The fans at the Dell Match Play Championship were treated to a great match between Brand Snedeker and Tiger Woods.
Not that it’s news to anyone, but watching Woods in person is like going to the circus in some ways. First, there are lots of people. Walking in a Tiger Woods gallery is a challenge because you can’t really follow him on a hole by hole basis, unless you are tall and can see over most people. Plus, it is difficult to keep up with the pace when there are traffic issues after each shot.
For example, on the 7th hole, Woods is shown here putting. He three putted from 50 feet to go two down to Snedeker. Notice the pathway behind him leading to the next tee. After the players finished the hole, the entire gallery has to wait until the players pass before they can move.
That leaves the gallery to try and catch up, and deal with the gallery to that has already moved ahead of Woods to the next hole so they could secure a good viewpoint.
But as you can see, that is a bit of a challenge, when due to the limitations of the course traffic patterns and the size of the gallery, no one can move along until the players have advanced and the gallery funnels through the available space to the next hole.
The front nine of the tournament layout does not have the room for galleries to roam because the terrain is hilly and full of canyons that limit the gallery to one side of the hole.
So what ends up happening is a leap frog effect when someone watches Woods one hole, skips a hole to get ahead of the gallery then watches the next hole.
Every green is normally surrounded by a gallery that is five or six deep and in some places significantly more. For example, on the 6th hole, Woods is left of the green in a sand trap and the viewing opportunities are limited to basically one side of the green.
Woods played this shot to about six feet and then missed the putt to make a par five. Snedeker two putted for a birdie to go one up in the match. The gallery then walked around the 7th tee to watch the action and had room to secure a good view.
So far the Woods matches have included some spectacular golf and some that was less than what you would expect. It never ceases to amaze what these guys are capable of doing, both good and bad. For example, Woods misses a five foot birdie putt on the sixth hole to go one down, three putts the next hole to go two down and then makes a difficult downhill breaking 25 footer for birdie on the next hole to go back to one down.
Then to top it all, after going long with his second shot on #10 and winding up under a bush, he played a left handed shot from his knees, holding the club upside down. He’s seventy feet away from the hole. With the club almost parallel to the ground during the stroke, Woods somehow managed to make solid contact, roll the ball under the limbs of the bush through the mulch onto the green four feet from the cup and hole the putt for a par to half the hole. Unbelievable!
After tying the next two holes, Woods then dumped his tee shot in the water on the short par four 13th and wound up losing the hole to go two down. Next he drives it into the left hand bunker on the difficult 14th. Just when you think he is in trouble, he plays a 170 yard shot out of the bunker to a difficult front right pin and knocks it to within a foot of the hole for birdie and to go back to one down.
So, now we are on the back nine, coming down the stretch in a close match with lots of people following Snedeker and Woods. Fortunately the PGA tour has had some experience with running tournaments and has placed the hospitality structures so people can walk with the group or get into a good viewing spot in one of the structures.
One thing I know from being in these throngs of people. They feel like they are watching one of the best players of all time and they love being there despite whatever inconveniences they may encounter. The commentary reveals their appreciation for the opportunity.
Fans will cheer a good shot, no matter who they are rooting for but their is definitely a pro- Woods bias. It takes a strong player to deal with all the distractions that go with playing a match against Woods. Not to mention, he is a pretty good golfer.
But today, Snedeker’s steady play and experience in dealing with the circumstances provided him with a 2 and 1 victory. Congratulations Mr. Snedeker.