Friday, February 25, 2011
The Reports of Golf's Death Were Greatly Exaggerated
Hem and haw all you want about the format this week at the Accenture Match Play (I for one wish there was more of it), but this tournament is great, and how it has shaken out this week might even better.
Tiger? Don't need him. Phil? He's old news. Jim? Steve? Ernie? Lee? No, no, no and nope. This tournament is about something completely different. This looks to be the annual coming out party for the youth, and 2011 is no different.
A year ago, Ryo Ishikawa was the young stud making waves in this event, finishing in the top-10 for the first time in his short PGA Tour career. He showed up with a personalized headcover, face on his own golf ball, and a slew of media members from another country. It was impressive, and as a teenager, he showed us what golf could become.
Now we have another wave. American Rickie Fowler absolutely thumped a friend of his in Phil Mickelson on Thursday, a passing of the torch of shorts for American golf. Mickelson actually commented after the round completed that he feels American golf is in good hands with guys like Rickie, and I'd have to agree. He is flamboyant in a quiet way (I know, weird to think), and lets his game (and clothes) do the talking.
And how can we forget about the 17-year-old Italian? Probably the best story so far this week, Matteo Manassero has played like a veteran, securing both match wins over Steve Stricker and Charl Schwartzel with birdies on the 17th hole. He doesn't look 17, and neither does his game, and I just feel his stock is something we should all be investing in.
But don't forget about guys like Nick Watney. He's taken out Anthony Kim and Lee Westwood so far this week, not exactly a couple of slums in this tournament. He is still yet to turn 30, and just seems to hit every iron shot close.
But the list continues. Bubba Watson is still around. So is J.B. Holmes. Geoff Ogilvy and Jason Day look sharp. It's just a host of players that should get people excited about the next three days. I know I am.