Accenture Match Play Championship/Mayakoba Classic and Notes
by Matt of Predictem.com
The worlds best teed it up in the Arizona desert this past week as the Accenture Match Play Championship was contested with Tiger Woods making his way through the field of 64 to take the trophy. Tiger dismantled Stewart Cink 8 and 7 in the 36 hole final to win for the second time in as many PGA Tour starts in 08. Woods has a 4 tournament win streak going back to last year, and the margin of victory was the greatest in the history of the tournament.
While the final was less than dramatic with Woods 4-up after the first 9 holes and cruising on Sunday, the matches to get Tiger to the finals were much tighter and pressure-filled.
J.B. Holmes, Tigers first round draw and lowest seed in the field, was 3-up with five holes to play before Woods closed with 3 birdies and an eagle to sew up a 1-up victory. Tiger needed 20 holes to dispatch third round foe, Aaron Baddeley, with Baddeley twice putting from inside 15 feet to win in the late stages of the match. The semi-final match against defending champ Henrik Stenson went the distance as well with Tiger grinding out a 1-up victory.
Speaking of Stenson, he defeated Justin Leonard, 3 and 2 in the consolation match to finish third in a solid title defense.
The match play format proved tricky for many of the lower seeds as they were only 19 for 32 in the first round and the number 1s had a very hard time with the exception of Woods. Ernie Els went down to the 16-seed Jonathan Byrd and Phil Mickelson only made it to the second round, losing to Stuart Appleby. The remaining number one, Steve Stricker, was taken to twenty holes in the opening match versus Daniel Chopra and did record another victory against Hunter Mahan before dropping a match to Angel Cabrera, 4 and 3, in the third round.
Woods earned $1.35 million for the week, moving him to the top of the PGA Tour Money list with $2.2 million on the year. Phil Mickelson is right behind in second with just over $2 million and K.J. Choi remaining in the third spot. Cink took home the $800,000 runner-up check and moved from 35th to 7th on the Money List. With another strong finish, Justin Leonard sits 4th with $1.44 million and looks all the way back from his recent struggles.
Tiger finds himself atop the FedExCup Points List as well, moving up from 9th, pushing Mickelson to second, nearly 1000 points behind. Stewart Cink was the mover on this list too, going from 30th to 12th. Much like the Money List, Choi, Leonard, and J.B. Holmes make up the top-5 with Woods and Lefty.
While the top 64 in the Official Golf Rankings were in Arizona, those outside that number were in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico for the Mayakoba Classic. Brian Gay was 16 shots south of the border to gain a 2 stroke victory over Steve Marino. For Gay, it was his first win in 293 career PGA starts and he took home $630,000 and the winners share of the FedEx Points to vault up both lists. Other notable finishers in the Mayakoba were Corey Pavin and Joe Durant at t-12. John Daly made some noise with an opening 66, but faltered from there, finishing t-60 after failing to crack 70 in the subsequent rounds.
Tiger now possesses a 31-6 all time win-loss mark at the Accenture Match Play. His nearest follower in terms of wins is David Toms with 23.
Woods adds Arizona to his list of states he has won a PGA Tour event in, lengthening that list to 15.
The win at the Buick earlier in the year tied Woods with Arnold Palmer with 62 PGA victories, fourth all time. Now at 63, Tiger sets his eyes to Ben Hogans 64 wins, which he will undoubtedly get this year, leaving only Jack Nicklaus (73) and Sam Snead (82) to pass.