Accenture World Matchplay - Review
My form in the Accenture World Match Play has been pretty consistent over the last few years, especially since it was moved to Tucson. The furthest I have gone since it was moved is the second round and that was on the other course, The Gallery Golf Club. Both times on the Ritz Carlton course I have been knocked out in the first round. I knew that it would be a tough tight match against Jeev as he is a very good player; he is player that doesn’t get the full credit he deserves as he plays various different Tours.
I was happy with my game coming into the week - the areas that I had struggled with in the first two weeks out were pretty much sorted out and I was feeling good on the course. I definitely would have preferred to be playing a strokeplay event rather than a matchplay tournament as the former would have given me more time to ease my way into it. In matchplay it is like playing a final round in every match.
I got off to a solid start in the match; I hit the ball solidly and gave myself some good chances. The first hole I made a solid par and Jeev chipped and putted for a half, then on the second hole I made a good two putt birdie and again Jeev got it up and down, this time from 100 yards for a half. I went one up on the third after Jeev made a bogey which meant that I didn’t have to putt. Looking back on the match one of the big breaks that Jeev got was on the fourth - he drove it in a bush and managed to hit it out and into the greenside bunker which he got it up and down from for a half. I was looking like winning the hole with a par and in the end we halved it after my birdie putt ran over the edge of the hole. I lost the next after I pulled my second shot and it went through the green and I failed to get it up and down. From here on we halved everything until the 13th. Jeev holed solid putts of between 4-8 feet on the sixth and seventh for halves. On the 10th I had to take a penalty drop but still managed to make par for a half.
In the end the real turning point was the par five 13th. I was on the fringe just short of the green in two and Jeev had missed it left; the pin was tight to the left so he had practically no shot. He hit a super chip shot to five feet; I don’t think he could have got it any closer. I ended up leaving my putt about 12 feet short and then missed for birdie before Jeev holed his to go one up which was a big swing, as after we hit out second shots I would have been strong favourite to win the hole. I lost the next hole after I hit my second in the greenside bunker and didn’t get up and down; I played the hole poorly and didn’t deserve much more. My last chance to peg back a hole was the 15th where I had an eight footer for a win but again it just missed. We ended up halving the 16th and when I didn’t make a birdie on the 17th I conceded the match.
I was disappointed to lose the match as I felt that I had played good enough to win, I hit a few putts that could easily have dropped and never really got any breaks. However that’s the way it goes in matchplay and it meant a short week for me! I managed to watch some of the golf during the weekend; it was a great win by Ian. He looked like he played great all week and putted particularly well.
Accenture World Matchplay - Preview
The first of the 2010 World Golf Championship events is this week - I am in Tucson for the Accenture World Match Play. Generally it is the top 64 players in the world ranking but this year it has gone down to 69 as the number one and four other higher ranked players are not playing. This tournament has been held here in Tucson for the last three years; for the first two years it was held on the Gallery Course and then it moved to the Ritz Carlton course, which is just across the road from the Gallery.
My record in this tournament is not great, especially since they moved it from La Costa in San Diego to here. Since it moved here the best I have done is get to the second round; last year I was knocked out in the first round by Pat Perez. It’s funny that I don’t have a good record in this event because as an amateur I performed well in match play tournaments. The only reason that I can think of for not doing so well in it is due to the fact that it is so early in my season. I am coming into this week with only two tournaments under my belt; in previous years it has fallen anywhere from my second event to my fourth.
I am coming into this week after making a good bit of progress last week in terms of how I am hitting the ball and also in terms of what I need to work on. I realized over the weekend of Pebble that I need to get back into working on my routines and mental side. This is what I did from Bridgestone on last year and it worked very well; the hardest thing for me after my winter break is to leave the practice behind. I always want to give it an extra few days or else I am not quite happy with it and so it tends to drag on into my first few events. Since I got here I have spent my time working on my mental side and nothing else, as I know that it is this that will get me to perform to my best. I have played twenty-seven holes in practice, nine holes on Monday and then 18 on Tuesday. It is tempting to play more but the key this week is to be fresh, if you are to go along way in this tournament you have to play a lot of golf and so there is no point in doing too much early in the week. Monday I played nine holes with Lee Westwood and then on Tuesday I played 18 holes with Dustin Johnson. I played a nine hole match against Dustin on the back nine and lost; hopefully it is not an omen for the week!
The Ritz Carlton course measures over 7,800 yards but because we are in the desert and at altitude it doesn’t play its full yardage. When you factor in the altitude it can play anything from 5-10 percent shorter but, the real defense of this course is the greens. The course is reasonably firm and the greens are very undulating so it is hard to get the ball close to the hole. There are plenty of holes where a good shot can end up missing the green because it caught the wrong slope. It is a great matchplay course because of this; you will see lots of things happening.
I am drawn to play Jeev Milkha Singh in the first round; it will be a tough match as Jeev is a very good player and will battle hard. In this tournament there are no easy matches and anyone playing here this week is a very good player and will be tough to beat. I know that the best way for me to win my match is to concentrate on my own game and not worry about my opponent. If I can manage to focus on myself and do my own thing then that’s all I can do. The fickle nature of matchplay means that you can play well and be beaten or play poorly and win. It is not about how you play it is just about getting on with it and trying to win each hole and each match as it comes. I am looking forward to playing match play as we don’t get much opportunity to play it as pros. I am happy with the work I have done during the practice days; I definitely feel that I am getting more into playing mode and less into the technical side of things. The funny thing is that I have struggled with my rhythm for the last couple of weeks but this week working on my focus has helped that a lot. The key for me to do well here this week is to take it one match at a time, to concentrate on my own game and not be looking at my opponent. As long as I stay committed to my routines and focus then I know that my game will be fine and that’s all that I can do. I am playing Jeev at 9.30 in the morning which is 4.30 in the afternoon at home.