Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Elite 8 at WGC

Highlights from Friday

The field is now down to eight players at the WGC Accenture Match Play event, with Tiger Woods as the last remaining #1 seed. Extra holes (20) were needed for Woods to defend off Aussie sensation Aaron Baddeley.

His Elite 8 match will come against K.J. Choi, who jumped out to an early 3-up lead over Paul Casey thru 3 holes and never surrendered the lead. Choi defeated Casey, 2-up.

The carriage turned back into a pumpkin for the low-seeded Cinderellas: Colin Montgomerie (#15), Rod Pampling (#15) and Jonathan Byrd (#16). Their opponents, respectively, Angel Cabrera, Stewart Cink and Henrik Stenson all advance, with the Swedish returning-champion Stenson making a legitimate case for a repeat.

Justin Leonard is riding that wave with a 3 & 2 victory over Stuart Appleby. As the lowest seed remaining (#13), the former Texas Longhorn is playing the ‘underdog’ part well. His poor start made for a seemingly frustrating season on the tour, one that saw his rankings slip. But 2008 has galvanized Leonard and his positive outing here can only move him up the rankings and propel him to a tee time at Augusta.

How much fun was Match Play this week? Ask Steve Stricker. At 5-down thru 13 holes and seemingly on the brink of elimination, Stricker birdies the par-3 14th and jokingly fist pumps his small victory. The crowd at The Gallery loved it and Stricker smiled all the way the next tee, almost knowing that his match would soon be over. It was and Cabrera closed the door on the former Fighting Illini standout, 4 & 3.

And Twice on Saturdays…

Two rounds of golf are in store at the Gallery today, which will ultimately leave 2 finalists for tomorrow’s Championship match.

What makes today interesting is that players don’t ultimately know how many holes they’ll end up playing over the course of the day, which could affect their performance tomorrow.

For example, Tiger Woods could beat both of his opponents 3 &2 and have to play only 32 total holes en route to the finals. Or he plays a total of 41 holes (21 on his first match, 20 on his second). Who knows how long the matches go.

Like that time at Pumpkin Ridge in 1996, where Tiger won the USGA Amateur for the 3rd time in a row. A 36-hole match play tournament which Tiger won in 38 holes, in comeback fashion.

All right. I’m trying to sneak a little subliminal scouting in on you, as I believe Woods succeeds in both scenarios. He'll beat you easy or do it the hard way. As usual, he's still the man to beat.

1 Comentário:

Anonymous said...

Yet another roller coaster ride for Illini fans. There is only one #1 in just about any sporting event I can think of. But it wouldn't be much fun without numbers 2 thru.....

For now I'll learn to live with being somewhere between 2 and infinity.

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