Friday, February 22, 2008

Golf as it was meant to be

Tiger Woods had it right this week when he said match play golf is “an animal that’s all about the moment.”

That’s why it’s so compelling. Match-play golf changes shot to shot, hole to hole, unlike stroke-play golf which changes more slowly.

And, true to the nature of the maddening game, match-play golf can be terribly unfair.
Ask Phil Mickelson.

He made seven birdies and no bogeys in his second-round match against Stuart Appleby Thursday at the Accenture Match Play Championship - and he lost.

Appleby made nine birdies, giving Mickelson the weekend off despite the fact he’s won one tournament and lost another in a playoff in the past three weeks.

Match-play is cruel. Ask J.B. Holmes, who had Tiger all but beaten until Superman started putting into a bathtub again.

Americans have focused more on stroke play and playing against par than they do in Great Britain, where match-play is the favored form of golf. Designer Donald Ross, for example, didn’t put a par on the holes he designed because it seemed unimportant, especially in match play.

Match-play is why the Ryder Cup is so intriguing. Each hole, each match takes on its own life.

It’s fun. Isn’t that the point?