Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Put brackets around this week on PGA tour

Peter O'Malley is why match play golf is so captivating.

He's not the only reason but a good one.

O'Malley is the guy you'd never heard of in 2002 when, as the 64th seed in the Accenture Match Play Championship, he bumped off No. 1 seed Tiger Woods in the first round of the closest thing the PGA Tour has to a March Madness style tournament.

The Match Play starts again today -- without O'Malley but with Woods chasing an eighth consecutive PGA Tour victory. J.J. Henry gets the first chance today to be golf's ultimate bracket buster, facing Tiger in the first round.

The short list of the best things about golf includes, among other things:

  • Sunday afternoon at Augusta;
  • The par-4 eighth hole at Pebble Beach;
  • Carts on the fairway;
  • And, match play.
The Scots, who created the cursed game, believe it's the way golf should be played and they're right about most things golf-related (and wrong about haggis).

In one sense, the Match Play is easier to win than other tournaments because a player only has to beat six other players, not a field of 144. The danger, though, is running into another player's hot round. Tiger could shoot 66 today but if J.J. Henry shoots 65 and wins 1-up, the streak goes poof.

Here's a real leap of faith -- I'll take Tiger this week but it won't be easy for him. If he handles Henry today, he gets the winner of the Robert Allenby-Tim Clark match tomorrow.

Best match today?

It's probably Sergio Garcia against Darren Clarke, the winner advancing to meet the Stuart Appleby-Charles Howell III winner.

There's only one name missing from the field of 64.

George Mason.