Hot this week? Tiger, Match Play Wednesday. Not? Couples, Haas, Junk Man

Hot this week? Tiger, Match Play Wednesday. Not? Couples, Haas, Junk Man

Tiger Woods faces Charles Howell III in the first round of the Match Play Championship.
Robert Beck/SI


1. Lydia Ko. If you're a 15-year-old amateur and finishing third against the pros seems like a letdown then, yeah, you're pretty scorching.

2. Tiger. The most compelling evidence yet of his image rehabilitation is that he was invited to play golf by the President of the United States.

3. John Merrick. The Southern California native and UCLA alum couldn't have picked a better place for a first Tour victory than the Northern Trust Open. And bonus points because on the telltale 10th hole he recognized that brains would trump brawn. (Charlie Beljan? Not so much.)

4. Mariah Stackhouse. The Stanford freshman set a women's NCAA record with a 61 that included a sporty 26 on the front nine at the Peg Barnard Invitational title at Stanford Golf Course. Move over Woods and Watson, that 61 is merely the greatest performance ever by a Cardinal.

5. Match Play Wednesday. It's always one of the best days of the year. My fave matchups include GMac-Paddy, Mahan-Manassero, Z. Johnson-Day, Schwartzel-Henley, Rose-Choi, Stricker-Stenson, Fowler-Pettersson, and Watney-Toms.


1. Fred Couples. His old Ryder Cup pal Ray Floyd took a not-so-veiled shot at Couples's recent inclusion into the Hall of Fame, and by way of his own defense Freddy raised the notion that John Daly warrants consideration for the Hall. I will burn that building to the ground before Wrong John gets in.

2. Bill Haas. Trying to join the likes of Hogan, Palmer and Mickelson with back-to-back wins at the Northern Trust, Haas kicked away a three-shot lead in flurry of bogeys. That $10 million FedEx bonus can only make some of the sting go away.

3. Junk Man. Freddy Jacobson may be the best putter in golf. But when he had a must-make five-footer on the 72nd hole at Riv to join the playoff he barely touched the hole. That's what pressure can do, even to a hardened pro.

4. Jay Don Blake. He had the lead on the final nine holes of the latest Senior scrum but was overtaken by Bernie Langer, largely because Blake blew a three-footer on the 16th hole. The one consolation for Jay Don is that he'll still be remembered for having the best porn 'stache in golf history.

5. Luck of the Irish. What are the chances that the first round of the Match Play would feature two tilts pitting Ireland against Northern Ireland? Rest assured that regardless of the outcomes of Rory vs. Shane Lowry and G-Mac vs. Padraig, plenty of toasts and oaths will be offered.