Friday, February 27, 2009

ACM - Day 3 Live Update

I wasn't going to do updates today, but I just really saw Phil's white belt for the first time, and it looks terrible.

Leave the fashion endeavors to Poulter and Kim.

Well, I'll be here all afternoon, at least until I need to go in to work.


3:38 White belt sighting number 3? Paul Casey? Well, he's European - he's excused.


3:30 It took an hour, but matches are starting to tighten up. Luke Donald is back to 1DN, and the Phil/Stewie match has closed too, with Stewie only 1UP

Should be a great afternoon of golf.


2:39 Geoff Ogilvy takes the first lead of the day after 4 holes against Camillo. Ernie Els is taking it to Luke Donald, going 3 UP after five holes. Ernie may begin making a believer out of me again. He's making no mistakes


2:37 It looks like Cink has one of those stark white belts on too, but his shirt isn't tucked in so tight that it sticks out like a band of lights in Times Square. Phil, loosen up the shirt a little buddy.


2:35 Is this the new and improved Ian Poulter? It's not his game that needed improvement, but his arrogance.

Now, every professional athlete has a bit of an arrogant attitude - like Bobby Fisher said, you need to have contempt for your opponent.

But to see Poulter with conservative apparel and focusing on golf is actually refreshing. Perhaps we're going to see him ascend to the elite of the golfing world.

ACM - Day 3 Preview

I think I got a little overwhelmed with the full bracket breakdown on Wednesday, so I apologize for not putting up a day two preview.

Now that I've recovered, it's time to break down the sweet sixteen.

Bobby Jones Bracket

Match 53
#8 Tim Clark SAF vs. #4 Rory McIlroy NIR

I don't think Tim Clark will suffer any letdown after beating Tiger. I am also not surprised he pulled out the win. Tim Clark is a solid player who is going to be a major champion someday.
Rory McIlroy is plugging along. The look on his face after beating Hunter Mahan displayed relief and excitement - he wants to win, and he's looking forward to continuing to advance.
As well as Clark is playing I don't know that Rory has enough to beat him, but I still believe Rory's playing on a big stage and trying to make a statement here in his first start on U.S. soil.

I'll take the young gun in a thriller.

Outcome: McIlroy, 19 Holes

Match 54
#2 Geoff Ogilvy AUS vs. #3 Camillo Villegas COL

The left side of the bracket features 4 incredible matchups. And this isn't even the best of them.
It's a great pairing, though, and should be the most competitive of the bunch.
Ogilvy is as steady and unflappable as Villegas is fiery and explosive. Both are playing well, and this is a toss-up.
I'm continuing to make bad choices by taking the player I really like and going against the player I still haven't warmed to.
This will be a barn burner.

Outcome: Ogilvy, 1UP

Ben Hogan Bracket

Match 49
#9 Luke Donald ENG vs. #4 Ernie Els SAF

This decision isn't any easier to make. I don't know if Luke spent a ton of energy in his comeback against Vijay Singh, but it looks like he's playing well and ready to advance. Els' win over Steve Stricker was equally impressive, but I don't know how confident I am that he can continue to win.
Luke Donald is proving to me that he is playing well, and I'll take him in another closely contested match which could go either way. I have no idea.

Outcome: Donald, 1UP

Match 50
#2 Phil Mickelson USA vs. #6 Stewart Cink USA

This is the only match of the four where I really think I have an idea what's going to happen. I'm sure tomorrow the results will prove me wrong.
Phil is playing very good golf right now and he won his first two matches, which is all that matters. In any bracketed tournament, the motto is "survive and advance."
Stewart Cink has been doing the exact same thing, although in a different manner. He has not run out to big leads, but instead battled closely to the end to pull out wins.
I think they're both great match play players, but I'm giving the edge to the player who has an incredible record in both President's Cup and Ryder Cup play.
Oh, he has a runner-up finish in this tourney as well.

Outcome: Cink, 2 AND 1

Gary Player Bracket

Match 55
#8 Ian Poulter ENG vs. #12 Sean O'Hair USA

Ian Poulter is proving to be a capable match play player. Sean O'Hair is showing people why he will someday, sooner rather than later, become a successful President's Cup and Ryder Cup player.
O'Hair took out a very capable Boo Weekley today, and Poulter has been the recipient of a beneficial draw.
Sean O'Hair needs to step up soon. Getting to the Elite Eight here will be a good start.

Outcome: O'Hair, 2 AND 1

Match 56
#15 Peter Hansen SWE vs. #6 Paul Casey ENG

Peter Hansen is one of the few fifteen seeds to make it this far in this event. He's playing very good golf right now. Paul Casey got a bit of a reprieve in facing Matthew Goggin on day two after having to eliminate Aaron Baddeley.
The big upsets tend to stop once the players reach the sweet sixteen. Paul Casey is the one to watch on this side of the bracket and in the Gary Player bracket specifically.

Outcome: Casey, 4 AND 3

Sam Snead Bracket

Match 51
#9 Ross Fisher ENG vs. #4 Jim Furyk USA

Ross Fisher is not a fifteen seed, but with the lack of knowledge I had of him he just as well could have been.
Jim Furyk continues to do what he does best - play good golf, fly under the radar and pick up wins.
He'll continue to do that on day 3 since he has more experience in his earlobe than Ross Fisher has in his golf bag. This won't be a blowout, but I don't see Furyk losing here.

Outcome: Furyk, 2 AND 1

Match 52
#7 Justin Leonard USA vs. #11 Owen Wilson ENG

This will not be the most flashy of matches, even though both of these players can make putts from anywhere. They could be in your backyard right now and put it in the cup on your local muni.
Leonard is solid and experienced in match play. Owen Wilson got indoctrinated at last year's Ryder Cup, and came through in flying colors.
This will be an entertaining match to watch, filled with solid golf. I'm going to take the player I wanted to in the first round and who has convinced me that he's the real deal.

Outcome: Wilson, 2 AND 1

Thursday, February 26, 2009

ACM - Day 2 Live Update

Sorry I don't have a preview for today's matches - I will be updating as I follow coverage on The Golf Channel, though.

Tiger's going to have his hands full with Tim Clark today. Clark is solid, he handled Retief Goosen yesterday, and he's not going to be intimidated.

The right half of my bracket is devastated. My two final four picks, Robert Karlsson and Stuart Appleby are out, and basically all my other picks lost too.

I was perfect in the Ben Hogan bracket, but all the favorites won there, and the 9 seed Luke Donald won. Not too tough to make those picks.


Tiger being Tiger, he calmly sinks a twelve foot birdie putt to square the match with Tim Clark after seven holes.

Zach Johnson hit a beautiful approach to about six feet and converts the birdie to get 1DN against Phil. They're going to the 18th, where Zach must win to stay alive in the match.

I can't get enough of the new Nike commercial - it's fantastic. Carl Petterson's reaction at the end of it is priceless.


Eww, an atrocious approach on the par-3 12th by Phil. He came up short of the bunker that fronts the green - I mean, that's SHORT.


Some incredible matches today: Ernie Els vs. Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson vs. Phil Mickleson, Lee Westwood vs. Stewart Cink, Miguel Angel Jimenez vs. Camillio Villegas...I could almost type them all - really great pairings.


After winning the par-5 second, Tiger hits a beautful approach on the par-3 third hole to about eight feet. Clark missed the green to the right. Advantage Tiger.


There's not a whole lot that's compelling in the coverage so far today - except that Phil just lost a hole, and we get to see if he can close the match out, or just hold on to squeak another one out.

I know that it's the win that counts, and it doesn't matter if it's ugly or not, but convincing wins build more confidence than close nail-biters.


Tim Clark just dropped an absolute BOMB. It actually looked like a mirror image of Tiger's putt on 17 at The Players a few years ago - without the island of course.


Phil misses ANOTHER shortish putt to give another hole back to Zach Johnson. From 4UP to 2UP.

In other action, Anthony Kim is making a comeback against Owen Wilson, draining a huge putt himself.


Phil got a little chippy with Steve Sands in the post round interview yesterday when Sands asked about giving up the 4UP lead and if it was comparable to last week's final round drama. If he gives up ANOTHER 4UP lead today, you don't think Sands is going to talk about it again?

I have no idea what's going on with Phil, but he's having another terribly difficult time closing out another match.


Well, Tiger is 1DOWN for the first time this week. This was going to be a difficult match, Clark is playing well, and how Tiger plays the rest of the way will show how 'back' he really is.


Nice approach by Phil, Zach carried his just a bit too far and he's got an almost unmakeable putt to try and halve the match.


Phil pulls his match out to face Stewart Cink tomorrow - one of the best pairings of the tournament.

Tiger has evened up his match with Tim Clark, and Owen Wilson just took out Anthony Kim. On the surface a big upset, but seeing how Owen Wilson played in last year's Ryder Cup I'm not that surprised. Plus, the guy made eight birdies on his round, so Tony didn't play terrible - he just got beat.


He bleeds!!! Tiger misses a putt to go to 3 down in his match. Sorry for the delay, I needed to go to the market.

And now I need to go to work. :(

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ACM - Day 1 Live Updates

I'll put them all in one post, so check back here for updates before I head to work

Tiger makes a perfect swing off the first tee to get in an ideal position for his approach shot. He makes the second swing of the day, and it looks from his body language the he missed it a bit.

The result? The ball lands about twenty feet away then spins back to about five feet from the hole.

Pretty good.

Brendan Jones' swing looks really good, but if Tiger is on he's going have a great learning experience today.

Stewart Cink just drained a long putt to win his match on the 19th hole.


I'm 3-1 on my picks early in the day, but my Gary Player bracket is set up for disaster - 3 of my picks are already behind.


At this rate, Tiger's putts per greens in regulation stat is going to be ridiculous - he just lofted one from 230 yards away on the second hole within 5 feet again. No signs of rust at all.


2 holes, 1 birdie 1 eagle, and Tiger is 2 UP

And a lesson for all you standardized test takers - the old adage of sticking to your first instinct is important. In my initial picks I had Owen Wilson beating KJ Choi, and Matthew Goggin beating Kenny Perry. I went the other way when I finalized my picks.

The result? Perry and Choi both lost. Ick.


OOPS! Tiger overcut his approach to the par 3 third, and it looks like the wind may have gotten it a bit to push it in to the right hand bunker.

Jones is pumped though, and he powered his approach just over the green.

In other action, Phil Mickelson, who did have a 4 UP lead, is giving up some ground to Angel Cabrera who has the advantage on the par three 16th. Phil is 2 UP with 3 to go.


Angel Cabrera nails his birdie putt on the 16th hole to crawl back to 1DN with two holes to play.


Beautiful chip from Phil behind the green to save par, but Angel Cabrera makes another birdie to square the match!
Fantastic match here as they head to the 18th tee for a win or go home final hole.


Paul Casey defeats Aaron Baddeley to lose me my second sweet sixteen pick for the week. Ouch.


Angel Cabrera and Phil Mickelson halve the 18th hole with pars to extend the match. Phil living up to his nickname after being unable to finish with a 4UP lead. They go back to the irst hole to play overtime.

I'm hoping Phil pulls this one out so we can see him play Zach Johnson, who just won his first match 3 and 1 over Graeme McDowell.


The Big Kat is making a run! Shingo Katayama, with three consecutive birdies, has taken a 1UP lead over Trevor Immelman with four holes left to play.


Brendan Jones had a huge opportunity to make birdie and cut the lead to 1 against Tiger, but a little too much speed in the putt and it slides by to the left.

That's it for now. I need to go in to work. Enjoy the coverage!

Accenture Match Play - Day 1

Almost ten more minutes until Tiger tees off, most of the matches are underway, with a few final already.

Anthony Kim absolutely dismantled Lin Wen-Tang from Chinese Tai Pei 7 and 5. Other morning winners were Camillo Villegas and Lee Westwood. **Update: Owen Wilson defeats KJ Choi, and Stewart Cink has been pushed in to overtime.**

I haven't been able to see too much commentary on how the course is playing, but as the afternoon goes on, and the wind and heat pick up the course should play a little firmer and faster.

Here's the link for the live scoring on the pga website.

Also, Jason Sobel is doing another of his live blogs over on ESPN. It's always informative and fun to follow along with him as he's covering the action.

Jason Sobel live blog on ESPN.

I'll also encourage you to use the links I've posted on the right side of the page to the tour websites. All the player profiles are easily accessible, and it really adds to watching each matchup by being able to see each player's form and history.

Enjoy a great week of golf, and a great event. I'll be updating when I can.

Accenture Match Play - Bracket Breakdown

I've posted complete analysis of the four brackets in this week's Accenture Match Play World Golf Championships.

They are somewhat in reverse order, as I wrote about Tiger's bracket first, but it's much further down the page.

Scroll down and read that first, then work your way back up.

I'll have a more thoughts posted before coverage begins at 2PM EST on Wednesday.


Accenture Match Play - Sam Snead Bracket Preview

This bracket may not have the name firepower of the other three, but there are a lot of land mines in here for players to avoid.

Match 27
#1 Padraig Harrington IRE vs. #16 Pat Perez USA

I am not going to pick Perez in the upset, but if these two were to play ten times, I've got to think that Perez wins at least 4 of them.
Pat Perez is a sparkplug of emotion and talent. Harrington is plodding and efficient. This could be really interesting.
Padraig took the reins when Tiger went on medical hiatus, and staked the claim of best player in the world. We'll see what he does in a match play event in which he won't need to play Tiger unless they both reach the finals.
This is going to be very close, and even though I'm going to take the chalk this is the one 16 versus 1 pairing in which I think the upset is possible.

Outcome: Harrington 1 UP

Match 28
#8 Robert Allenby AUS vs. #9 Ross Fisher ENG

There were two R. Fisher's on the Euro Tour website, so I hope I got the right one. :O
In the last eight years, Allenby has never lost a first round match and has a T5 and T9 to go along with two T17 finishes.
Allenby knows match play, like Bo knows baseball and football and Bo Diddly.
Did Bo know Bo Diddly? I forget. Man, that commercial is old. I guess I'm getting there too.

Outcome: Allenby 3 AND 2

Match 19
#4 Jim Furyk USA vs. #13 Anders Hansen DEN

Anders Hansen is good. He already has a win on the Euro tour this year at the Joburg Open.
Jim Furyk is good, but also a bit of an enigma. He will continually make cuts, but you never know when he's going to step up to win.
This is going to be a tough one to call, and an even tougher one to win. Furyk played great in last year's Ryder Cup, and maybe he just needs one event to step up this year.
I'll take Furyk in a squeaker, but I'm prepared for the upset.

Outcome: Furyk 19 Holes

Match 20
#5 Martin Kaymer GER vs. #12 Stuart Appleby AUS

This is going to be a fantastic match. Kaymer is trying to assert himself this year much like McIlroy and Karlsson want to, and Appleby is a birdie machine and match play veteran.
This match will likely be over by the time coverage begins and Tiger tees off, but I'll be anxious to watch highlights.
I'm going to go with experience and the birdie machine in this one, but this is another example of matches in this bracket with firepower and drama potential without the name recognition of the other brackets.

Outcome: Appleby 1UP

Match 11
#2 Henrik Stenson SWE vs. #15 Davis Love III USA

Stenson is another European stalwart, and an incredible player.
DL III has broken my heart way too much over the years, and I'll never pick him in any spot again.
Good luck, Davis. :)

Outcome: Stenson 3 AND 2

Match 12
#7 Justin Leonard USA vs. #10 Andres Romero ARG

At the risk of repeating myself, a GREAT match-up. I haven't been a fan of Justin for a long time, but I will always respect what he does - make huge putts in clutch spots, and quite possibly be the second biggest bulldog in US golf in the last 15 years, behind only Corey Pavin.
Andres Romero is an incredible talent, and unflappable. He's competed in big spots, and has huge game.
This may be the biggest dogfight of all first round matches, and I'll tune in to this after Casey and Badds finish their match.

Outcome: Romero 1 UP

Match 3
#3 Anthony Kim USA vs. #14 Lin Wen-Tang TAI

Another chance to get a taste of the Asian Tour, Wen-Tang is a 4 time tourney winner with 2 other worldwide championships.
This match, though, offers the bigger storyline - will Anthony Kim begin his pursuit as the man to chase Tiger as the most dominant player in the world?
Please excuse my hyperbole. Anthony needs to usurp Phil, Sergio, Vijay and others to even come close, but the excitement and talent he brings to the table is palpable. He is quite simply the most dynamic player we've seen since Sergio Garcia scissor-kicked his way to recognition at Medinah.
Tony has only played on US soil twice this year, with a missed the cut after tying for second in the season opening Mercedes. He has two starts on the European Tour, finishing T25 and T33 there.
On form? Not quite - but when you have the tools that he has, and considering the experience he got in match play at last year's Ryder Cup, you've got to think he's ready to step up.
We'll see if Lin has anything to say about that.

Outcome: Kim 5 AND 4

Match 4
#6 KJ Choi vs. #11 Owen Wilson

Another really nice match versus experience and youth.
Choi is a multiple winner on the PGA Tour with more tools than you can shake a stick at (but don't try shaking his putter - that huge grip may cause you a wrist sprain.) Wilson had a great Ryder Cup last year and is asserting himself on the European Tour.
I'm going to call a close one, with experience winning out yet again.

Outcome: Choi 1UP

Accenture Match Play - Gary Player Bracket Preview

This bracket and the Sam Snead bracket are filled with great pairings. There should be a lot of explosive matches, and a greater possibility for upsets.

Match 31
#1 Sergio Garcia SPA vs. #16 Charl Schwartzel SAF
The top European player versus the South African who is ranked 15th on the Euro Order of Merit.
Schwartzel has one of the best names in the brackets, but Sergio's got too much game.
Not too much for me to look at here. That probably means Serge will get the boot but good in his first match.

Outcome: Garcia 4 AND 3

Match 32
#8 Ian Poulter ENG vs. #9 Jeev-Milka Singh IND

Poulter had a great Ryder Cup last year after contending for the British Open. Singh finds himself in contention all the time. It's difficult to watch Jeev's swing, which isn't the most beautiful thing on the planet, but he always seems to get the job done with what he's got to work with.
I'm going to take the minor upset here.

Outcome: Singh 1 UP

Match 23
#3 Justin Rose ENG vs. #13 Boo Weekley USA

BOOOOOO! As long as he 'rides the pony' galloping down from the first tee I'll be happy, no matter the outcome of the match.
Rose has yet to live up to his potential as one of the most well rounded and solid players in the world. Boo can win any given week, and the confidence he gained from last year's uber match play experience at the Ryder Cup is invaluable.
I'll take Boo on US soil, and see if he can make some more noise in match play.

Outcome: Weekley, 2 AND 1

Match 24
#5 Adam Scott AUS vs. #12 Sean O'Hair USA

A great match-up. The seemingly all-world Scott, who still hasn't lived up to his billing even after taking The Players in 2004, which still seems like yesterday, against another run of the mill solid US player in O'Hair.
I think this boils down again to someone who has too many tools at his disposal, even though O'Hair will put up a game fight. He's another bulldog like Zach Johnson, but he may be a little outclassed here.

Outcome: Scott 2 AND 1

Match 15
#2 Robert Karlsson SWE vs. #15 Peter Hanson SWE

Ladies and Gentlemen of the United States, meet Mr. Robert Karlsson.
After a clinical display of clutchness in last year's Ryder Cup, Robert Karlsson will look to continue his rise in world consciousness by taking the match play format and doing what he does best - play like one of the best players in the world.
He and Rory McIlroy are the two Euro players I expect to separate themselves from the pack to chase Sergio, and this could be the stage to do it.
Hanson is 10th on the European Order of Merit this year, and this may be a closer match than I envision, but Karlsson is just too good.

Outcome: Karlsson 4 AND 3

Match 16
#7 Alvaro Quiros SPA vs. #10 Stephen Ames CAN

Alvaro WHO? I'm not trying to be sarcastic here, but I truly have NEVER heard of the man who won already this year at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters and sits at 6th place on the European Order of Merit.
I have heard of Stephen Ames, though, the man that Tiger took behind the woodshed a few years ago and came back to just miss making the finals in this event 3 years ago.
I'm going to throw out form in this match and go with experience. Ames has too much of it as another journeyman like Kevin Sutherland. Ames just got fortunate enough to draw the better matchup.

Outcome: Ames 1 UP

Match 7
#3 Kenny Perry USA vs. #14 Matthew Goggin AUS

This may have been the most difficult match-up for me to pick. Why? I have no idea. It just seems rife for an upset.
Yes, Kenny Perry is solid. He's a great ball striker and putter. But Goggin is a fine player, and this is a match-up that absolutely has upset written all over it.
Sigh, a little research can change things. Goggin has missed two cuts this year, including last week's Northern Trust Open (I still hate that name) and Kenny has two things going for him - experience AND form. He's also got a win to his credit already this year.

Outcome: Perry 3 AND 2

Match 8
#6 Paul Casey ENG vs. #11 Aaron Baddeley AUS

One of the best ten matchups of the day, and quite possibly the best. Two young guns, but not just gunners.
These are two of the best young players in the world, and they're going to beat each other up. Casey, with a little more power and great ball striking prowess is going to face the equally solid Baddeley who can counter-punch with a golden putting stroke.
I'd be better tossing a coin in the air to pick this one. Needless to say, I'm quite possibly going to enjoy watching this match the most of the first round matches.

Outcome: Baddeley 20 holes

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Accenture Match Play - Ben Hogan Bracket Preview

Match 25
#1 Vijay Singh FIJ vs. #16Soren Kjeldsen DEN

The big Fijian versus the great Dane - well, maybe not the 'great' dane, but Soren Kjeldsen does have a win to his credit at last year's Volvo Masters.
Kjeldsen isn't having a great year, though, and Vijay is the big Fijian.

Outcome: Vijay Singh, 5UP

Match 26
#8 Ben Curtis USA vs. #9 Luke Donald ENG

One of my favorite first round matches between two of my favorite players: the unheralded major-champion Ben Curtis versus the much lauded, yet to win a major Luke Donald.
Curtis always brings his best, but it may not be good enough against an on form Donald. Look for a well played matchup of fundamentally sound players.

Outcome: Donald, 2 AND 1

Match 17
#4 Ernie Els SAF vs. #13 Soren Hansen DEN

Another match-up of very good players, Ernie just isn't the Ernie of old. He does have a top ten to his credit this year, though, and Hansen hasn't been lighting it up on the Euro tour.
I'm going to make another change here from my initial picks, but I don't feel that confident about it. If Els wins this match, its sets up a VERY interesting second round match if my next pick wins as well.

Outcome: Els, 2 AND 1

Match 18
#5 Steve Stricker USA vs. #12 Dustin Johnson USA

A very intriguing match-up. The first pairing of two players who are completely on form and looking to continue their fine play. Also, a drastic difference in playing styles.
Stricker is one of the most clutch putters on tour, and Johnson one of the most powerful ball strikers.
Youth versus experience, length versus short game prowess.
Johnson could easily pull this one out, but I'll go with the better putter here.

Outcome: Stricker, 3 AND 2

Match 9
#2 Phil Mickelson USA vs. #15 Angel Cabrera ARG

This would have been a more intriguing match-up had Phil not won last week, and if the course wasn't as long as it is.
If it were shorter perhaps Cabrera could've used his minor length advantage to take control of the match, but all things being equal Phil just has more weapons at his disposal.
The outcome of this match will go a long way to see how much of a statement Phil wants to make during the week Tiger returns to the world of golf.

Outcome: Mickelson, 5 AND 4

Match 10
#7 Zach Johnson USA vs. #10 Graeme McDowell NIR

Zach-Attach vs. a solid Euro Tour player in McDowell. McDowell is having a fine year on the European Tour without a top ten finish. Zach already has a win to his credit, and has an incredible game from 100-yards in.
Unfortunately for Zach the length of the course won't let him use his strength as too much of an advantage, but it should allow him to recover better from errant shots.
Zach is a great putter, a proven winner, and has tons of experience to draw from. He's a bulldog.

Outcome: Johnson, 2 AND 1

Match 1
#3 Lee Westwood, ENG vs. #14 Prayad Marksaeng THA

This is one of the reasons why this event is so great - we to get discover fine players from other tours who are rewarded for consistent play, even if it's not on the PGA or Euro tours, to earn enough points to be ranked in the top 64 in the world.
Marksaeng has been playing on the Asian tour for 13 years and has 6 wins there. He has 4 other wins worldwide. I don't know anything about him than that which I can read on the Asian Tour website, but his career resume is respectable.
I'm going to be biased, though, and take the man who is battle tested in Ryder Cups and has been one of the most consistent players in the world for the last ten years.

Outcome: Westwood, 3 AND 2

Match 2
#6 Stewart Cink USA vs. Richard Sterne SAF

Another intruiging match-up. Sterne had two wins in December on the European Tour, and has followed that up with a T12 this year.
On the other hand, Cink is another battle tested match play veteran, with success in both the President's Cup and Ryder Cup. Multiple PGA victories and a runner-up finish in this event last year bode well for the solid ball striker and putter.
Well rounded Cink is one of my favorites, and I'll take him in a first round win.

Outcome: Cink, 3 AND 2

Accenture Match Play - Bobby Jones Bracket Preview

So here goes my breakdown of the brackets, match by match, starting with the Bobby Jones bracket.

I haven't been able to link my filled out bracket, so all the predictions I make will be my actual bracket choices.

Typically, match play is dominated by good putting which leads to birdies, followed by ball strikers who put it close enough that they don't need to worry about putting.

This week, the course is overly long and the greens are incredibly undulating.

When making your research this week, go with form. Players who have all aspects of their game working will have the advantage this week.

Here goes, nothing...

Match 29
#1 Tiger Woods USA vs. #16 Brendan Jones AUS

Everyone might say that Brendan Jones is this year's sacrificial lamb, being the unlucky 64th ranked player to face Tiger in his first event back.
He is Australian, though, and Tiger has been ousted twice in this event by Aussies. Does that give Jones hope? Maybe a little, but not much. Observers have stated that Tiger's short game is incredible right now, and his practice rounds show that his game from tee to green is on form.
Maybe not a blow out, but a first round win for Tiger.

Outcome: Tiger Woods, 4 and 3

Match 30
#8 Tim Clark SAF vs. #9 Retief Goosen SAF

Just like in the NCAA tourney, 8/9 matchups are always toss-ups, and this battle of South Africans is no different. Goosen found some form at Pebble Beach a couple of weeks ago thanks to improved putting. Tim Clark has 4 top 25 finishes in the four starts he's made on the PGA Tour this year.
When both players are on form, you can usually expect the better putter to have the advantage. It's been noted that these greens are treacherous this week, not because of the speed but because of the undulations. That can negate a putting advantage.
So we go back to where we start - this is a toss-up, and should be a very closely contested match.

Outcome: Tim Clark, 1 UP

Match 21
#4 Rory McIlroy NIR vs. #13 Louis Oosthuizen SAF

A tale of two youngsters stepping up and trying to take over control of the European tour: McIlroy is second on the European Tour money list so far this year, Oosthuizen is fourth.
Rory already has a win this year at the Dubai Desert Classic, and he is the complete package. Sometimes his ballstriking overshadows his putting, much like the other heralded phenom turned veteran Sergio Garcia.
While Oosthuizen's future is just as bright, I see McIlroy becoming a world beater, and possibly using this stage in the US this week to make it clear.

Outcome: McIlroy, 2 AND 1

Match 22
#5 Mike Weir CAN vs. #12 H. Mahan USA

Usually an upset special in the NCAA tourney, this is a pairing that would seem to follow the same way.
Hunter Mahan, while typically a birdie machine (which usually leads to match play success) normally gets my vote here. Mike Wier is on solid form, though, coming off a tie for third place at the Bob Hope in the desert, and a second place finish at Pebble Beach.
I'll take form in this one, as everything else is almost equal.

Outcome: Mike Weir, 1UP

Match 13
#2 Geoff Ogilvy AUS vs. #15 Kevin Sutherland USA

An upset special if I've ever seen one. Everyone will look past Kevin Sutherland to pick one of the best players in the world. Sutherland is a solid PGA Tour journeyman, though, and a past winner of this event.
I'll look past him, too. Ogilvy is too solid, and I'm too sold on him. Another close one.

Outcome: Ogilvy, 2 AND 1

Match 14
#7 Trevor Immelman SAF vs. #10 Shingo Katayama

While Immelman is a major champion, Shingo is a major competitor, donning his trademark cowbot hat and charging at leaders in the final rounds of majors the last few years.
I haven't picked an upset yet, and I think that this is the first possible upset in this bracket.
Give me the big Kat.

Outcome: Katayama, 2 AND 1

Match 5
#3 Camillo Villegas COL vs. #14 Rod Pampling AUS

This is the first instance that while doing research for material to write on each match, I am actually going to change my pick based on said found research.
Pampling has a missed cut in Dubai, and Villegas has a missed cut at the FBR Open, but Villegas is on form after twelfth and third place finishes on tour this year.
Villegas has more game to offer, but Pampling is solid too.
Tough pick. No idea.

Outcome: Villegas, 3 AND 2

Match 6
#6 Miguel Angel Jimenez SPA vs. #11 R. Sabbatini SAF

Arguably the best match of the bracket. "The Mechanic," steady and firm, against the explosiveness of Sabbatini.
Two very different styles and personalities in a match that should provide the most fireworks in the Jones bracket. Expect a back and forth battle, lead changes galore, and some antics from Rory.

Outcome: Sabbatini, 1UP

Technical Difficulties

I have been trying to find a bracket online that I can write all my picks out on, then link to the site.

I haven't found any. They're all Adobe pdf files, and all read/only.

Maybe it's because the World Golf Championships are trying to curb gambling on brackets, a la the NCAA Men's hoops tourney, I don't know.

Aside from scanning the picks I made from a printable version, I'll have to find a way to get creative about it.

Until then, I've wasted too much time and need to go to work. :(

Accenture Match Play - Preview

Here it is - THE BRACKET.

It's not March Madness yet, that glorious time of the year when 64 college basketball teams try to beat each other up until there's only one left standing.

No, it's February Madness, when the top 64 ranked professional golfers in the world are seeded and paired, and over the course of 5 days and 126 holes each will try and navigate the tournament bracket to come out as the victor in a 36-hole final match on Sunday.

Yes, this is match play. Each hole is played as its own entity, and each round consists of matches between two players. The player that wins more holes than the other before finishing all eighteen holes is declared the winner. If the players end up tied, they go back to the first hole and continue playing until either player wins a hole.

Scoring is kept by determining how far up one player is over the other - if you've won 4 holes, and your opponent has won 3, then you are 1UP. If each player has won the same or halved (tied) as many holes, the score is deemed "All Square," or again, tied.

It sounds more complicated than it is, and it makes for one of the best PGA tournaments of the year.

I've been saying all week that I think Tiger will win - I don't expect to see a whole lot of rust, and Tiger is just too good at taking moments and making them memorable. A win after nine-months of recovery from knee surgery, 9 months after winning the US Open on a broken leg, would be a pretty good bookend.

I'll have more regarding the breakdown of the bracket throughout the day. Do what you can to watch the coverage this week, it's always an exciting event to follow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Northern Trust Open - Review

I was out of town for the weekend, so I'm sorry I didn't get any updates on the board.

Phil got his first win of the year, and the 35th of his career. There's no use trying to compare the win total to Tiger, Vijay, or anyone else - Phil is one of the best to ever hold a golf club, and he should be regarded as such.

The final round did have more drama than I had expected, but he had to live up to his nickname, didn't he?

Everyone and their brothers were probably rooting for Freddy - I know I was. And I would've liked to have seen Steve Striker get on the board early this year.

The week was Phil's, though, and I wonder if he came out so strong in the first round to try and win the event to make a statement for this week's Accenture Match Play. You might think if he wanted to really send a message to Tiger he would've started stronger this year - perhaps he really was having issues with his game, most likely from the swing changes Butch Harmon is trying to implement.

A fine performance from Phil overall, his short game looks VERY good. He looked much more confident with the putter this weekend.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Northern Trust Open - Rd. 1 Review

I hate the name of this tournament, especially because it's being played at Riviera. Shouldn't Riviera be in the name of the tournament, kind of like Pebble Beach is?

Yes, it should.

On to more urgent matters, though. Phil Mickelson showed up and decided to play golf yesterday, shooting an eight-under par 63 to lead all players.

ESPN: Northern Trust Open 1st Round Review

Coming off a missed cut at last week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (see how nice that looks?) Phil "The Thrill" decided to sit on the better side of par, for at least one round.

Phil is the defending champion, so I expect a good week from him. A win here and he's back in form, ready for a possible show down with Tiger next week (although nothing ever goes the way we want it to in match play.)

There are a lot of players lurking already this week. Last week's winner Dustin Johnson and Jim Furyk sit a few strokes back, with more behind them. Hopefully this week's finish will be better than last week's - you know, like, they get all 72 holes in.

Tiger's Back

If you were alive yesterday and happened upon a sports network, television or otherwise, then you're aware that Tiger Woods will be returning to the PGA Tour at next week's Accenture Match Play.

It's big news, but to be without him in the spotlight for just less than a year and have him monopolize media coverage after his announcement yesterday was kind of overwhelming. There is no other bigger story in golf than anything that pertains to Tiger. He is the best the game has seen, and until he retires, and if no one else comes along to challenge him, he will remain the big lead.

I expect him to win next week, and maybe struggle a bit in the next stroke play event he plays, which would most likely be the WBC event at Doral. The fact that the tournament next week is match play must have factored in to his decision making, because he focus on one player every day and try to win consecutive 18-hole matches rather than dive back in to 72 holes of medal play.

He has plenty of time, though, to get his tournament legs in shape for the second week in April at Augusta. Five more majors left to pass Jack. Buckle up.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weekend Review - Pebble/SBS Open

Dustin Johnson wins a rain-shortened AT&T, and Michelle Wie shoots 73 in the final round to miss out on her first LPGA victory at the SBS Open.

A very anti-climatic end to the weekend to be sure. It's always a drag when weather hits Pebble and tournament organizers need to cut the event short, but it's necessary because the players need to get on the road and travel to their next stop.

One year they postponed the final round a few months and Phil Mickleson showed up and claimed the title, but I'm sure it was weird to get to Pebble on some random Monday to finish one round of golf. Needless to say, this route hasn't been taken since.


Michelle Wie will get her first win - maybe this week, maybe next. It's inevitable. She's too good. Scary good, actually. She just needs the focus and the steely resolve of a Lorena Ochoa or Annika Sorenstam. And, probably, she needs to make a few more putts. Don't we all.

-4 Tiger Watch

And now some more speculation on Tiger's return, this time from caddy Steve Williams:

Caddie: Tiger a couple weeks from returning

Signs are still pointing to The Accenture Match Play as a possible return next week, but if he's having issues walking still I'd say he postpones one more week.

It's not that the match play is a grind, but it is 3 more rounds of golf than the usual 72-hole tournament, if a player were to reach the finals.

Looking ahead, then, if Tiger were not to play next week it's likely his first start would be on March 5 at the Honda Classic. That would give him a tune-up for the following week's World Golf Championships at Doral, which he covets almost as much as majors.

If he makes those two starts, then he can take a couple of weeks off before playing in Arnold's tournament at Bay Hill, then get some rest again before heading to Augusta. Three tournaments seems an ample preparation for Tiger to get ready for The Masters.

Monday, February 16, 2009

-5 Tiger Watch

News I hadn't expected, but got from the Worldwide Leader.

An old friend of Tiger Woods got in print yesterday, it looks like Tiger is ready.

Tiger Watch

I was hoping he'd be back in time for Torrey Pines, but that was last week. My next guess was the Accenture Match Play, and I'd give 3-1 odds that's his first. It's the best scenario for him - match play, 18 hole matches, short bursts of playing, and if he gets a roll on he's got momentum going in to the Masters.

It's clear he's trying to get ready for The Masters anyway, the fun for us is trying to figure out when he's coming back.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pebble Beach, Rd. 4 - DELAYED

The weather has turned, and the fourth round is in doubt in Carmel.

We'll see if it breaks and play will resume today or tomorrow, or if they'll go with a 54-hole event.

Never fun if they can't get all 72 holes in.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Moving Day - The Leaderboards

Here are some live leaderboards of interest to clutter your computer screen and alt-tab through while watching sports on Valentine's Day (until you need to take the lady out to dinner.)

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

No leaderboard from the LPGA, so I've added a link for the website to the list on the right side of the page.

Malaysian Open

I'll be adding links for the Asian and European tours to the list as well.

LPGA - SBS Open, Rd. 2 Recap

After shooting a six-under par 66 in the first round, Michelle Wie followed up with a two-under par 70 to share the 36-hole lead in the LPGA SBS Open.

Michelle, after years of scrutiny, is making her first start as an official member of the LPGA.

Now that she's 'official,' expect the 19-year old to make significant noise on the tour. At least one win is a possibility, and with Lorena Ochoa taking the reins from Annika a new rivalry would be entertaining, at best.

Malaysia Open - Update

Blyth leads Malaysian Open by one

Anthony Kim shot a third round 71, and is out of contention. Decent comeback after the first round 78 at least.

Pebble Beach - Rd. 2 Review

Retief Goosen has not won a golf tournament on the PGA tour since the 2005 Invitational.

It may be difficult to believe that the owner of two U.S. Opens would have such difficulty winning, but it's the nature of the game.

After shooting an eight under par 64 in the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Goosen took a two stroke lead over big hitting Dustin Johnson in pursuit of gaining a foothold once again among the PGA elite.

Using a cliche that will be replete in posts on this website over the course of the year, the tournment is neither won nor lost on Friday, so there's lots that can happen before Sunday.

Goosen blames his putting for his lack of performance the last few years, and it looks like he's starting to make a lot more using his new belly putter.

I'll have a live leaderboard linked up so you can keep track while watching on TV.

Moving Day - Saturday's Headlines

Pebble Beach Rd. 2 Update - Retief is Back
LPGA Watch - Michelle Wie has the Lead
Malaysia Update - Anthony Kim?

A few stories to watch as tournaments head to moving day. I'll update sometime in the afternoon.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Malaysia Open - Update

Yes, there is more to the golfing world than the PGA Tour.

Chia's 65 good for 3-shot Malaysia lead

The reason for the coverage? Anthony Kim. Somehow he fell apart in the first round, but he recovered nicely.

Anthony hasn't played very consistently this year. I've heard rumors of a lingering injury (shoulder, I believe) so it's possible he's trying to play through it.

78-65=143, Anthony makes the cut.

Nice split, Tony. :)

Pebble Beach, Rd. 2 - In Progress

Pebble looks INCREDIBLE right now. Perfect weather and soft greens.

The golf is pretty good, too.

Why? Because the GOOSE is LOOSE! Retief Goosen is playing great, tied for the lead after eleven holes with Dustin Johnson, who fished a two-under par round to get to 9-under for the tournament.

Coverage just started on the golf channel, so a lot of golf left to be played today. Watching the action reminds that I need to buy that new hi-def TV - there is nothing better to watch on television the high definition golf coverage.


Retief Goosen is 7-under par for the day, and has extended a two stroke lead over first round leader Dustin Johnson.

Meanwhile, Chris Berman is wearing a ridiculous looking shirt, Ken Griffey said he's looking forward to playing baseball this year, although he won't say where (rumors have him getting signed by the Mariners again) and I have to give respect to Kenny G - I hate his music, appreciate his golf game.

Pebble Beach, Rd. 1 Review

Two unheralded players sit atop the leaderboard at this week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in Carmel, California.

Robert Garrigus, playing at Spyglass Hill, and Dustin Johnson, starting out at Pebble beach, both shot 65, and stand at seven under par for the tournament.

Chasing them are Charlie Hoffman, Vaughn Taylor, and Rich Beem, who all sit at six under par.

It hasn't been a great start for non-winners this year - Geoff Ogilvy, Zach Johnson, Kenny Perry and Nick Watney, all winners of PGA Tour events, have claimed titles this year, with just one first time winner, Pet Perez, finally getting his.

We'll see if a non-winner can break through this week at Pebble, but it's not likely. Since it IS a Pro-Am, the rounds are long and the fans always jostle to try and get the best view of Kevin Costner or Bill Murray.

For the uninitiated...

OT means Off Topic, and I'll use that prefix for anything not golf related.

And as far as the numbers that precede posts, it will be like a golf leaderboard.

The topics of the week will be the furthest under par, and the other topics will follow suit.

Until Tiger returns (minus this week) the Tiger watch will always be in the lead. :)

OT #21 Gonzaga vs. St. Mary's

My college basketball team, the Siena Saints from Loudonville, NY, have had a fun and unique history. A few trips to the NCAA tourney, a couple of historic and memorable upsets, plenty of 20 win seasons and a third place finish in the 1994 Postseason NIT.

As a fan of mid-major basketball I have followed the Gonzaga bulldogs very closely. Gonzaga has built themselves in to a major powerhouse in a mid-major conference - and they've dragged along some of their buddies for the ride.

The are in a battle with the St. Mary's Gaels right now on ESPN2, and they were supposed to have won this game, with the Gaels star Patty Mills injured for the rest of the season.

But in college basketball, when all things may seem equal or are evidently mis-matched, the home team still has an advantage. St. Mary's has a three point lead at home with fifteen minutes left. We'll see if the Gaels can hang on, or if Gonzaga will get another quality win.


An incredible game still - St. Mary's hits three 3 point shots in a row to take the lead 58-56, but now the Zags are on top 60-58 with 7:31 remaining.


A thrilling finish, Gonzaga holds on for a 72-70 win. They stand at 9-0 in the West Coast Conference, and unless St. Mary's can get a couple of convincing wins the rest of the year it looks like the WCC may be a one bid league this year, would would be good for Siena and the MAAC.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

-5 ESPN Golf coverage

Kyle Whelliston, a great writer who focuses on mid-major basketball on his website, wrote for ESPN. After an extremely critical essay entitled 'The Sports Bubble,' and other remarks he made that were critical of The Worldwide Leader, he was let go.

I have no illusions of ever writing for ESPN, but I don't want to be overly critical of their website. You know, just in case.

That being said, I think it's terrible that there is no link on the front page to anything resembling Golf.

They have all the major sports, and college basketball. But no golf?

Granted, Tiger isn't playing yet, but Golf is CLEARLY fifth in the minds of sports fans, behind only the NBA, NFL, MLB, and college basketball and football. The sheer numbers generated by NASCAR fans at races aside, I would argue that Golf and Nascar are ranked fifth in the echelon of major sports in America.

As I start my new blog here, on all things golf and some things not, I would like to have a direct link to the major sports network's online cache of information, whether or not I can get better information elsewhere.

So here is where I begin, on The Leaderboard, making this my top topic of the week. Each week you can return, and before the tournament du week begins I will cover numorous stories involving golf, sports, and anything in between.

If any ESPN honchos read this first post of what I hope to be many, note than I am not taking umbrage, just trying to make the point that golf is due more coverage than most other sports with or without Tiger being in the mix.

I think it's fair to say that most of what I write will contain Tiger-centric material. Over 80 percent in my estimation.

But the bottom line is that the golf season is the longest in sport, it is the most involved, and deserves coverage equal to the coverage it possesses in the sporting world.

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is underway, so I will be covering that this weekend. But come back for coverage all year.

Winter is still clouding the golf courses here in the Northeast, but it is alive and well across the country. Hit the links, make a few pars, and I'll see you at the 19th hole.