Notes: Allred rakes; Watson breaks slump; more
PHOTOS: WGC-Accenture Match Play, Tuesday practice
See the action -- and interactions -- of Tuesday practice for the PGA Tour's 2014 WGC-Accenture Match Play as well as some desert scenery at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
In back-to-back weeks in California, we had players roaring out of nowhere to place high finishes and rake in such big cash that each surpassed what he had done in his entire PGA Tour career.
At Pebble Beach it was Jim Renner, who finished in a tie for second to earn $580,800.
At Riviera, unheralded and soft-spoken Jason Allred did the honors. His share of third was worth $388,600 – and to understand just how stunning that was, consider that 1) his previous biggest check was for $72,000 (T-17 at 2005 Sony Open) and 2) his career money coming into the week was $352,917.
“That’s funny,” said Allred, but it was also more than that; it was a heartwarming story for a true journeyman who has a firm embrace of perspective. While some on the PGA Tour take checks like he received and put it toward a second or third home, the 33-year-old Pepperdine product laughed.
“We can afford some diapers, thankfully,” said Allred, though he acknowledged those who had made this situation possible.
“Really, without the generosity of people in our lives, starting right out of college with team sponsors that believed in us, and a couple years being able to do it on our own and back to an amazing sponsor that I have now, I couldn't do it without them financially.”
The byproducts of Allred’s effort, which was set in motion by a successful Monday qualifier, were immediate. Not only did he roar from 900th in the Official World Golf Ranking to 298th, the top-10 finish got him into the next full-field event, the Honda Classic (Feb. 27-March 2).
Now, Allred’s wife, Kimberly, is due to deliver the couple’s third child the week of Honda, so clearly his spot in the field is up in the air.
“You know, I'm far from perfect as a husband and dad, but I try to make my family my priority all the time. I can't wait to talk to my wife and we'll have fun figuring out what that looks like. I don't think I'd miss my child being born for anything but you know, who knows, maybe we can do both, we'll see.”
Meanwhile, Allred has jumped to 615th on the career money list, with $741,581. That might be a week’s work for some of the marquee names, but every penny of it much appreciated by Allred.
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POST-MAJORS MALAISE: When Bubba Watson held on to win the Northern Trust Open, it meant he had won for the first time since the 2012 Masters.
Good for Bubba, but there are others who are waiting to win for the first time since a major conquest. Now that holds true for Jason Dufner, Phil Mickelson, and Justin Rose – but no big deal, as they won the PGA, Open Championship, and U.S. Open, respectively, just last year.
But Darren Clarke’s winless skid dates back to the 2011 Open Championship, Stewart Cink’s last dance into the winner’s circle was the 2009 Open Championship, and Angel Cabrera hasn’t tasted victory since the 2009 Masters.
A few days removed from his Northern Trust Open win, Watson was asked about the noticeable nervousness that he exhibits.
He indicated that he doesn’t try to hide it, either. Why?
“Anybody who tells you that they’re not nervous, they’re lying,” said Watson. “Every golfer who has sat on this podium has lied if they said they’re not nervous. It might look like you’re not nervous, but you’re nervous.”
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IT’S NEW TO THEM: Nearly 30 percent of the field (19 of 64) are making their debuts in the Accenture Match Play Championship while two – Victor Dubuisson, Patrick Reed – will be playing in their first World Golf Championship.
Three first-round matches will involve a pair of Match Play rookies: Graham DeLaet vs. Reed; Dubuisson vs. Kevin Streelman; and Jordan Spieth vs. Pablo Larrazabal.
• • •
TIDBITS: Some of this, a little of that:
• Bryce Molder was T-6 at the Northern Trust Open, a week after being T-8 at Pebble Beach. It’s his first back-to-back top 10s since 2011, when he was T-6 at the Travelers and T-8 at AT&T National.
• Brendan Steele’s T-10 at the Northern Trust was his second top 10 in just nine starts this year. He had two top 10s all of last year.
• Dating back to the Wyndham Championship last fall, Matt Every in his last 12 starts has five top 10s.
• Matt Kuchar’s streak of consecutive cuts made ended at 30 when he shot 74-75 at the Northern Trust Open. He hadn’t missed a cut since the 2012 PGA. Adam Scott (28) and Jason Day (27) have the longest stretch without a missed cut.
• • •
NO FEAR, ONLY PRIDE: When you get in just under the wire and have to play the top seed, one would think that your emotions would be fragile.
Not so. Instead, 24-year-old Kiradech Aphibarnrat is thrilled to be included in this WGC-Accenture Match Play field.
“So proud of myself. To play with the top 64 in the world, it is very special,” said Aphibarnrat, who as the 67th-ranked player is seeded 64th in the championship. (Nos. 1, 2, and 4 – Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, and Phil Mickelson – took a pass on the tournament.) That puts Aphibarnrat in against the top-seeded Henrik Stenson, but no worries, not even if he’s unfamiliar with the format.
“We don’t have any match play in Asia,” he said. “But you have to be lucky in match play.”
• • •
THE DREAM LIVES ON: So, you want to get onto the PGA Tour? Apparently, so does just about everyone else. Digest this: There are up to 333 players signed on for the pre-qualifying layer, just to get into the Monday qualifier for the upcoming Honda Classic.
Those three pre-qualifiers will be held Wednesday (at Fountains Club North) and Thursday (at Fountains Club North and Madison Green GC) in the West Palm Beach area, but only the top eight and ties from each site will get into the main event, which will be contested next Monday at Mayacoo Lakes CC. And from a Monday qualifying field of well over 100 players, only four will get into the big dance.
Long odds? How about long, long, long odds?
But good luck to all.
[Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reflected Webb Simpson's record.]