1:10 pm Update: I like the Stephen Gallacher group, although he’s not been on his game for a while. At least he gets to play some PGA Tour names. I think Golf Channel predetermined that whatever group Poulter was in would be the “group of death.” Woodland has one top twenty this year and four missed cuts. Webb Simpson has been unspectacular this year as well. Jimmy Walker is solid, obviously, but I don’t see this group anywhere near Rory, Sneds, Horschel, and Jason Dufner. Dufner might be off his game, but Sneds already won this year, and Horschel is the Fed Ex Cup winner and has been playing okay, if spotty. I don’t know, that whole “group of death” thing, as I wrote earlier, seems really forced. To have a real group of death, it seems you’d need a situation like DJ coming right off his suspension (sorry, his self-imposed time off) where he fell because of inactivity, not poor play. 1:00 pm Update: Disastrous Mistake I’ve seen enough to pronounce this lottery idea a disaster. Rory is rewarded for his #1 seeding by getting tough opponents. Sergio Garcia gets three Europeans who play against each other all the time, meaning we don’t get to see them play jalnichols’s beloved PGA Tour supermen. The new group system might be okay, but this lottery idea is awful. In the future, players should be seeded by OWGR ranking. 12:30 pm Update: Wow, Rory got about the toughest draw he could have. I wonder if the Golf Powers are still liking this new random draw. Would Rory have a better chance of making the weekend playing OWGR #64, etc., in the old system, or with the guys he drew today? Update: It’s Go Time! The selection show on Golf Channel is imminent!. Update: Thirty Minute Warning Geoff Shackelford today wrote of the selection show, “Golf Channel is televising the draw at noon ET. Outside of immediate friends and family there probably isn’t much interest in who goes where.” Maybe that’s true of Shackelford’s readers, but Lanny H Golf readers find great interest in, among other things, the possibility of Patrick Reed playing Harris English (or, to a lesser degree, even Russell Henley). I bet Shane Ryan fancies Reed vs English as well:
Before the last round of his college career, in the national championship against Harris English, a group of Reed’s Augusta State teammates approached English—one of the most well-liked, easygoing players in the sport—with an emphatic message: “We want to win the national title, but we hope you kick the shit out of Patrick Reed.” The trouble for them was that nobody kicked the shit out of Patrick Reed, especially in match play. … Their point [Reed vs English] would decide the national championship. “If you were to go back in history and ask Harris if there’s one match that he wanted to win,” Chris Haack told me later, “that was the match. Not only did it mean winning the national championship, which was ultimately what we all wanted, but just a lot of the…oh, gosh, I don’t know, the way that things always transpired with Patrick…it just wasn’t a very…” Here he trailed off, before concluding, “I want to take the high road here.”
Reed won on the final hole. By the way, Shane Ryan’s book is scheduled to come out June 9. I’ve already pre-ordered a copy at Amazon. Update: One Hour Warning While you wait for the selection show to begin, mull over this stupidstic. This one is surprisingly NOT from Justin Ray. During yesterday’s golf telecast, CBS informed us that Justin Rose was the third man to ever finish second at the Masters, then win the New Orleans tournament. So, is that interesting because there are so few? So many? Why should we care at all? It’s pretty common knowledge that players who finish near the top of a leaderboard are often playing well and likely to be in the hunt in the next few events they enter. How many players won in New Orleans after finishing third at Augusta? After winning? After finishing fourth or fifth? Or in top ten? What is the point of that particular stupidstic? Someone noticed a meaningless pattern and felt the need to promulgate it. Why didn’t the producer reject it? There are ceaseless random patterns in all of our lives. Almost none of them are worthy of comment. If one of these stupidisticians stops at a traffic light and notices that the first car in all three lanes is blue, does he pull out his cellphone and call his wife? “Honey, you won’t believe this mind-blowing statistic!” No, because she’d tell him she could not care less. So why are we inundated with these stupidstics when we watch sports? 10:10 am Update: Group of Death How many times will Golf Channel say “group of death” this week? I’d set the over/under at 5000. American professional golf seems to have developed a real inferiority complex. They are always trying to ape other sports. Exhibit A would have to be the “playoffs.” Another example would be the obsession with “ripped” and “buff” and “cut.” You’d think the golf majors were actually bodybuilding contests. Along with this, you constantly hear how “golf now attracts ‘athletes’ like in other sports.” Every year at the Phoenix Open, we hear about the football-like crowd at the par-3 “stadium hole.” Now golf has raided the world’s most popular sport’s greatest event. The soccer World Cup’s “group of death” has now come to golf. Let golf be golf. Let it maintain some of its air of sophistication, even exclusivity (which is always overblown; my foursome often played shirtless on cheap, goat-pasture courses when I first too up the game). There’s a reason so many “athletes” from “real sports” take up golf after they retire. It’s fine just the way it is. Let it be aspirational. That doesn’t mean aspirational on the level of owning a helicopter or a summer home in the Hamptons. It just means a reward to look forward to in exchange for working a hard 40 hours every week. Only two hours to go! Here’s hoping for a Donaldson, Sneds, Levy (or Sullivan or Fleetwood) group! 9:30 am Update: Euro Euro Euro The official Euro Seven (numbers are OWGR rank, not WGC seed) are: Tier 3: Anirban Lahiri (35) Branden Grace (39) Stephen Gallacher (41) Thongchai Jaidee (45) Tier 4: Marc Warren (53) Miguel Jimenez (65) Thomas Bjorn (not in field) Other Euros in the field include: Tier 2: Jamie Donaldson (29) Tier 3: Bernd Wiesberger (42) Joost Luiten (44) Shane Lowry (48) Danny Willett (49) Tier 4: Tommy Fleetwood (55) Andy Sullivan (59) Alexander Levy (60) There others who are just as much Euros as PGA Tour players. Brooks Koepka made his name on the Euro Tour and just joined the PGA Tour this season. Dubuisson was absolutely a Euro before finishing second in last years Match Play, but now is he (magically) considered a “PGA Tour player”? I think he’s playing the PGA Tour this year, but the vast majority of his counting events are from the Euro Tour. So he would have benefited from the “unfair” OWGR points awarded on the European Tour. Is he a Euro! Is he a “good Euro” like Bernd Wiesberger? Only jalnichols knows for sure… 8:00 am Update: Tiers The top sixteen players are: 1. Rory McIlory, NIR 2. Jordan Spieth, USA 3. Henrik Stenson, SWE 4. Bubba Watson, USA 5. Jim Furyk, USA 6. Jason Day, AUS 7. Dustin Johnson, USA 8. Adam Scott, AUS 9. Justin Rose, ENG 10. Sergio Garcia, ESP 11. Jimmy Walker, USA 12. J.B. Holmes, USA 13. Rickie Fowler, USA 14. Matt Kuchar, USA 15. Patrick Reed, USA 16. Hideki Matsuyama, JPN Think of them as the anchors of the sixteen groups. The next sixteen players, the second tier, will be assigned by lottery to one of the above groups. The same will happen for the sixteen players in the third and fourth tiers. Sneds and most of the Euro Six are in the third tier, which means it is impossible for them to be grouped together and, therefore, cannot possibly meet the first three days. The fourth tier includes Marc Warren and Miguel Jimenez — two of the Euro Seven. Let’s hope Sneds is grouped with one of them. More details to come. 7:40 am Update: Sneds vs the Euro Six We’re going to follow this a couple of ways this week. First, we will take the official Euro Six/Seven. Second, we will also follow the other players in the field from the European Tour. jalnichols, when asked why he skipped over Bernd Wiesberger and Jamie Donaldson, told me, “Yeah, because I think, based on their performance, that both Wiesberger and Donaldson are fantastic, top 20-30 quality players who would maintain their world rank as PGA Tour regulars.” That struck me as odd because they were playing the same European Tour events as the Euro Six. Lahiri’s OWGR points were somehow ill-gotten, but Wiesberger’s were a-okay? 6:30 am Update: Something occurs to me: Could Phil Mickelson’s “personal reasons” have anything to do with insider trading and the FBI? Again, I don’t want to bash the guy if he has some serious family health matter to deal with, but withdrawing the night before the lottery is quite odd. Mickelson’s comment that “I’m really happy with the new format and TPC Harding Park is a terrific setting for match play” is pretty much an admission his absence the past few years was his way of whining about the course — and his poor match play results. Harding Park is not far from Alcatraz. Maybe that made Phil “Dean Foods” Mickelson nervous. 10:30 pm Update: Any Woods Only types here? Is Woods at OWGR #116 a new recent low? Rory not playing Memorial this year? Our Lanny H Golf staff will be burning the midnight oil tonight, analyzing all the group possibilities, focusing on, among other things, Sneds and the Euro Six. Lanny H Golf — THE source for WGC Match Play analysis. 10:10 pm Update: Mickelson out!! Ilonen in! Mickelson withdrew for “personal reasons.” I don’t want to bash Mickelson if family health issues are involved, but I would remind people that the reason the Match Play was moved from Dove Mountain in February largely had to do with Mickelson not playing. Woods didn’t play last year, but he was injured; normally Woods played. Last year the American golf media about had a cow that neither Woods nor Mickelson were entered. Again, I’m not bashing Mickelson when he may very well have serious family issues to deal with, but on the other hand, it shows why the golf world should not let the tail wag the dog. 10:00 pm Update: Only fourteen more hours until the Match Play selections.
9:45 pm Update: Ko Defends!!!
9:00 pm Update: Playoff!!!
Pressel and Ko. The 17-year-old Canadian finished one shot back.
7:50 pm Update
If you’re not watching the Swinging Skirts, you are missing out. The LPGA consistently provides great drama.
7:15 pm Update
Don’t forget the ladies are playing in San Francisco tonight, meaning they are on live right now. Lydia Ko is making a move. Two back with five holes to play. The 17-year-old Canadian is also two back. Morgan Pressel leads.
For the next 18 hours, we will be covering the WGC Match Play groupings and matchups. Lanny H Golf will be your one-stop source for all things Match Play! You’ll be able to enter the Dell Bracket Challenge tomorrow after the selections have been made. Here’s the link for entering your picks. (Alas, you must be a member of PGATour.com; I’m apparently not.)