Tiger Woods was not the only golfer to make a statement last week… Ian Poulter made his on the links at the World Golf Championship in Arizona this weekend. His all-pink outfit captured a lot of attention, but his ability stood out the most as he beat out Paul Casey to win the Accenture-sponsored Match Play event. This win earned him more than one million bucks and boosted him from 11th to 5th in the world rankings. It marks the first time an Englishman has won any of the World Golf Championships since their creation in 1999, and also gives England 3 out of the top 6 players in the world with Lee Westwood in 4th and Casey in 6th.
- #1 seed Steve Stricker lost to Ross McGowan, the 64th seed, making him only the second top seed to lose in the first round. (The first to do it? Tiger Woods in 2002, to Peter OMalley.)
- Tim Clark became the first professional player to use the Srixon Z-Star Tour Yellow ball in competition. Observers noted the resemblance between these new balls and the ones you find at putt-putt places…. only time will tell if they catch on or come to The Cave to get cleared out!
- Henrik Stenson conceded the first hole, and the first match to Ben Crane, saying he was suffering from a flu. This bit of trickery allowed Stenson to still get credit for starting the tournament and left him to finish tied for 33rd, giving him the world ranking credits and official prize money, without actually having to play. If he had withdrawn, he wouldnt have gotten the credit.
- And just 3 days after winning at Pebble Beach the new “next-big-thing” Dustin Johnson struggled with a terrible start, losing his first four holes, and eventually the match to Camilo Villegas.
PS: Did the timing of Tiger’s speech take away from match play? Several people, including Ernie Els lashed out at what they perceived to be “upstaging” by Tiger, who explained the timing was necessary to allow him to quickly return to rehab. Do you buy that?