Notes: These guys didn't deserve a ticket home
MARANA, Ariz. – Some prefer it on hot dogs, others on french fries. It goes great on burgers and even with an omelet.
But where catch-up is best is here at the Accenture Match Play Championship, when you always spend the morning before the second round looking back at the wild, jam-packed first round, and shaking your head at all you missed. That’s right, you missed it, or overlooked it, or got caught up with something else - but not to feel guilty, because with 32 matches and 64 storylines, it’s easy to do.
So with that admission out of the way, let’s pause to consider what happened Wednesday, which reaffirmed the opinion that the opening day of the Accenture Match Play Championship is the best day of the year for a PGA Tour tournament.
They didn't deserve to be booted so quickly
• First up, Bo Van Pelt. OK, so he’s not a showstopper, but he plays beautifully and did so Wednesday, making four birdies and shooting 3 under for 16 holes. Unfortunately, Van Pelt met up with Mark Wilson, who continues to do wonderful things below the radar. Wilson was bogey-free for 16 holes and ousted Van Pelt 3 and 2. If there was one thing that hurt Van Pelt, it was his inability to birdie any of the par 5s, while the shorter-hitting Wilson birdied three of them.
• Geoff Ogilvy had thrived here at the Ritz-Carlton GC, winning in 2009 and compiling a 9-2 record. And nothing he did Wednesday indicated he wasn’t ready for another run. After all, 3 under for 15 holes is stellar stuff. Only not when it comes against a kid, Keegan Bradley, who shoots 8 under against you.
• Webb Simpson hurt himself with a three-putt from 12 feet to bogey the par-5 second, but settling in to make four birdies on a six-hole stretch in the middle of your round is good stuff. The only thing is, Matteo Manassero went 2 under during those holes (Nos. 8-13) and pretty much held serve, as they say. The teenager from Italy was splendid, which is why Simpson headed home despite a steady effort.
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Then again, explain how these blokes advanced
• On a radar jammed with 32 matches, it’s unlikely you paid much attention to the 32nd and final game – and it’s a good thing you didn’t. We can report that Anders Hansen bogeyed the third and the fourth and the fifth – yet he was still 2 up. Though he was 1 over in his round, through 12 holes Hansen maintained a 2-hole lead. His foe, K.T. Kim, was simply awful. During that early stretch, Kim went par, bogey, double-bogey. Explains a lot, no?
• Rory McIlroy might not have beaten many players, but fortunately he didn’t have to. He only had to survived George Coetzee, made a difficult task by the fact that McIlroy didn’t make a birdie until the 13th. McIlroy bogeyed two of the last three holes and hit a 240-yard drive at 18, yet managed to win, 2 up.
• Francesco Molinari is another who took advantage of a sloppy competitor, in this case, Thomas Bjorn. “Definitely, Thomas wasn’t a hundred percent,” Molinari said after making just one birdie in regulation, yet winning, 1 up, in 20 holes. He advanced because Bjorn made five bogeys, including at the 18th when he blew a 1-up lead.
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No lead is safe, as these men proved
• Jim Furyk was 3 up through 11, yet managed to lose to Dustin Johnson.
• Bill Haas was 3 up with five to play, but got steamrolled by Ryo Ishikawa’s torrid finish.
• Then there was Rafael Cabrera-Bello, the unheralded Spaniard who was taking advantage of an off-target Jason Day. Getting into favorable position – assuming you think 3 up with three to play is favorable – one of the day’s biggest upsets seemed in order. Which is when Cabrera-Bello went bogey, bogey, bogey to allow Day to force extra holes. It took just one, because Day came alive to birdie the par-4 first hole and win.
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Numbers and other matters
• In 32 matches, the player who had the better seed lost 15 times. Included in the mix was a No. 1 (Luke Donald), two No. 2s (Adam Scott, Webb Simpson), two No. 3s (Graeme McDowell, Bill Haas), and a No. 4 (Sergio Garcia).
• After getting whipped by the 42nd seed, Sang-moon Bae, former champion Ian Poulter took to Twitter and ranted about how poorly he had played. He called himself a “bad loser,” and whether that’s true, who knows. But certainly Poulter was a loser who played badly – five bogeys in 15 holes. Since winning in 2010, Poulter has been ousted in Round 1 each of the last two years.
• We are fast approaching March 1 and Adam Scott has played just five rounds of golf on the PGA Tour. Though each day got a little better at the Northern Trust Open last week, Scott was miserable in his opening-day loss to Robert Rock. Six bogeys in 18 holes hardly is the sort of stuff you expect from Scott.