WGC Accenture Match Play Third Round Thoughts

PhotobucketAs much as I like Match play as a whole, yesterday was an example of what can go wrong from a television point of view. Only one of the third round matches was somewhat competitive:

John Senden vs Sang Moon Bae. That came down to the last with Bae winning 1 up. For all that he is the youngest player in the in the field, Bae has shown remarkable poise.

We’re going to see a lot more of Sang Moon Bae, I think. He was by no means dominant, but against the veteran Senden, he looked like a solid player, well able to hold against the world’s best talent. Noteworthy: Bae has made all four of his cuts this year on Tour after finishing T8 at Q School.

Meanwhile, in the ugly defeat category:

Peter Hanson dispatched Brandt Snedeker 5 and 3. Snedeker was down four early, but tried a comeback starting on eight. It was to no avail. Hanson has yet to trail after 46 holes this week; he’s led on 43 of those.

Hunter Mahan got rid of Steve Stricker 5 and 3. Mahan didn’t trail after making a birdie on the par five second. The two had previously faced off in the 2008 Match Play Championship, with Stricker winning after 20 holes.

And the convincing victories:

Mark Wilson dispatched Dustin Johnson 4 and 3. I had big hopes for Dustin Johnson, but Mark Wilson dispatched him for the second straight year. wilson got three up by the fifth and Johnson never closed the gap. Wilson’s on a bit of a hot streak. He’s won three Tour events since 2011.

Matt Kuchar got rid of Martin Kaymer 4 and 3. This is Kuchar’s second straight year in the quarterfinals. He’s getting better as the week goes on. He finished the first round in 18, then 16 in round 2 and closed this one out in 15. I like Matt as a player and really hope this is the year he breaks through to a Major.

Lee Westwood downed Nick Watney 3 and 2. After two years, Westwood turned the tables on Watney. Westwood is looking like a winner. He has not trailed in 49 holes this week. He’s led on 48 of those.

Then finally, the not-really-that-close matche at 3 and 1

Rory McIlroy over Miguel Angel Jimenez. This match looks closer in the final score than it was in execution. Rory never trailed, but he couldn’t put Jimenez away earlier. That’s largely because he really didn’t look all that sharp. McIlroy won one hole with a bogey!

Martin Laird over Paul Lawrie. Laird led the match from the start, and played bogey free golf. He plays Lee Westwood today. Laird now is assured of at least a T5, which would tie him with Lawrie for the best Scottish finish in the Match Play Championship.

Other Notes:

Rory McIlroy (No. 2) was the highest ranked player to survive round three.
Sang-moon Bae (No. 44) was the lowest ranked player to survive round three.

There were five upsets in the third round:

(Matt Kuchar (14) over Martin Kaymer (4)
Hunter Mahan (22) over Steve Stricker (5)
Peter Hanson (35) over Brandt Snedeker (18)
Mark Wilson (42) over Dustin Johnson (10),
Sang-moon Bae (44) over John Senden (41).

The only two years there have been more upsets at the Accenture Match Play Championship were in 2006 (7) and 2001 (6).

Updated all-time Accenture Match Play Championship Records for eight remaining players:
Player, W-L, Years Entered
Matt Kuchar 9-2 3 (2010, 2011, 2012)
Hunter Mahan 7-4 5 (2008-2012)
Lee Westwood 10-11 12 (1999-2000, 2002, 2004-2012)
Martin Laird 3-1 2 (2011-2012)
Peter Hanson 4-5 5 (2008-2012)
Mark Wilson 4-1 2 (2011-2012)
Rory McIlroy 8-3 4 (2009-2012)
Sang-moon Bae 3-0 1 (2012)

A lot is being made of the fact that just three US players are still in the match, as opposed to five international players. There’s nothing to talk about there. Forty two international players started the tournament, as opposed to twenty two US players. The ratio remains the same.

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