February 24, 2013; Marana, AZ, USA; Ian Poulter tees off on the sixth hole during the semifinals of the Accenture Match Play Championships against Hunter Mahan at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Hump Day Golf Report: February 19, 2014

I don’t know about you, but this is one of my favorite weeks in the golfing year. First off, I love Match Play, and it marks the week when the best golfers in the world come back to regular PGA Tour competition. The Accenture Match Play Championships get underway today at the Dove Mountain Resort, and features almost all of the best players in the world in a win or go home tournament. It’s March Madness for golf!

I’m sure you know by now, the three big names that are missing at the Mountain Course in Marana, Arizona for today’s start are number one, Tiger Woods, number two, Adam Scott, and number four, Phil Mickelson. That leaves 2013 FedEx Cup, and Race To Dubai Champion, Henrik Stenson who is ranked number three as the top player in the field.

In a conversation with Matt Hooper from St. Andrews Magazine, I thought he brought up an interesting point. The people at The Official World Golf Rankings should have a system where people qualifying for this event, and all of the WGC events, should suffer some kind of penalty for skipping these events.

Tiger Woods just don’t like the golf course, Phil Mickelson spends spring break with his kids, and probably doesn’t like the course either, and Adam Scott is just taking a breather. I know Adam played a bunch of golf during the off-season, and needed a break, but why skip a world event like this? Who knows!

With all bad news, somewhere, someone gets an opportunity they may have otherwise missed. The lucky three this week are the replacements for the missing stars. Scott Piercy, Kiradesch Aphibarnrat, and Richard Sterne all get a chance to play for some big bucks, and a nice trophy this week instead of watching it on television with the rest of us.

Just like March Madness however, they will have to take on top seeds in the first round, and face a daunting task. Piercy will have to face US Open Champ, Justin Rose in the first round, Aphibarnrat gets Henrik Stenson, and Sterne, the South African gets one of the hotter players on the PGA Tour at this time, Zach Johnson.

Other action this week comes from Thailand and involves the ladies. The Honda LPGA Thailand gets underway on Thursday. You will not be able to see the opening rounds in real-time, but all the rounds will be available on tape delay. You can get all of the information, and television coverage from Elizabeth Bethel’s Preview blog. LPGA Honda Thailand Preview and TV Schedule. Check it out if you are following the ladies.

Suzann Pettersen blew a chance last week in Australia to take over the Number One Rolex Ranking. All she needed was to finish alone in second place or better to get the number one ranking. With Inbee Park not in the event, Pettersen had a gigantic meltdown on Sunday and put an 80 on her score card. Things won’t be as easy this week as the Number one ranked player will be in the field, and in defense of her spot.

2012 Maters Champion, Bubba Watson ended a two-year winless streak on Sunday afternoon at The Northern Trust Open with a two-shot win over Dustin Johnson. Bubba would not repeat the debacle he had in the Phoenix Open a couple of weeks ago. He played flawless golf down the stretch at Riviera, and logged his fifth career win.

Bubba shot 64′s in both of his final two rounds, and a birdie on the 72′nd hole put an exclamation mark on the win. Dustin Johnson finished runner-up for the second week in a row.

After the Match Play Championship, the Tour moves to Florida as the fields get stronger while everyone attempts to get their games ready for Augusta.

Speaking of Augusta, We lost an Icon this week in the nasty weather that blew through the Southeast. The Eisenhower Tree at The Augusta National Golf course had to be removed due to damage. The tree was between 100 and 125 years old, and Bob Harig at ESPN.com wrote a nice article with all of the history behind it. It’s worth a click.

Augusta removes Eisenhower Tree

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Tags: Accenture Match Play Championships Golf Inbee Park LPGA PGA Phil Mickelson Suzann Pettersen Tiger Woods

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