Tiger vs Phil. The hype was all there. As if it was the run-up to a heavyweight fight. Now, I’m not opposed to such events; challenge matches in golf go all the way back to Allan Robertson and Old Tom Morris. Remember Sergio against Tiger several years back? This one seemed a bit contrived, however. There were several putts conceded that might just have been done to keep the match going as long as possible. I have no doubt that both tried their best, but the play was less than stellar, and it did not seem to have much of a grudge factor; more like two good buddies out for a stroll at someone else’s expense. If anything, it did put golf on the front pages at a time when most people have put their clubs into winter hibernation.

As far as “The Match,” however, this one pales in comparison to one that took place at Cypress Point in 1954 between amateurs Ken Venturi and Harvey Ward against pros Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan. The event is described in the New York Times bestseller by Mark Frost titled, ironically, The Match. This was great golf. The group recorded 28 birdies over the eighteen holes and ended with Hogan and Nelson winning 1-up after Hogan rolled in a 10-foot putt to top Venturi’s 12-footer just before. Interestingly enough, the match was set up by none other than Eddie Lowery, who caddied for Francis Ouimet in the 1913 U.S. Open at Brookline.

I would not mind seeing more such competitions among today’s elite. To me, match play is intriguing. Just look at how popular the Ryder Cup has become. Maybe it’s time to bring back Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf.

By: Mike Stevens, USGTF Member and contributing writer

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