Heroes & Zeros: Rory McIlroy Roared, but the Match Play Fizzled
It’s a little jarring going from the Match Play straight to the Players, from the rustic, natural beauty of Harding Park to maybe the most man-made course on Earth, framed by a clubhouse Xanadu. Both are big-time events but the Match Play wears its stature a little more comfortably. All the talk of the Players being the fifth major feels a bit desperate, like a pretty girl fishing for a compliment. The Players is not and never will be the fifth major. It’s a good tournament on a good course stuck this year between two other really good tournaments. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Really.
2. Inbee Park. The LPGA’s queen ‘Bee is back to her winning ways. When you have a share of the lead heading into the final round and then shoot a bogeyless 65, well, that’ll usually get ‘er done, son.
3. James Edmondson. Ryan Palmer’s caddie has earned a cult following competing at the USGA Four-Ball thanks to his vortex-inducing swing. Bouncing the biggest name in college golf, Maverick McNealy, in the round of 16 only enhanced the legend.
4. Ty Votaw. The PGA Tour’s generalissimo of communications is encouraging fans to post 10-second videos from the Players. It’s wonderful that the always-progressive Tour is embracing a new technology to stimulate interest among the disenfranchised... in this case, that would be all those reporters who can’t use the same technology without getting their credential yanked.
5. Johnny Miller. Having him announce the trainwrecks at Sawgrass is akin to Vincent Price doing voice-overs for a horror film: a perfect marriage of narrator and subject matter.
1. Match Play Wednesday. It used to be the most exciting day in golf. This time around it was the most boring day of the week, though Thursday was pretty sleepy, too. And Friday had a bunch of duds, too. But other than that, the new format was really swell.
2. Sawgrass’s 17th. It’s a nice little hole, but after four days of wall-to-wall coverage I’ll be happy not to see it again for another year.
3. Pepsi. Show up, keep up, shut up. In this case, that last bit is the most relevant.
4. Jordan Spieth. He couldn’t match Lee Westwood’s intensity at the Match Play, and now it appears he’s pissed off Rory with his very existence. Given that they’re paired together at Sawgrass, I expect Rory to open with two rounds in the 50s, just to show the kid what’s up.
5. San Francisco weather. It’s always fun to watch pros struggle to adapt to the constant changes in wind and temperature, and NorCal courses look prettiest in the fog. But it was painful to type this because my fingers are still frostbitten!