Category: WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship

February 27, 2013

Bubba Watson: Rory McIlroy will be No. 1 'for a while'

Posted at 5:45 PM by Mark Dee

Bubba Watson has never been one to sweat equipment changes. So it's not surprising that he isn't concerned about a certain peer who has struggled of late after a notable gear switch.

"I think Rory is going to be No. 1 for a while," Waston said of Rory McIlroy during a Wednesday teleconference hyping Watson's upcoming Masters title defense

"Think about it, we change equipment every year," he said. "We have a new driver come out from Ping, you have a new 3-wood, you have new irons, you have a new golf ball. It might be the same company but it's all new. You've got new golf shoes coming out, so they feel different on your feet. You've got all these new things coming out, so I don't see [switching] as that big of a change."

But there is one thing that does bother Bubba: "I think the biggest change in changing a product would be the logo... I'm a feel player. When something is changed like that, I know it."

Watson added that a couple poor results here and there isn't cause for hitting the panic button, either -- especially if one of those results comes in match play.  

"There's nobody in the history of the game that's been 100 percent on making cuts, so Rory missed the first cut... That's why I think match play is such a goofy tournament anyway. [Losing in] the first round [as McIlroy did last week], I don't see that shows us anything. And a missed cut is a missed cut; everybody going to do it. No matter how many times you try, you can't make every cut."

McIlroy will defend his title at the Honda Classic starting Thursday, a tournament he won last year playing clubs with noticeably different logos.

Watson, meanwhile, won't be there with him. He's got a birthday party to host on Saturday. His son Caleb just turned one.

February 26, 2013

Poutler: Match Play consolation round is waste of time

Posted at 12:58 PM by Mike Walker

We guess you could say Ian Poulter was inconsolable. After losing his semifinal match to Hunter Mahan at the World Match Play Championship Sunday morning, Poulter went right back out to play his consolation match against Jason Day. Poulter lost the match to Day to finish fourth in the tournament (and pick up a $500,000 check). Afterward, Poulter vented to his 1.4 million Twitter followers about why he had to play a consolation match that no one cares about.






Fortunately, Poulter had something to cheer him up when he got home.



PGA Tour TV ratings plunge without Tiger, Mickelson

Posted at 12:33 PM by Mike Walker

Tiger_torreyWe suppose you could file this one under "Duh," but, according to, TV ratings for the last three PGA Tour events -- Pebble Beach, the Northern Trust Open and the Accenture Match Play Championship -- have dropped significantly from early in the season.

After a good start to the season, the last six professional golf telecasts on broadcast TV have had double-digit declines in overnight ratings. Sunday telecasts in particular have declined by 43 percent (Pebble Beach), 37 percent (Northern Trust) and 24 percent (Accenture) over the past three weeks.

Of course, before Pebble Beach, weekend golf ratings were off the chart as viewers tuned in to watch Phil Mickelson's win at the Phoenix Open (up 65 percent) and Tiger Woods's win at the Farmers Insurance Open (up 85 percent). The downward trend continued at the Accenture Match Play Championship last weekend after Woods and Rory McIlroy lost in the first round. (Mickelson didn't play the event.) 

Coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship earned a 1.9 overnight rating on NBC Sunday afternoon, down 24 percent from last year (2.5), but up a tick from 2011 (1.8).

Last year, McIlroy made it to the finals against Hunter Mahan. This year, Matt Kuchar beat Mahan in the finals. According to SportMediaWatch, the Kuchar-Mahan match got the third-lowest Sunday rating ever for the tournament. The only two lower-rated Sundays were in 2011 (Luke Donald vs. Martin Kaymer) and 2010 (Ian Poulter vs. Paul Casey).

Photo: Tiger Woods at the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines (Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated).

February 22, 2013

Live Coverage of Day 3 at 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play

Posted at 12:09 AM by live blogged the second round of the Match Play Championship.

February 21, 2013

Day 2 at 2013 Match Play Championship Live Blog

Posted at 2:52 PM by

Mobile users can follow the blog here,

Leaderboard | Pros' Match Play Gear

February 20, 2013

Match Play resumes at 3:00 p.m. EST; Tiger starts at 4:20 p.m.

Posted at 4:32 PM by Jeff Ritter


UPDATE (12:12 p.m. EST Thursday): The re-start of round 1 at the Match Play has been delayed for the sixth time today as players and tournament officials continue to wait for all the snow on the course to melt. Matches that began Wednesday now will start at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time (1:00 p.m. local time). The match between Peter Hanson and Thomas Bjorn will begin at 3:10 p.m. EST. The remaining matches will begin at ten minute intervals after that. With the newest delay, Rory McIlroy will now tee off for his match against Shane Lowry at 4:00 p.m. EST and Tiger Woods will begin at 4:20 p.m. EST.

MARANA, Ariz. (AP) - Bundled in a winter jacket in a chilly tent near the snow-covered driving range, Mark Russell was asked where the opening day of the Match Play Championship ranked among his bizarre weather experiences.

"It's right there,'' said Russell, the PGA Tour's vice president of competition.

And Russell has been on the job for more than 30 years.

First-round play in the World Golf Championships event was suspended Wednesday when rain that came down sideways quickly gave way to snow from a winter storm that dumped close to 2 inches on Dove Mountain in about an hour. The temperature plunged to 33 degrees at the cactus-lined layout 2,800 feet above sea level.

"I've seen snow on the course when I was a kid, but nothing like that on any of the tours. It was crazy,'' said top-ranked Rory McIlroy, one of 20 players in the 64-man field who never even made it to the first tee at the Ritz-Carlton Club.

Tiger Woods also was in one of the 10 matches that didn't start. He will open against Charles Howell III, while McIlroy will face Shane Lowry.

After more snow during the night and morning temperatures around freezing, the course remained coated Thursday morning, further delaying play. The field is cut in half after each round and, with sunshine in the forecast the rest of the week, so it shouldn't be difficult to get caught up.

"We've got a lot of possibilities with this small field,'' Russell said.

Sergio Garcia, in the leadoff match, had just holed a 10-foot par putt to win the 15th hole and go 2 up over Thongchai Jaidee when play was suspended.

Ian Poulter's only other tournament this year was on Maui for the Tournament of Champions, where it took four days just to get started because of high wind.

"I can't believe it. When have we ever seen that?'' he said, taking off his rain gear in front of his locker. "The two events I've attempted to play this year have been three days of 50 mph wind and 2 inches of snow in an hour. It's absolutely, flippin' unbelievable.''

What does that say for the rest of the year?

"Can't get worse,'' he said. "Just incredible. Bizarre. Have you ever seen it? Especially where we are.''

Maybe he should consider himself lucky. At least he didn't play Torrey Pines, where fog wiped out an entire round Saturday and Woods had to wait until Monday to polish off his 75th career victory. There were frost delays in the opening rounds at Phoenix.

But snow?

"I remember one year in Vegas in a collegiate tournament it was sleeting,'' said Webb Simpson, who played one shot. "We all charged toboggans to our coach in the pro shop and he wasn't too happy about it. This is crazy weather. But we've got a great forecast for the weekend, so hopefully, it will melt tonight.''

Poulter was cold from the start, rubbing his hands together and jumping in place to keep warm in the morning chill.

The Englishman had a 3-up lead over Stephen Gallacher through 12 holes, then left the course plotting revenge after European Ryder Cup teammate Peter Hanson hit him with a snowball.

"I'm like an elephant,'' Poulter said. "I will not forget.''

In only 3 1/2 hours of golf, there was some impressive play.

Bo Van Pelt, who took three shots to get out of a bunker early against John Senden, won six straight holes - only two of them with birdies - to build a 5-up lead through 12. Jason Day was 6 up through 10 holes against Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar was 3 up over Hiroyuki Fujita through 14, and defending champion Hunter Mahan was 4 up at the turn against Matteo Manassero.

"It's hard to keep your hands warm,'' Mahan said. "You're feeling of everything just isn't quite there. By the last three shots we hit, it was unbelievable, crazy.''

The best competition might have come after play ended.

Rickie Fowler wound up and fired snowballs from the parking lots. The caddies spent an hour having a snowball fight, though most of the players stayed inside.

That included Carl Pettersson, a guy who tries to see the glass half-full.

"This is one time I have the advantage of being fat,'' Pettersson said.

With delays like this, he might have company.

"It seems like every rain delay - or snow delay - that we have, you just seem to sit there and eat dessert,'' Day said. "And there's a bunch of yummy chocolates in there.''

This was the second time in three years that wintry weather interrupted the Match Play Championship. Light snow covered everything but tee boxes and greens the morning of Luke Donald's victory over Martin Kaymer in the 2011 championship match. It cleared before the match, but there was a brief delay because of sleet that turned greens white.

DIVOTS: The last time the opening round wasn't finished was in 2005, when it never got started because of rain that put just about every hole at La Costa under water. ... The first-round losers will receive $46,000.

Day 1 at 2013 Match Play Championship Live Blog

Posted at 12:08 PM by

Day 1 of the Match Play Championship has been suspended due to snow. Play will resume on Thursday morning.

Leaderboard | Pros' Match Play Gear

February 19, 2013

Bubba Watson: 'I'd rather play stroke play for four days'

Posted at 6:20 PM by Jeff Ritter

Bubba_blogMARANA, Ariz. -- Bubba Watson isn't worried about the weather. He's just not a fan of the match-play format.

"I don't like it. I'd rather play stroke play for four days," Watson told on Tuesday near a practice area here at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain. "You can make an eight on a hole and you're only one down. That's not golf to me. I think it should be, everybody gets up there and tries to shoot a score."

On Tuesday roughly 64 pros warmed up under idyllic desert conditions: bright sky and 70 degrees, with a refreshing breeze.

Hope they enjoyed it. Because Dove Mountain is about to transform into Turnberry.

Wednesday's opening-round forecast calls for a high temperature of 48 degrees with icy showers most of the day. Things should clear up Thursday, but at a tournament known for opening-round upsets and unpredictability, things might get even wilder than usual given the challenging conditions. Watson, for one, isn't worried about the weather.

"There's no difference to me. You're going to have sunny days and you're going to have rainy days. It's just golf," said Watson, whose 5-3 record in this event includes a run to the semifinals in 2011. "Tomorrow you're playing just one guy, you don't have to worry about the whole field, and hopefully you can hit some better shots and make more putts than he does."

Not everyone in the field shares Watson's dispassionate view of the frigid forecast.

"I think it's going to be pretty tough. I think living in Florida has softened me up," said Henrik Stenson, who faces Steve Stricker in his opening match. "I'm not too keen on the cold. It's a bit of a grind."

Stenson, who won this event in 2007 when it was played at La Costa Resort and Spa, added that he's also a fan of the one-on-one battles that happen in match play.

"I love the format. It's very clear what you need to do," said the 2007 champion. "You just have to play better than your opponent."

February 12, 2013

MIA Tiger Woods to play three straight events starting at Match Play

Posted at 1:01 PM by Mike Walker

Tiger_smileHello, Florida.

Tiger Woods made it official that he would play in the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and the World Golf Championship-Cadillac Championship at Doral in Miami in a statement on his website Tuesday.

Woods disappeared from the PGA Tour after winning the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego last month, but he'll return at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson next week. Then he'll begin a busy month in Florida, playing the Honda Classic, which begins Feb. 28, followed by Doral.

If he follows his normal schedule, Woods will have an off-week after Doral, when the Tour stops at Innisbrook near Tampa for the Transitions Championship, then he'll return at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where he is defending champion, on March 24.

Woods doesn't vary his schedule often, but he added the Honda Classic last year. It proved to be a wise choice when Woods shot 62 in the final round -- the lowest final round of his career -- and almost caught winner Rory McIlroy. The Honda is also a home game for Woods, who lives in nearby Jupiter Island on Florida's Atlantic coast. Last year, he said that he enjoyed commuting to the course from his home instead of a hotel:

"We travel quite a bit for our sport, and we spend a lot of time on the road. So it's always nice to have time to be able to play and stay at home at the same time. I think it's great to have an opportunity, because you can have your friends and family come out. We don't have that chance; we don't spend half the season at home like most professional teams do. We are always on the road. So it's nice to have them out and watching and supporting."

The Honda Classic tournament organizers liked having Woods as well. According to WPTV-News in West Palm Beach, ticket sales for the tournament increased 30 percent last year.

Related Photos: Classic Pictures of Tiger Woods

Related Photos: Rory McIlroy Life in Pictures

Photo: Tiger Woods smiles after making an eagle on the third hole during his final-round 62 at the 2012 Honda Classic (Getty Images).
February 26, 2012

WGC-Accenture Final Round Live Blog

Posted at 4:24 PM by is blogging the championship match between Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan.

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