Saturday Semi Live: Mickelson Gets Ass Whupped

5:10 pm Update:  Nice visuals of the Austin course.  Great weather.  Looks fantastic on the television screen.

Worst WGC Match Play in history?  Yes.  Hands down.

Not a single player among the final 16 I care about.  The closest I have to a rooting interest is Charles Howell III.

Will golf ever recover from Tim Finchem?

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Friday Live Blog

This event has been destroyed.  No other way to put it.

Every change since 2014 has been a mistake.

I once said the WGC Match Play Wednesday was the Best Day in Golf.  I favorably compared it to Masters Sunday.

  1. February was the perfect month.
  2. Dove Mountain was the perfect venue.
  3. Knockout match play was the perfect format.

All have been changed.

One year Woods, Mickelson, and Adam Scott skipped the Match Play.  This, the public was told, constituted a crisis.  Panic!  Panic!  Panic!

Here’s how Wiki describes it:

Each year, one or two top players would routinely skip the event. This issue came to a head in 2014, when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott (three of the top 4 players in the world at the time) all chose to skip the event, with Scott in particular saying he would be more likely to play if the event were staged at a different course.  This would turn out to be the final edition of the Match Play staged at Dove Mountain, with the WGC moving to California the following year.

Adam Scott, of course, is skipping this year.  Woods, in 2014, was skipping to go watch Lindsay Vonn ski in Russia.  Mickelson, after Rickie Fowler mopped the floor with him (6 & 5), stopped playing, but his real problem — so he said, anyway — was with the schedule.  If one also assumed he also disliked the course, still, why change the format?

Of course, the bigger question is why anyone would change anything to attract Mickelson and Scott?  If we’re going to go all TV-ratings-y, Mickelson and Scott were never a pimple on Woods’s butt.  And the only other Dove Mountain event — or any WGC Match Play event — Woods skipped was in 2009 (for well-known reasons).  Changing things to attract Woods was asinine, as Woods was playing every year anyway.

Loudmouth inside trader and money-laundering gambler Phil Mickelson whined.  He couldn’t say he was embarrassed by Fowler and frightened to play Dove Mountain again, so he said he had to take time off to be with his family, and that he didn’t like the format because you might play just one day.  Clearly what he meant was, “Rickie beat the crap out of me.  I don’t want to risk another such embarrassment.”  So Tim “Einstein” Finchem decides to change the format.

Which was the biggest mistake.

I rank the mistakes, with number one being the worst: (1) format change; (2) schedule change; (3) venue change.  Truth be told, I liked Dove Mountain, yes, but there’s no compelling reason why it should be played there every year.  (I thought the sparse look of Dove Mountain stressed the Man vs Man, winner-take-all aspect of the event.  As well, it penalized errant drives.)  The schedule change has proved to be bad.  The format change is a disaster.

So how are things going this year?  Four of the top 13 players skipped (one of them being Adam Scott).  And not one of them did so because he was going to Russia to watch his girlfriend compete in a skiing event.

Oh, by the way.  What do you think of Rory’s wasted week?  In the past, he would have left Wednesday night and gone to Augusta to get in a practice round.  This year, he loses on Wednesday, waits for his Thursday match which falls through, then, today, plays a match with no meaning unless Kjeldsen loses.  You tell me which scenario is better.

As for today, where’s the excitement?  You get no bonus for going 3-0, and if you are less than that, you are liable to have it all come down to a sudden death playoff (which includes a guy you already beat).  It’s a total mess, and I say that as both a golf fan and a numbers/details person.  As a Rory fan, I have to “cheer” for Rory to win and Kjeldsen to lose.  Should that happen, then there is a three-way sudden playoff with Rory, Kjeldsen, and Grillo.  That’s not “exciting.”  That’s moronic.  And frustrating to fans.

Here’s a suggestion: Next year, skip the event and declare the winner by ping-pong ball lottery at the reveal show.

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Thursday Live Blog

Morning Thoughts:

  • Jason Day reminds us real life exists.  He’s a good-natured guy who seems to get more than his share of life’s rainstorms.  People, especially on the Internet, often seem to forget real life.  I saw yesterday where some guy got arrested for sending an image to a guy to make him have a seizure.  Then he posted online that he hoped it killed the guy.
  • I’ve already lost interest in the event.  It’s the format.  I look at Spieth and McIlroy, and I figure them as probably gone, but who knows, maybe not, if-this-happens-and-that-happens.  So they exist in this land of limbo like shooting 80 in the first round of a no-cut tourney.  And there wasn’t really any drama yesterday, because if players lost, they weren’t truly eliminated, but they halfway were.  It’s a bad format.
  • Come Saturday (and Sunday), I’ll look at who remains, and I’ll pick a player or two to cheer for, assuming one or more of my favorites is still standing.  In the old days, I’d be able to do that today and Friday as well.
  • I almost forgot…  Watching last week’s event on Sunday, Rory hit a nice shot out of a fairway bunker, putting the ball close to the hole.  He also hit an intentional hook around a tree that rolled just off the back of the green.  We heard, “Not many out here could hit that shot.”  I chuckled, recalling the crazy comments the golf media once brought out when Tiger Woods hit such shots.  “No one else could hit that shot.” “No one else could even envision that shot!” “He hit that impossible shot TOO good!”  “We’ve never seen that shot before in the history of golf!”
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Match Play — Wednesday Picks and Semi Live Blog

2:30 pm update:  Rory’s round is over; a terror attack just happened in London; the White House is holding a press briefing; a Supreme Court nominee confirmation hearing is in progress.  I’m supposed to watch the PGA Tour why?  To follow inside trader Mickelson?  Hurry, Augusta.  Hurry, CBS.

1:55 pm update:  I don’t get the “pregame.”  It’s sort of a poor man’s live coverage.  Why not just do real coverage and dispense with the pregame?

I note they timed it so Mickelson tees off right after TV time starts.  Rory’s match is almost over; Spieth is on the back nine.  But, by golly, we’ll get Mickelson, admitted inside trader and money-laundering gambler.

Got the lineup from Ryan Ballengee’s Golf New Net website.  My picks are in red:

  •     9:30 a.m. — Group 15: Branden Grace (-170) vs. Andy Sullivan (+130)
  •     9:41 a.m. — Group 15: Brandt Snedeker (-200) vs. William McGirt (+160)
  •     9:52 a.m. — Group 2: Rory McIlroy (-375) vs. Soren Kjeldsen (+200)
  •     10:03 a.m. — Group 2: Emiliano Grillo (-120) vs. Gary Woodland (-110)
  •     10:14 a.m. — Group 12: Paul Casey (-200) vs. Joost Luiten (+160)
  •     10:25 a.m. — Group 12: Charl Schwartzel (-150) vs. Byeong-hun An (+115)
  •     10:36 a.m. — Group 5: Jordan Spieth (-375) vs. Hideo Tanihara (+260)
  •     10:47 a.m. — Group 5: Ryan Moore (-190) vs. Yuta Ikeda (+150)
  •     10:58 a.m. — Group 13: Bubba Watson (-155) vs. Jhonattan Vegas (+120)
  •     11:09 a.m. — Group 13: Thomas Pieters (-175) vs. Scott Piercy (+135)
  •     11:20 a.m. — Group 4: Hideki Matsuyama (-230) vs. Jim Furyk (+175)
  •     11:31 a.m. — Group 4: Louis Oosthuizen (-175) vs. Ross Fisher (+130)
  •     11:42 a.m. — Group 9: Patrick Reed (-170) vs. Jason Dufner (+130)
  •     11:53 a.m. — Group 9: Brooks Koepka (+115) vs. Kevin Kisner (-150)
  •     12:04 p.m. — Group 8: Alex Noren (-175) vs. Thongchai Jaidee (+135)
  •     12:15 p.m. — Group 8: Francesco Molinari (-150) vs. Bernd Wiesberger (+115)
  •     12:26 p.m. — Group 16: Matt Kuchar (-150) vs. Brendan Steele (+120)
  •     12:37 p.m. — Group 16: Tommy Fleetwood (-155) vs. Zach Johnson (+120)
  •     12:48 p.m. — Group 1: Dustin Johnson (-260) vs. Webb Simpson (+190)
  •     12:59 p.m. — Group 1: Jimmy Walker (-115) vs. Martin Kaymer (-115)
  •     1:10 p.m. — Group 11: Danny Willett (-185) vs. K.T. Kim (+145)
  •     1:21 p.m. — Group 11: Russell Knox (-140) vs. Bill Haas (+110)
  •     1:32 p.m. — Group 6: Justin Thomas (-200) vs. Chris Wood (+160)
  •     1:43 p.m. — Group 6: Matt Fitzpatrick (-155) vs. Kevin Na (+120)
  •     1:54 p.m. — Group 14: Phil Mickelson (-225) vs. Si Woo Kim (+170)
  •     2:05 p.m. — Group 14: J.B. Holmes (-125) vs. Daniel Berger (-105)
  •     2:16 p.m. — Group 3: Jason Day (-190) vs. Pat Perez (+150)
  •     2:27 p.m. — Group 3: Marc Leishman (-140) vs. Lee Westwood (+110)
  •     2:38 p.m. — Group 10: Tyrrell Hatton (-175) vs. Charles Howell III (+135)
  •     2:49 p.m. — Group 10: Rafa Cabrera Bello (-170) vs. Jeunghun Wang (+130)
  •     3 p.m. — Group 7: Sergio Garcia (-185) vs. Shane Lowry (+145)
  •     3:11 p.m. — Group 7: Jon Rahm (-200) vs. Kevin Chappell (+160)
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Half-Hearted Time Travel Semi Live Blog of Match Play Selection Show

The convoluted title is my way of saying I completely forgot about the groupings show last night.  As luck would have it, I woke up this morning just as a replay is beginning.

The live audience seems like an improvement.  Brandel Chamblee is one of the two panelists, however, so that is a negative.  Rosaforte might be a decent foil.  Uh, no.  One of Rosaforte’s first sentences is about Tiger Woods.  Oh, no, Kara is live from a swimming pool on the UT campus or somesuch.  No idea why that is necessary.

The audience is wearing thin.  Michael Dell is on.  I like him; he created a real company.  Seven minutes in and they start picking.  Not bad at all.

This show is horrible.  Now Jordan Spieth has come out.  Hey, he’s not bad.  Makes funny remark about Ryan Moore.  Two Japanese in Jordan’s group, and neither is Matsuyama (nor Ryo Ishikawa).  Didn’t realize Japan, one of my very favorite nations, had become such a strong presence in pro golf.  Jordan is a good interview.  Relaxed and makes interesting, relevant golf points.  Next up is Rory, they say.

I’ll make coffee during the commercial break.

Frankly, I preferred the automatic matchup process.  The March Madness selection process is designed to make the seedings as true as possible.  This method takes true seedings and screws them up.

Rory gets a tough draw, if you ask me.  Rory on stage wearing what… an Air Nike t-shirt with “Nike” painted over.  Funny if that’s what it is.  GC puts a graphic over it, so who knows.  [Editor’s Note: It said “AIR MAX.”]

The American golf media makes way, way, way too much noise about the Ryder Cup.  While on the subject of too much noise, the word “gym” needs to be banned from the golf media.

I’ve lost interest, I must admit.  I guess it beats the 100,000th showing of “Tin Cup” or a block of Feherty reruns, but the commercials-to0substance ratio is way too low.

Tom Kite comes out.  Nice touch.  He was a classy player.  I was once standing around a tee box with some others at a tournament when Kite’s group arrived.  He made friendly, quiet small talk with us.

It dawns on me that there are going to be sixteen groups.  Life is too short for this crap.  Especially when (1) I don’t really care, and (2) I can look at the full pairings online because this is a replay.

Let’s be honest: I hate the new format.  Three days of crap, then win-or-go-home match play — with a good chance many of your favorite players are not playing.

I understand the challenges of the format, but if the U.S. is incapable of holding a proper match play event, move it to Europe.  They hold a regular true match play event every year.

Finchem took the greatest event in pro golf and ruined it — all because Phil Mickelson, an admitted inside trader and money-laundering gambler, whined.

The PGA Tour is falling apart faster than Tiger Woods’s body.  Thanks, Tim.  (Some of the falling apart is welcome; I still maintain the FedEx Cup “playoffs” are in their swan song season.)


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Monday Morning Madness

What a day!

  1. Match Play Announcement Day — who will be in the Group of Death!
  2. Tiger Woods on Good Morning America!  Will he announce he’s playing Augusta!

Stay tuned!  [Editotial Note: I don’t know if the reveal drawing is this morning, noon, or night.  (It’s tonight, I just learned.)  I went to Golf Channel’s home page, and search for “match play.”  Got nothing.  The page was unreadable with gigantic photos taking up entire screens.  What garbage.  I went to Wiki, and it had empty brackets and said pool drawing was today, so at least we know it hasn’t taken place yet.  By the way, Finchem moved this event and changed the format because Mickelson was skipping it.  Well, this year, not playing: Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Adam Hadwin and Rickie Fowler.  Four of the top thirteen players not playing.  This has got to be the weakest field ever!  Restore the original format!  Move it back to February and Dove Mountain!  Golf fans, stop buying the bullshite the Golf Powers shovel.]

Hey, by the way, I coined the term “Tex-Mex Swing.”  Google for that exact phrase and see what comes up.

  • Boorish move by admitted inside trader Phil Mickelson not to play in Arnie’s event.  Let’s hope Mickelson makes an early exit from the Match Play.  Oh, that’s right, Finchem changed the format so Mickelson could last more than one day.
  • Gutsy move by an ailing Tiger Woods to face the media on live big-time national television this morning.  Like Arnie — and unlike Mickelson — Tiger puts the fans first.  I hope he announces a Kindle price reduction for his new book, so I can buy it.
  • Hard to believe the Masters is only two weeks away.  Sadly, though, they’re going to have to start using plastic flowers before long — unless we do something to reverse man-caused Climate Change.  Fifty weeks a year, some of us cultivate our gardens for two amazing weeks of azalea blossoms in the spring.  Then we get stomped on by the the extravagant carbon footprints of a minority of selfish world citizens.
  • Is Woods delaying the announcement of no Masters in order to maintain more interest in his book?  Would he drag it out until Masters Monday when he would be seen hobbling around?  You know, frankly, if he wants to do that, more power to him.  In theory, Nick Faldo could play if he wanted, so I don’t know why the media hounds Woods like they do, in comparison to a Faldo who certainly could play.
  • Tour Confidential had a question today about Muirfield voting to accept women as members.  The responding reporters all blasted Muirfield, but I gotta be honest: I don’t see any big problem with a private club including or excluding whomever they want.  Basically, in today’s world, if a group is white men, it’s bad, bad, bad.   But all other groups are fine, and even noble and brave.  If people would calm their emotions and look at the matter rationally, they’d see the inanity.  But, alas, it’s all politics, isn’t it?  Should Miss America change its name to Person America and include men?  Women can play men’s pro events, but men can’t play women’s pro events.  Use logic, people.  Differences exist in the world, and they can’t logically be ignored.  Just live by the Golden Rule and stop looking for insult in every word and action.
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Sunday Semi Live

Senior Tour Update:  This Stricker-Lehman duel ain’t half bad!  I’d like to see Stricker win a bunch of cash on the Senior Tour.  He’s a good guy.  Used to be 50-year-olds raked in the cash for a couple of years.  Hale Irwin comes to mind.  Actually, I guess Bernhard Langer has been doing it for the past few years.  Charlie Rymer joins the battle next year!

5:50 pm Update:  Leishman wins.  Rory knows what he’s doing.  Never up, never in.  Sure he missed the comebacker on No. 18, but he needed a birdie.  Par vs bogey not of much import.  Maybe Rory can win another Match Play this week.  Things are looking up in the golf world!

Poulter, in danger of losing his card, needed a good finish but didn’t get much going.  Harold Varner III struggled and threw away a lot of cash and OWGR rungs with a disappointing +5.

P.S. I still don’t like the watered-down Match Play format.

4:01 pm Update:  I guess the problem with my suggested strategy is that Leishman and Hadwin and some others still have something to say about the winning score, too.  This is really getting good.

3:36 pm Update:  I’m thinking Rory should become slightly more cautious at this point.  Give the leaders a chance to fall back to him.  They are starting to look shaky and  vulnerable.  It’s starting to get good!

12:30 pm UpdateBreaking News on Tiger Woods!  Tiger Woods will appear on ABC’s Good Morning America tomorrow morning.  This is in apparent conflict with the Match Play reveal show on Golf Channel.

Morning Line:  Well, about what one would expect.  Two players broke away a little bit, so likely Rory will need them to struggle a bit to have a chance.  Rory is T8, two shots out of third, which sounds fine.  However, the two T1 players sit five better, which is a pretty sizable gap to close in one day.  A round of -3 or -4 by either of them probably locks out Rory.

There’s something I don’t get.  NBC and Golf Channel short-change Rory on coverage.  He’s the most accomplished player going, but they treat him with little more regard than a player fresh off the Nike Tour.  (What the heck do they call the minor league Tour these days?  I’m drawing a blank.)

Good to see Harold Varner having a solid tourney.  Rory and Rickie are getting talked about heading into today’s final round, but Varner is level with Fowler, one back of Rory.  I looked at Varner’s OWGR stats, and he seems to be something of a feast-or-famine player.  I wasn’t aware until hearing during yesterday’s broadcast that he won in Australia last December.  Perusing his OWGR info, I thought of a prop bet: Next black player to play in the Masters.

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