By petedirenzo
Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sports Illustrated's Alan Shipnuck live-blogged Day 1 of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Read the transcript below. LeaderboardGear Photos at WGC | Course Profile | TV Schedule

3:51 OK, people, it was real, it was fun, it was real fun. I'm signing off. We'll do this again sometime...but hopefully not too soon!  3:42 Uh, scratch that - McG just dusted Stricker in sudden death! Great win for the unassuming Englishman, and more questions for Stricker about his vexing inability to close.  3:15 McGowan just missed a very makable 12-footer that would have put him 1-up on Stricker w/one hole to play. If you're an underdog in match play you gotta take advantage of those opportunities. Expect Stricks to close him out on 18.  3:06  Clark slams the door on Vijay with some fearless shotmaking on 18 and now Nick Watney jars one from the fairway to go 4 up on Ikeda. After four hours of typing I'm still having a blast! (Or, at the very least, trying to fake it.)  2:56 Furyk just closed out Verplank. Both were wearing brown. Their drab clothes matches their games and demeanor.  2:51  Charl Schwartzel is now 2 up with 2 to go against Hunter Mahan. I watch Hunter's gorgeous swing and can't believe he's only one won (B-list) tournament and never threatened at a major. What is this guy missing?  2:35 Reader Martin asks ," Any talk about tweaking the format and adding a loser's bracket to the Match Play ? Sure, upsets are great but I'd rather see the best players play more." Frankly, I can't think of a worse idea. The win-or-go-home-on-the-GV vibe is what gives this event it's dramatic tension. The annual third place match is always lame and a reminder that once these guys lose a match they have very little left to give.  2:28 Karlsson and Sabbo are on their second extra hole. If you're undecided who to root for, read this :  2:16  What a day for the little people: Weir humiliates Quiros, Gay downs Perry, and now gritty, gutty T. Clark has VJ on the run. Just goes to show that chipping and putting are so key in match play.  2:09  An anonymous reader writes, " Shipnuck - you are getting bitter about this TW stuff, and it is getting a little embarrassing, for you. Get over it. If it wasnt for him, for better or worse, you guys would be covering field hockey." More like the NFL, but okay, fair enough. Here's where it gets nutty: " I like the FU to Accenture, BTW." Now that's a Tiger fan to the bone!  1:52  A couple others marquee matchups that might or might not happen: Goosen-Els, Stricker-Ishikawa. Goosen and Els have a very long, complicated history, which I wrote about in my 2004 U.S. Open game story1:46 Lotsa good golf left, but I'm already looking ahead to some stellar matchup tomorrow: Ogilvy-Villegas, Scott-Poulter, Gay-Johnson, Cink-O'Hair.  1:17  I'm beginning to feel bitter about this Tiger stuff. I'm here in a coal mine slaving over the Match Play minutia and the whole world is obsessing about a guy who isn't even here. This is so typical of Tiger: stick it to Accenture with the timing of his statement, and try to control the dialogue by restricting press access and not letting anyone ask questions. Is this really the way to begin rehabbing his image? 
   1:07  Will Lucas Glover ever recover from his Sunday blowup at Kapalua? He just got dusted by one of the Hansens. (Don't ask me which one.)  1:05 Reader Penny writes,"Wow. Has anyone ever blown someone out before like Weir did to Quiros today" Tiger's 9 & 8 over Stephen Ames in '06 remains the gold standard for epic beatdowns. 12:59  I'm really digging this Ryo Ishikawa-Michael Sim matchup.  12:48  This reader comment is so exquisitely random I feel compelled to post it. From MikeZ: " Looks a little lonely in here today! Should be a good chance to get my comment posted, so here it is: Contrary to popular belief, in Steve Stricker's home state of Wisconsin, there is no such thing as cow-tipping. The common misconception is that cows sleep standing up, but they don't. They sleep lying down."

12:39  Sorry, I've been distracted by the Tiger machinations.   Turns out a few non-wire service scribes will be allowed in the room to watch him read his statement, though no questions will be allowed. Picking who gets to be there is a thankless task that has fallen to the leadership of the Golf Writers Association of America. 12:15  YE Yang just holed-out on 14 to go one-up on some Scandinavian dude whose name I can't pronounce.    12:09  Rory McIlroy just pulled off a great escape to down Kevin Na. I just thought of a new saying: Beware the injured golfer. 12:06  OK, my curiosity got the better of me. I called a PGA Tour VP who clarified that Tiger's gathering on Friday is not a press conference. He will be making a statement in front of family and various hangers-on but will not take questions. In fact, only the "wire services" will be allowed to attend. However, I was told that I can watch the live feed at a nearby Marriott. Gee, thanks! 11:57  And you thought this was just going to be mindless drivel! Reader Freddy Falcon chimes in with the useful fact that Elisabetta is in fact from Sardinia, which I have just discovered is an island off the coast of the Italian mainland that has been granted autonomy by the Italian constitution. See, you start with a boob joke and wind up learning about the wider world. I love the Internet! 11:53  Tim Clark is using a yellow ball. Hey, why not? He's proven he can't win with a white one. 11:52  Oosty just described AK's play as "just horrid"! Love it. 11:49  Is Oliver Wilson the most underrated player in golf? He's on the short list. He just dispatched golf's best hairdo, Miguel Angel Jimenez. 11:41  Actually, here's my first thought on Tiger: After the presser, I wonder if I can sneak onto the Stadium Course. 11:33  We'll leave the Tiger heavy-breathing for someone else. I'm more into this tourney. A thought on Henrik Stenson's W/D for "flu-like symptoms": Suck it up, pal! It's not a blown-out disk in your back. No wonder people think golfers are weenies! 11:29  Golf Channel just broke in to announce that Tiger Woods will hold a press conference on Friday. Hmm, curious timing. Think he wanted to take a little shine off the ACCENTURE Match Play, given that Accenture recently dumped him as a spokesperson? That's how the Tiger rolls... 11:25  Paddy is saving par like it's 2008. He's made two all-world up-and-down over the last three holes to stay even with Jeev Singh, one of my favorite players and one of golf's preeminent grinders. I'd be very surprised if this match doesn't make it to 18. 11:21  The Molinari brothers...the best Italian pair this side of Elisabetta Canalis. 11:17  Matt Kuchar: an overnight sensation 10 years in the making. He's very quietly become a top-flight player. If he can close out AK - Kooch is 2 up thru 10 - people may finally start taking notice. 11:10   Is distance overrated? Diminutive Mike Weir absolutely put the wood to Alvaro Quiros! Have a nice flight back to Spain, big guy! 11:06   Here's the matches I care about right now: Zach AS F. Molinari (thru 16), Paddy Harrington AS Jeev Singh (thru 10), Rory Mac 2 DN Kevin Na (thru 13), Cink 4 DN E. Molinari (thru 6) 11: 04   I love that a smattering of matches are already over and some have not yet begun. That's what a marathon day this is. 11:01 (Cali):  The telecast has begun. Nothing puts me in the mood for Match Play like backlit cactus. 

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