5 Things: Match Play Minutiae
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
For being the defending champion at the 2011 Accenture Match Play Championship, Ian Poulter received an early tee time (7:25 a.m. local time), a gritty first-round opponent (2009 Open champ Stewart Cink), and after a stomach-churning finish, a discouraging result (loss in 19 holes).
All of which brought to mind his chat with a British reporter on the eve of the first round. During that news conference Poults was reminded that it possibly could be a short title defense, that he could be ousted early in the morning. There was a quiet pause, then a wide smile.
“Could be on an airplane (home) by mid-afternoon, I guess. Thanks for that,” Poulter said.
And sure enough, that’s exactly what transpired.
• • •
Frank Chirkinian, a pioneer in golf television, was left speechless at the news he received earlier this month: He’ll be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May.
He earned the honor through the Lifetime Achievement category, which recognized his decorated career. From 1959 to 1996, Chirkinian served as executive producer for golf at CBS and led the network’s Masters coverage. He won four Emmy and two Peabody awards during his tenure.
But Chirkinian, 84, candidly acknowledges that he’s racing time to attend the induction ceremony. He is battling cancer.
“I don’t know if I deserve it or not, but it was always something that gnawed at the back of my mind, that wouldn’t that be great if I ever got into the Hall of Fame. And by golly, it happened,” Chirkinian told Golf360. “I hope it happened in time, because I don’t have a whole lot of time left.
“I just feel it’s absolutely necessary to hang on long enough to get there, even though I’ll probably be in a bloody wheelchair. I just hope not, but I hope I’m there.”
Among his proudest accomplishments, Chirkinian cited changing the scoring system; he is credited with creating the relation-to-par scoring system. And he took pride in his judicious hiring of announcers.
“I liked announcers who were good writers,” he said. “I didn’t like the cookie-cutter type announcers who had multiple purposes, who could do football, basketball and golf and what not. I ended up with guys who predominantly knew golf more than anything else, which I think was part of the great fiber of our group.”
• • •
Ryo Ishikawa was hitting balls in the early morning at Dove Mountain, and surely a small army of photographers couldn’t be far behind, right?
How about 6 feet behind . . . sprawled out on the dew-soaked turf? Three photographers, in fact, held that position for several minutes, securing unique camera angles of the phenom.
Nothing like getting up before dawn to lay down on wet grass.
• • •
Ruben Yario only works for the longest of the long hitters, it seems.
Well, not actually, but going from Angel Cabrera to Alvaro Quiros gives the veteran caddie from Argentina another job carrying for a guy who can hit it across state borders.
With Cabrera having re-hired his old caddie, Eddie Gardino, Yario was back home in Argentina when he got the call to join up with Quiros, the colorful Spaniard. Call it a case of perfect timing, because Quiros won the Dubai Desert Classic, which was a nice way to re-enter. We say re-enter because there’s a bit of history to the Quiros-Yario team.
It was 2008 and Quiros had received a sponsor exemption into his first PGA Tour event, the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico. Yario got the call and Quiros went on to a tie for 28th.
• • •
When Tim Clark, the 22nd-ranked player in the world, withdrew, it opened a spot in the field for No. 66 J.B. Holmes.
That brought something to mind: For all the talk of European stars and the alleged shifting of power, it should be noted that 25 Americans started in the field of 64. The next-highest total for any country was six – for both England and Australia.
Last year, only 15 Americans were in the field.
Then again, last year featured four non-Americans in the semifinals (Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Camilo Villegas, Sergio Garcia) and then there’s this to show how the world golf landscape has changed: When this tournament debuted in 1999, the first round featured 11 matches between two Americans. This year, there were only five matches in Round 1 between two Americans.