Saturday's busy schedule, which, because of a distressing local weather forecast, is going to feature two matches instead of the previously scheduled one.

"Hopefully, it's going to be a long day for me," the 26-year-old said.

It could be a professionally rewarding one, too. Because the weather forceast prompted the semifinals to be moved up to Saturday, we'll know a day earlier whether the Germanator can supplant England's Lee Westwood as world No. 1.

All that Kaymer, who has won five times in the past 14 months, needs to do is advance to the match-play finale Sunday and he'll move up a peg from his No. 2 position when the new rankings are released Monday. He's the last of the tournament's four No. 1-seeded players still in the field. Westwood was dispatched in the second round.

"Obviously, yes, it's good for me when we talk about the world rankings," he said. "But I can just take care of my own. Here at this tournament, obviously it's one of the biggest we have all year, and to start off like this, to reach the fourth round, it's obviously nice.

"I had a good start this year already, and if I can get up one more spot in the world rankings, of course I wouldn't mind it. But I think I'll have a chance the next few weeks, months, as well."

He wouldn't mind it? Even for an understated personality like Kaymer, that's a low-key way of describing what's now within tantalizing reach. Saturday, he will play former Ryder Cup teammate Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is 20 years his senior.

Three matches down, two to go, and it could all add up to No. 1 by Saturday night for Kaymer the Climber.

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 25, 2011 6:40 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2011 6:42 pm

Moore might be unheralded, but he knows the drill

MARANA, Ariz. -- It's hardly a stretch to call Ryan Moore the least-known of the players who reached the Saturday quarterfinals of the Accenture Match Play Championship. It's hardly an insult, either.

Of the other seven to advance, six have played on Ryder Cup teams and the other, Y.E. Yang, won a major championship. Moore has a comparatively modest one PGA Tour victory to his credit.

However, none of the seven can claim a match-play record that compares to what Moore accomplished as an amateur, when he won the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Public Links and Western Amateur titles during the same calendar year in 2004. He also won all of his matches in a college team match-play event that year, too.

"Yeah, that was a pretty good run," he grinned.

So while the others can rely on past Accenture appearances or Ryder play, Moore is by no means a shrinking violet in this format. If he was, he likely would have folded Friday in his 1-up victory over Nick Watney, who birdied the last two holes to force overtime. Nobody wants to blow a 2-up lead with two to play. 

"Yeah, obviously that's a bad time to lose momentum on the 17th and 18th holes," he said.

No matter. He's seen it all in his amateur years and dug deep for the win. Moore also won the NCAA stroke-play title in 2004 for a veritable amateur Grand Slam that is considered one of the greatest seasons ever by a modern-day non-professional.

"I enjoy match play, but it's not like we get to do it all the time these days, so I'm a little rusty," Moore said. "There's just a different feel to it. 

"I think I enjoy it because it's right there in front of you. There's not 155 other guys out there playing. It's that guy and you know what it takes. On either that given hole or that day, it's right there and it's a matter of can you step up and do it. Fortunately, I've been able to do it so far."

He did it when it mattered most on the 19th hole against Watney. He had a 9-iron in hand and 154 yards to the flag and was set to pull the trigger whan a marshal raised his hands in his backswing, and he had to back off. He knocked his shot to 15 feet and rolled in the birdie putt to close out Watney, who was favored.

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 25, 2011 6:24 pm

Big boppers Holmes, Watson draw eyeballs, gasps

MARANA, Ariz. -- Those planning on attending the Accenture Match Play Championship on Saturday better pack more than just sunscreen in order to enjoy the day to maximal effect.

Bring your laser rangefinders, too.

While the majority of the biggest names have exited, the biggest hitters have not.

In fact, if what almost certainly will draw the biggest crowds of the day, Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes will meet in the quarterfinals Saturday.

They rank first and third in driving distance, averaging over 310 yards a bop off the tee.

"It should be fun," Holmes said. "We both move it out there pretty good."

Uh, yeah.

Holmes reached a par-5 this week with a driver and 8-iron, and Watson eagled a par-5 on Friday when he hit a 286-yard 3-iron. Holes laughed when it was playfully asked whether they might get sidetracked by an adrenaline showdown.

"I think we're both past that at this point in our careers," Holmes said. "Maybe when we were 16."

For those who understand the technical side, Holmes (125.3) and Watson (123.8) rank first and second in clubhead speed, well in excess of the tour average.
Category: Golf
Posted on: February 25, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2011 6:12 pm

Different strokes it isn't for Kooch at Accenture

MARANA, Ariz. -- Forget tactical.

Matt Kuchar is all about practical.

The game's quirky and nuanced mode of competition this week at the Accenture Match Play Championship hasn't prompted Matt Kuchar to alter his playing style much at all, and there might be some madness in his method, but you cannot argue with the results.

Kuchar, who has joined the argument as the best American player at the moment, beat Rickie Fowler 2 and 1 on Friday to advance to the fourth round at Dove Mountain.

Kuchar, who won the 1997 U.S. Amateur, is using a similar tactic -- playing the week as though it's just another stroke-play event. It's a decidedly odd tack to take, given that some players adjust to what their opponents have done on every shot. In fact, in his first match of the week, Jason Day actually changed his club on the first tee in reaction to what his foe had done.

Not Kuchar.

"I try to treat it the same as stroke play," he said. "I try to play smart golf. I try to hit fairways, center of greens, you know, have birdie opportunities. 

"It rarely happens that I change my strategy. I think you always expect the player to do something great. I think you've got to continue to play good golf. I think too often, you change your strategy, play conservative and end up making a conservative [par] and they make a miraculous par.

"I think the plan I maintain is very similar to stroke play. It feels like it may be a little bit more nerve wracking. Each hole feels like a tournament in itself. I think there are just a few more nerves than a regular stroke play event."

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 25, 2011 5:06 pm

Watson again overpowers course, Match Play field

MARANA, Ariz. -- Not only is Bubba Watson unbeaten, he's untied.

Making his first appearance in the Accenture Match Play Championship, the left-handed ball-bomber has won the first hole in each of this three victories, has never trailed at any point in any of his matches, and hasn't had to play beyond the 16th hole.

Watson, who dispatched two-time champion Geoff Ogilvy 6 and 4 on Friday to advance to the final eight, said he always wanted to play this event.

"Yeah," he laughed. "You make money just for showing up."

He's looking at a wheelbarrow of it, especially as he continues to execute some of the most jaw-dropping shots in the game, like the blow he struck on the par-5 11th, when he knocked a 3-iron on the green from 286 yards for a conceded eagle from Geoff Ogilvy.

How many guys can hit a low "bullet 3-iron," as Watson called it?

"Not many, Ogilvy said. "I was amazed he put that on."

Watson says he had worked to adopt a much more easygoing manner on the course since his father Gerry died last October after a long battle with cancer. Watson, whose caddie, Ted Scott, threatened to quit if he didn't lighten up on the course, realized that his golf results should never define him.

"I realized that my life, it revolves around golf, but it's not my life," he said. "My tombstone is not going to say how many wins or losses I had. It's going to hopefully say I'm a good person and everybody misses me."

Watson has been downright playful at times this week, and even conducted a postround interview where he referred to himself in the third person four or five times. Can Watson win this thing?

"Bubba's doing good right now," he said. "We'll see."

Posted on: February 25, 2011 3:52 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2011 5:22 pm

Why bombers own the world (and we are renters)

MARANA, Ariz. -- In terms of the best shots of the week, they must be running 1-2 or pretty close to it.

Having already hit one of the most memorable blows of the year when he hit a scorching slice onto the 18th green at Kapalua with a driver from the fairway, Bubba Watson authored another indelible shot Friday at the Accenture Match Play Championship.

Starrting to pull away from two-time Accenture winner Geoff Ogilvy, Watson hit a scorching 3-iron from 286 yards on the par-5 11th that scooted to within 15 feet for what was eventually a conceded eagle and a 3-up lead.

Fellow ball masher J.B. Holmes hit an equally impressive nuclear approach with an iron from the rock-strewn desert at the par-5 second hole. A 347-yard drive left him with 206 to the green, but there was a small desert plant directly behind his ball.

Holmes and his caddie Brandan Parsons tried for several minutes to figure out which direction the ball might go, since clean contact was going to be difficult. They decided to take dead aim and Holmes blew the ball through a creosote bush and to within 34 feet, where he made an easy birdie.

"When in doubt, play it straight," Holmes laughed as he walked to the green.

With the dry desert air and mountains -- the course is set at an estimated 2,500 feet in elevation -- the bashers are really having fun.
Category: Golf
Posted on: February 25, 2011 3:05 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2011 3:32 pm

Elements force massive Match Play switch

MANANA, Ariz. -- According to lore, the four elements are air, water, fire and earth.

Apparently, many of them are headed in the direction of the Accenture Match Play Championship this weekend.

With high winds expected on Saturday and frigid temperatures and rain close to certain for Sunday, event officials were forced to tweak their major offseason tweaks in the tournament before they ever took effect.

In an offseason change, the semifinals were moved to Sunday, followed by an 18-hole final. With 35 mph gusts expected Saturday, and an 80 percent chance of rain and temperatures in the high 40s on Sunday, the plan was scrapped.

Instead, the quarterfinals and semifinals will be staged Saturday, with matches set to begin at 9:10 a.m. ET, though frost delays are likely to push back that optimistic plan. The semifinals are set for 1:45 p.m. ET Saturday.

The PGA Tour's Steve Carman said officials are fearful that gusts will blow so strong Saturday that balls will blown off the resort's extremely undulating greens.

On Sunday, officials hope to start the 18-hole finale at 2:15 p.m. ET.
Category: Golf
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