Match Play has been highlighted by the 'comeback kids'
Friday, February 21, 2014
MARANA, Ariz. – After 48 games over two days, the Accenture Match Play Championship is left with a party of 16, as two-thirds of the invited guests have left Dove Mountain.
But while 16 seemingly cannot stir the sort of commotion that 64 did on Wednesday, there is plenty of intrigue remaining as eight matches are set for Friday’s third round. One of the 16 still standing is Graeme McDowell and if you’ve followed along thus far, you’d be willing to award him the title of “Comeback Kid,” and for good reason. After all, in two victories McDowell has played 37 holes and led for just two of them – at the final hole against Gary Woodland and then against Hideki Matsuyama; he has trailed for 33 of those holes.
PHOTOS: WGC-Accenture Match Play, Rd. 2
See the action and emotion (and some desert scenery) from Thursday's second round of the PGA Tour's 2014 WGC-Accenture Match Play at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
It’s not the sort of blueprint one would suggest for taking on this Accenture challege, but McDowell is not alone. The majority of the remaining 16 players have had to mount comebacks somewhere over the last two days, so you might want to hold off before you nominate the Northern Irishman for “Comeback Kid.”
A glance at those who have traveled the rally road somewhere in Rounds 1 and 2:
• McDowell was 3 down with three to play against Woodland, then won four holes in a row. Against Matsuyama, McDowell was 2 down through 14, but won the 15th, 17th, and 18th holes.
• Of those still alive, Jason Dufner is second to McDowell in number of holes in which he’s trailed. Dufner has led for just three of his 36 holes, he’s trailed for 24. He was 3 down through 13 in Round 1 against Scott Stallings and 2 down through eight against Matteo Manassero in Round 2.
• Sergio Garcia is next in the “holes trailed” department, having been behind after 20 of his 39 holes. He’s led for just seven holes and was 2 down at one point against Marc Leishman and Bill Haas.
• Jason Day? He’s still alive, even though he’s trailed for 18 of his 40 holes. The Aussie has only led for eight. His biggest deficit was 3 down through 10 in Round 2 against Billy Horschel.
• McDowell’s third-round foe, Hunter Mahan, has also played for behind. He’s trailed for 15 of his 34 holes, but his biggest deficit was just 1 down through 14 in Round 2 against Richard Sterne.
• If McDowell feels fortunate to still be in the mix, how about Ernie Els? He’s played 39 holes, has led for just six, trailed for 15, and he was 1 down through 16 against Justin Rose in Round 2.
• Jim Furyk is next in the “holes trailed” department, with 13. He’s been 2 down in each of his matches, though never after the 11th hole. But in holes 11-17, Furyk has posted 13 scores over two days, going 4-under and bogey-free, which is a recipe that will serve you in case you need a comeback.
Not everyone has had to travel the comeback trail, however. Of the 16 players still alive, only one has never trailed, the unheralded 23-year-old Frenchman, Victor Dubuisson. He’s led for 29 of his 31 holes in defeating Kevin Streelman and Peter Hanson.
Harris English has been similarly dominant, having trailed for just one of the 34 he’s played. Of course, when that 1 down is after 15 holes against the formidable Rory McIlroy, as it was for English in Round 2, then you need to consider that a comeback, too.