By Brian O’Hare
IT’S been fun watching the opening days of the 2015 World Golf Championships Cadillac Match Play but I must admit to somewhat missing the previous Arizona desert location that brought us so many great shots out of the cactus.
No doubt the players basking in mostly sunny weather at the TPC Harding Park in San Francisco aren’t missing some of the freezing conditions experienced in recent years at Dove Mountain and are walking round in short sleeves rather than looking like extras from a Scott of Antarctica movie.
Unfortunately, the cactus won’t be the only thing missing from the weekend coverage however, with Australia’s top seeds Jason Day, the defending champion, and Adam Scott, who can’t seem to sink a putt to save himself, already out of the final 16.
Under the new round-robin format, as opposed to the previous instant knockout system, players get at least three matches in the opening three days to make the weekend finals.
Day and Scott have both lost their two opening matches so their third rounds (on Saturday Aussie time) are dead rubbers, for themselves at least.
The good news is that Marc Leishman, John Senden and Matt Jones are all still in with a chance.
Senden’s 4&3 win over Bill Haas in the second round guarantees him a place in the final 16 no matter the result of his third round clash with Brendon Todd. He beat third seed Henrik Stenson in 19 holes in the first round.
“I’m going to reserve the energy tomorrow and Brendon Todd is a world class player and we’re good friends,” Senden said after his round. “Go out there and just prepare on the golf course and have another good look at it and get ready for Saturday morning.”
Leishman has defeated Justin Rose 3&2 and Ryan Palmer 4&3 and will advance directly if he beats India’s Anirban Lahiri Saturday. Otherwise he may be in a sudden death playoff.
Matt Jones lost to Dustin Johnson 3&1 in the first round but beat last year’s heroic runner-up Victor Dubuisson (the Frenchman was obviously missing the cactus as well) today. He needs to beat an Aussie nemesis in Charl Schwartzel in the third round and have other results go his way. (The golfers are in groups of four and only the top in each group advances.)
In some of the other more clear cut third round clashes the winner of Rory McIlroy versus Billy Horschel gets through, as does the winner of Masters champion Jordan Spieth versus Lee Westwood, the winner of Bubba Watson versus Louis Oosthuizen; and Webb Simpson versus Gary Woodland (all these players have won their two opening rounds.)
Joining Senden assured of a finals berth is Rickie Fowler while just needing to win their matches to avoid any messy playoffs are Paul Casey, Hunter Mahan, Hideki Matsuyama, Danny Willett, Brooks Koepka, Charley Hoffman and Schwartzel.
The remaining couple of groups are more of dog’s breakfasts with multiple scenarios possible – that’s almost got to mean Sergio Garcia is one of the two extra finalists from the eight possible contenders.
Fox Sports Australian TV Times
Saturday: 7:00am – 12:00pm
Sunday: 5:00am – 1:00pm
Monday: 4:00am – 8:00am