Any golf nut you know (which could be you!) has probably filled out at least one bracket for the Accenture Match Play this week. The top 64 players in the world are hoping they can out play and outlast the rest and be the 2011 champion. As I type this, the first matches are already under way and I'm almost afraid to look - will my guys make it past the first round? Will it be like last year when I lost almost 50% of my picks in round 1 and didn't have any one of the final 4? (that makes for a LOOONNNGGG weekend when you have no one to cheer for!)
Of course they are all there to win, so next is the brackets - at this level being ranked 1 or 16 in each of the 4 brackets doesn't mean a whole lot...any one of these guys can win at any one time, so maybe it might be a little about luck in getting in right slot at the right time that makes one of these guys the winner. Of course no one wants to be a top 3 seed getting eliminated by the high seeded guys, but that's how it goes sometimes.
I wonder if the players really analyze the brackets and size up their competition or if they just take it as it comes and just focus on their games? Do they play differently in match play or will their usual style be what they bring to the course?
Whoa...having a flashback to one of my greatest match play golf picks ever - Tiger or the field...and I picked Tiger ...and WON!! Woo hoo! He made it exciting (or in my case nerve wracking) but eventually showed why he was #1 in the world at that time. Love that memory!
Sorry...back to my points! As I look at the field and the pairings I am struck by the different golfing styles and strengths of each player - and I wonder which style and what strengths are the keys to being victorious in each match. I look at Alvaro Quiros...the guy admits that he's as consistent as a weather guy (or gal) so does that make him a bad pick? Not necessarily - a blow up only costs him 1 hole, so if he can have all his wild shots on one hole he can make magic on the rest and crush is opponent.
Or maybe it's better to be consistent... to be fairways and greens guy, like a Zach Johnson, not necessarily long, but not usually in trouble - drop a few putts and watch the other guy battle from behind a grove of trees and end up conceding the hole to you.
Do they play mental games with each other? Can they, just by actions or causal comments or just good play, get under their opponents skin and cause a meltdown?
What I seem to remember from watching match play is that it usually comes down to the hot putter - the guy that drops putts is going to be the one to send the other guy packing - of course that means the guy with laser irons stuffing approach shots close will have an easier time making putts.... And, now that I think about it, if the long bomber can keep it in play and has wedges instead of 8-irons into the greens he's probably going to get a better shot at making birdies, too.
So I guess that means the guy with the total package this week is going to be the winner...and maybe the 2 key words are "this week" - we've seen it so many times - someone comes out of the pack - makes every putt and gets every good break imaginable and wins...so after all that I have no idea if I've got the right picks not, because it could be anybody!!
But what I do know is, when all else fails...go with your heart. GO Steve Stricker!
Enjoy the Match Play this week!!
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Filed under: match play, Steve Stricker, Cathy Erickson, Alvaro Quiros