Bubba Only Top-10 Seed Left at Match Play
Marana, Ariz. — And then there was one.
One day after Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods went home, more top seeds followed yesterday in the Match Play Championship until Masters champion Bubba Watson was the only seed from the top 10 remaining at Dove Mountain.
And even that wasn’t easy.
Watson, the No. 8 seed, missed two straight putts from 5 feet that would have won the match before he finally put away Jim Furyk in 22 holes. It was the first time since this World Golf Championship began in 1999 that only one top-10 seed was left after two rounds.
What does that mean?
“Nothing,” Watson said. “This game ... it’s a toss-up. You can’t really judge who’s going to win, or bet who’s going to win.”
Luke Donald, the No. 3 seed who birdied his last two holes on Thursday to win his opening match, didn’t know what hit him Friday.
Scott Piercy won the first three holes, and then holed out from 221 yards with a 4-iron on the fifth hole and was on his way. He won, 7 and 6, to give Donald his worst loss in this event.
Fourth-seeded Louis Oosthuizen never led against Robert Garrigus, who closed him out on the 16th hole and sounded as though he had penciled himself into the final.
“I looked at all the guys in my bracket and I was like, ‘I can beat him. I can beat him. And I can beat him.’ If I’m playing well and putting well, I’m going to be hard to beat. And a lot of guys will tell you that, too, because I hit the ball in the fairway. Because these fairways are huge, and if I can keep it out of the bushes, I’ll be all right out here.”
He’ll find out this morning against Jason Day, who overcame a clutch putt on the 18th hole to beat PGA Tour rookie Russell Henley on the 19th.
Justin Rose, the No. 5 seed, couldn’t keep up with Nicolas Colsaerts and lost, 4 and 2.
“I think we’re beyond surprises, in this event especially,” said Graeme McDowell after needing 20 holes to beat Alex Noren. “Anybody can have a great day and anybody can have a tough day. It’s what makes the game exciting, and it’s what makes this game extremely fickle and extremely frustrating.”
“Yeah, it’s fun when you’re sitting in a car coming back from a second playoff hole having won,” McDowell said. “I drove past Alex Noren in the car park and he’s dragging his flight bag to the locker room. And he’s not having fun.”
Shane Lowry earned a footnote in history at this 15-year-old tournament. After knocking out McIlroy on the 18th hole of the first round, the burly Irishman became the first No. 64 seed to advance to the third round. This wasn’t that difficult, as he seized control early and beat Carl Pettersson, 6 and 5.
Ravens’ Birk Retires
Baltimore — Matt Birk decided to retire after 15 seasons in the NFL, the last winning a Super Bowl title with the Baltimore Ravens.
Birk, a former Harvard University player, announced his retirement yesterday at Battle Grove Elementary School.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the 34-year-old center played the best of his four seasons in Baltimore this past year.
A sixth-round draft selection in 1998, Birk played 11 seasons in Minnesota before going to Baltimore. He went to six Pro Bowls and played 210 regular-season games with 124 consecutive starts, including the playoffs.
Birk also has agreed to donate his brain and spinal cord to the Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University’s School of Medicine for head trauma research.