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Friday, February 25, 2011

The Attrition Continues

Match play continues to take its toll. Day 2 at the Accenture saw some legitimate upsets. Two in particular stand out.

Jason Day took out Paul Casey. Casey almost always makes it deep in match play events. I don't know how much match play Jason has played, but he's been making it look easy so far. Day beat Casey 4&2.

Probably the biggest upset came from the Snake Shaker. (I've decided that if Jack Nicklaus can be the Golden Bear, Ben Crane should be the Snake Shaker. Get used to it.) The image from Ben's "exercise video" certainly seems appropriate here, as he took out Rory McIlroy in a blistering 8&7 performance. McIlroy never led in the match. Crane went 1up on the first hole and never looked back.

In fact, most of the "upset feel" of Thursday came not from the losses but the degree of the losses. Typical results looked like this:
  • Rickie Fowler beat Phil Mickelson 6&5
  • Y.E. Yang beat Stewart Cink 4&3
  • Ryan Moore beat K.J. Choi 5&4
And while all the #1 seeds aren't gone, it could have easily gone that way. Tiger left Wednesday, of course, and I've already mentioned Mickelson's loss to Fowler. I thought Westwood would make it past the second round this year, but he fell to Nick Watney. I take some consolation that his match was close -- he lost 1up -- and I believe he shot 4-under in the process, so it wasn't like he played horrible; Watney just beat him.

But Martin Kaymer darn near joined them all. Justin Rose took him 20 holes before Kaymer finally put him away.

So, in case you haven't been able to keep up for some reason, the round of 16 shapes up like this:

Bobby Jones Bracket
  • Nick Watney vs Ryan Moore
  • Matteo Manessaro vs Luke Donald
Ben Hogan Bracket
  • Rickie Fowler vs Matt Kuchar
  • Graeme McDowell vs Y.E. Yang
The ultimate winners of those brackets give us one finalist.

Gary Player Bracket
  • Martin Kaymer vs Hunter Mahan
  • Ben Crane vs Miguel Angel Jimenez
Sam Snead Bracket
  • Geoff Ogilvy vs Bubba Watson
  • Jason Day vs J.B. Holmes
Those two give us our other finalist.

This is actually a pretty strong field with some interesting match-ups, and I think most of these players are well-known to most golf watchers. While it's not Phil vs Tiger or Tiger vs Lee, it still has Martin Kaymer -- who most think should be #1 anyway -- along with a lot of young players and several recent winners. Today's round should be very interesting.

As for the LPGA... well, there's some attrition there as well, courtesy of the wind. As I'm finishing this post, the leaders are halfway through the round. Only 12 players (out of 63) are under par at this point, and the leader Chie Arimura is -7. Cristie Kerr has the low round of the day so far with a -5, which has moved her from T31 to T5 (-3). Juli Inkster, normally a good wind player, is currently +9 for the tournament. That should give you an idea how tough the conditions are. Nevertheless, several of the lead pack are -3 for the day so far, so we'll see what happens.

Of course, there's no attrition at all at Mayakoba... except maybe for those poor unfortunate worms who wander too near the bar. Tequila, anyone?


  1. Quite a few upsets in the Accenture Matchplay with Rory's being the most notable unfortunately. Looks like a scoreline born of a combo of hot putter added to (dare-I-say-it) giving-up. I understand in matchplay that it's not about making a score; it's about beating your opponent but do you have any advice as to how to battle it out when you're having one of those days and things aren't going your way?

  2. Jonny, my usual approach is to forget the previous holes and make smaller games out of the remaining ones. For example, after a horrible front 9 I may divide the back into 3 3-hole stretches and see which one I can score the best on. I've even been known to blow a hole and change to single hole scores. That way I've got more chances to improve.

    How do I forget them? Well, I know that after the round I'm going to go back over my scorecard and evaluate each shot. Did I make dumb mistakes and throw shots away, or did I just have a bad ball-striking day? Since I know I'll need some time to sort it all out, it's not so hard to put it out of my mind while I try to do better on the remaining holes.

    In the meantime, I ask myself if every shot was really that bad. Even in the worst stretches I usually have one or two really good shots, so I focus on those. The fact that I've hit any good ones can be a big boost for the rest of the round. In fact, I've had days where I played really crumby golf and yet spent the rest of the day basking in the glory of one hole where I birdied or even just made a really good par.

    When you forget how to celebrate small successes, your whole life gets to be a drag. Learn to look for those small successes.

    In the end, it's about what you choose to think about. Even the best players have bad days... or weeks... or months. (Just look at Tiger!) But there's always something positive going on, even if it's just that you got to spend some time away from your other problems. You can't forget that this is only a game and not a judgment on your life.

    If all else fails, consider this: At least all your bad shots won't end up on SportsCenter! ;-)