Following a defiant seventh-round knockout of previously unbeaten Jose Pedraza (22-1, 12...
L to R: Tiger Woods & Vijay Singh
MAPLEWOOD, NJ.—As I contemplate the events of the World Golf Accenture Match Play Championships, the one thing that continues to recur in my mind is the term “blue;” blue as in the color of the sky on a picture perfect day, or blue to describe the feeling one may have after experiencing extreme disappointment. Certainly, blue must be the way that two time defending champion Tiger, and Vijay, the number one ranked player in the world must be feeling after they were unceremoniously ousted from the championship in the second round. Tiger lost to the heralded (sic) and household name Nick O’Hern, 3 and 1. Actually, O’Hern, ranked 31st in the tournament and 32nd overall according to the world golf rankings, who played as though he was the higher ranked player, consistently hitting fairways and making putts. Throughout this match Tiger struggled much like he did in his only win this year in the Buick Invitational when he hit good putts but they did not fall and thus ended a streak of 13 consecutive match victories. “I hit some good putts…they just wouldn’t go in” Tiger was quoted as saying after the round.
The story is different for Vijay, who lost 3 and 2 to steady tour veteran Jay Haas. After winning the second event of the year, the Sony Open, he has struggled finishing tied for 24th in the Buick Invitational, 11th in the FBR Open, and missing the cut in the At&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am. Perhaps of a greater concern to Vijay is that his play has placed his number one ranking in jeopardy. He escaped at the Nissan Open because Tiger needed a top four finish to regain the top spot finished tied for 13. What was interesting was that the Nissan was a tournament Tiger desperately wanted to win as he had never won before and the course was considered something of a home course for him. He got off to a good start with a 67 followed by a 70 but the horrendous conditions prevented the tournament completion. The tournament was cancelled after 36 holes and as a result, it is an unofficial event though the money counts.
Heading into the match play championships, Vijay’s point total was 11.93 as compared to 11.57 for Tiger, a scant .36 difference. According to the rankings, it was possible for Tiger to regain the top spot with a 3rd place finish if Vijay lost in the first or second round. Since both lost in the second round we unfortunately, were deprived of seeing the dream match between the two that would have made for some captivating golf; especially in light of their relationship or more accurately stated, lack thereof. Had they both made it to the finals, it would have been a winner take all for the top spot.
Thinking about what might have been leaves me feeling a bit blue. The irony is that neither player was much of a match in match play, but the good news is that the tour moves on to Florida, away from the California rains. More importantly, Tiger committed to play next week in the Ford Championship at Doral. Perhaps Vijay, who did not compete in this tournament last year, might do so this year. If so, we could be in for some compelling golf, and at least this fan mood will brighten like the brilliance of the sun against a background that is blue.