Match Play: Seen and heard, too

2011-02-24T00:00:00Z Match Play: Seen and heard, too Arizona Daily Star
February 24, 2011 12:00 am

Zing

Minutes after 17-year-old Matteo Manassero became the event's youngest match winner, 21-year-old Rory McIlroy was asked if the youngest generation of pro golfers felt it might be their time to shine.

Specifically, whether Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson might be returning to the pack just as the young guys were improving.

"I mean, I don't think Tiger and Phil have gotten any wor…" he said.

McIlroy paused, considered his words for a second, and continued.

"Phil hasn't gotten any worse," he said.

Tiger mania

Bill Munson wore a Nike Tiger Woods cap and took off down the cart path along the first fairway to follow the world's most famous golfer.

Munson always wanted to follow Woods in a golf tournament and got his chance Wednesday. But even he wasn't sure what to make of Woods, given his scandals.

Munson, a part-time Phoenician from Pennsylvania, said Woods isn't "quite as popular as he used to be" and said he "doesn't make himself too sympathetic."

Still, Munson was a member of the throng, and still a fan.

"I guess it comes down to skill," he said.

Although Woods is his favorite golfer, Munson won't feel bad finding a new one.

"If Tiger's not in the hunt," he said, "I'll switch allegiances."

Watch out

As part of our annual public golf service announcement, here's something to look out for while walking the course: yard markers.

They're not new - that's what we were told - but the pyramid-shaped markers along the cart path stick up out of the ground. The first 20 minutes we spent walking the course, we saw three people trip over them.

Add that to the list of things to be wary of - including jumping cholla and other wildlife.

Wedding planner

Bubba Watson and his wife joined Bill Haas and his fiancée for breakfast Wednesday, hours before the two golfers would face each other in the first round.

What'd they talk about? "They're about to get married," Watson said, "How many people are in their wedding party and stuff like that."

Watson won 3 and 2 but said it wasn't easy.

"The friendship is always there," he said.

"The competitive part is always there, too.

"As soon as I wake up, I want to be the first one to breakfast. I want to put my shoes on better than you. I want to win.

"That's why I play sports. I want to win."

Tweet of the Day

"For anybody wondering, I am playing in the matchplay, and I did win 3&2. Thanks The Golf Channel!"

No. 1 seed Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee), presumably sarcastically, after the station emphasized Tiger Woods' match

To be young

Steve Stricker turned 44 Wednesday but must have felt older.

There were three other people on the driving range before his match against Matteo Manassero - Manassero, Ryo Ishikawa and Rory McIlroy.

Manassero is 17, Ishikawa 19 and McIlroy 21.

"Stricker was pushing the average up by a bit there," McIlroy said. "So it was funny."

The big number

8

Matches decided in extra holes, a WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship record

Country pride

The old saw goes that international players are better at match play because they grew up playing it.

Wednesday, it rang true.

Nineteen of 29 international players won (66 percent), and 13 of 25 (52 percent) Americans advanced.

Here's a breakdown of remaining players, by country:

United States, 13; England, 5; Northern Ireland, 2; South Africa, 2; Australia, 2; Italy, 2; South Korea, 2; Spain, 1; Denmark, 1; Germany, 1; Sweden, 1.

Quotable

"It probably got my juices flowing negatively."

Stewart Cink, on whether being matched against defending champ Ian Poulter fired him up

Patrick Finley

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