The Good, The Bad & The Utley
TUCSON, Ariz. -- While Tiger Woods was busy dropping a dime on J.B. Holmes with five birdies and an eagle on the back nine to rally from 3 down and Phil Mickelson was trading long bombs with Pat Perez -- the marquee No. 1 seeds both surviving 1 up -- it was a case of the good, the bad and the Utley for the rest.
The Good: No match was better played than the one between Ryder Cup mates Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson, neither of whom made a bogey. Casey was nine under par to win 2 up while the Swede was seven under and X'd out. This is what's known as the "vagaries of match play" though the Swedish version of that phrase is probably unprintable at present.
Woody Austin managed to block out enough Aquaman references to shoot 30 on the outward nine and drown Toru Taniguchi, 6 and 5. Lee Westwood wasn't half bad making eight birdies to beat Brandt Snedeker, 3 and 2. And British Open champion Padraig Harrington admitted to being "a little jumpy" because his game's not on this early in the season, but he was still six under par through 12 holes to take out Jerry Kelly.
Harrington was up at precisely 4:50 a.m. for his 8:08 match. "It's all timed," said the Irishman. "It takes 40 minutes of gym work and 20 minutes to wash up. That's an hour. That's ten to five. It took 40 minutes to get here. That's 6:30. Fifteen minutes for breakfast, 20 minutes for physio. Three minutes to get out to the tee or to the practice ground. An hour to warm up. It's normally two and a half hours, plus travel. So, three hours, 10 minutes and I gave an extra eight minutes today just because it takes a few minutes to get around the place here." Obsessive much?
The Bad: With the family off visiting the Grand Canyon, last-second entry Ernie Els couldn't take as much pleasure in the view from The Gallery. In fact, Els hasn't been a very pretty sight anywhere this year. Two in the water to lose the Alfred Dunhill Championship, one in the hazard to lose to Woods in the Dubai Desert Classic, a 75 to open the Indian Masters and today a 40 on the front nine to lose his match to Jonathan Byrd 6 and 5. "To be honest with you," Els said earlier in the week, "I've taken some big blows in the last four or five years." And the pummeling doesn't seem to be easing up.
The Utley: Sergio Garcia has turned to Stan Utley, the putting and short game guru, to help him get the ball in the hole but he still wasn't comfortable enough with his new stroke to rely on it completely. Instead, Garcia took two putters out on the course with him, using the short putter for the first 14 holes against John Senden and then switching to the belly putter when the nerves frayed, eventually winning 3 and 2.
Oh, and, just one piece of advice, J.B. If all Woods has to do is two-putt from 17 and a half feet to win a hole, tell him to pick it up. Otherwise, you might just set him off.
-- Jim Moriarty