by Jeff Skinner
1. Sunday at the Accenture Match Play Championship had the players bundled up against 40 degree temps, and 30 mph winds. With snow delays, frost delays and biting cold it looked more like the Iditarod than it did a golf tournament. How they pull this tournament off each year is pure luck.
2. Matt Kuchar just outlasted everyone. He kept it in the fairway, minimized his mistakes and played it smart on the complicated greens at Dove Mountain. On Sunday he was only behind for two holes early against Jason Day before dispatching him 4 & 3. Winning three straight holes on the front nine in the championship match proved enough cushion even with a few slips down the stretch against Hunter Mahan.
3. Even all the number one seeds gone by the weekend, Saturday and Sunday was simply great golf. Ian Poulter stole the show Saturday and there were plenty of compelling matches to keep all of us interested.
4. No Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy after day one must have sent the folks at Nike into cardiac arrest. That’s a big truckload of endorsement money that went for naught on the weekend.
5. We got to see plenty of Tim Finchem yesterday as Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller chatted with him about the PGA Tour’s announcement that they are against the proposed anchor stroke ban by the USGA. Finchem was quick to say that he respects the USGA and no determination as to whether the PGA Tour will ignore the rule has been discussed.
6. The Honda LPGA Thailand was the scene of the heartbreak moment of the weekend. 17 year old, Thailand native, Ariya Jutanugarn had a two stroke lead as she teed off on eighteen. A wayward approach left her stymied in a bunker, she took a penalty, dropped in the bunker and then flew the green. A missed third putt gave her an eight and a second place finish to Inbee Park.
7. The good news for Jutanugarn is that she carded an ace on the twelfth hole, pocketed $140,000 for her finish and she’s only seventeen. She’s got plenty of time to shake this off and may have just learned a valuable lesson very early in her career.
8. Park continues her form of last season: in her last 12 starts she has 3 wins and 5 runner-up finishes.
9. Yani Tseng is back on form and made a charge with a final round 63 to finish T3. Stacy Lewis was low American and she blew a chance at her first win of the season with a disaster on Saturday when she ballooned to a 76.
10. Speaking of teenagers, Lydia Ko continues to make her mark on the LPGA with a T14 finish.
11. For all of us hackers out here, desert golf presents some scary problems. Miss the fairway and you could be ricocheting off boulders, buried in brush and hitting off rocks. Not to mention those cacti that eat up golf balls and jump at you. I would need body armor and a bushel of balls.
12. I know it’s difficult for PGA Tour sponsors and the networks to have more match play tournaments. The nature of match play doesn’t blend well with the standard format of a typical PGA Tour event. So we’ll have to live with the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup and the Match Play for awhile. But match play truly rocks.