Facebook Twitter



Match play, while extremely rare on the pro golf tours, is extremely popular with the players.

"I love match play. The mindset is so different, particularly in teams," Jack Nicklaus said. "You ask yourself, `How's my partner sitting, is he where he should be?' If so, I'll take a run at it."'Nicklaus teamed with Arnold Palmer in the new Diners Cup Matches, with two-player teams from the PGA, Senior and LPGA tours competing among themselves over the weekend.

Helping provide an exciting finish to a dramatic day at PGA West, Nicklaus and Palmer made a late charge from four holes down Sunday to go 1-up on Raymond Floyd and Dave Eichelberger heading into the 18th hole.

Eichelberger, however, sank a 20-foot birdie putt there to send the match into a playoff, then rolled in a 15-footer for a birdie on the 19th hole to win it.

Despite losing, Nicklaus said, "I think we both enjoyed it thoroughly."

Palmer said that he enjoyed it, too, but "It would have been much more fun and I would have enjoyed it a lot more if we had won."

In the PGA final, Jim McGovern and Jeff Maggert rallied from four holes down with five holes to play, catching Rocco Mediate and Lee Janzen on No. 18, then winning when Maggert sank an 8-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole.

The LPGA's Kelly Robbins and Tammie Green weren't as far behind, just two holes behind Juli Inkster and Dottie Mochrie after the first 11 holes, but they staged a rally of their own, shutting out Inkster and Mochrie on the back nine to win 2 and 1.

In team match play, each golfer plays his or her own ball, with the low individual score on a hole winning that hole for the team. The team that wins the most holes wins the match.

Although match play tournaments used to be relatively common, none of the three tours currently has a match play event on an annual basis.

Mediate and Janzen said during the tournament that they were having a great time.

"I haven't played match play in 10 years and I'm having a ball," Mediate said. "I think this is going to be a great event and hopefully I can come back.

"Every hole seems like a playoff hole. You could be up a tree and you would still be trying to knock it into the hole."

Janzen said the format offers different challenges than the medal play used in almost all tour events.

"In match play, you can play the best golf of your life and lose, or play average and win," Janzen said. "It's a different strategy. It's pressure on the players on every hole."

The LPGA players also liked the format.

Match play, particularly with teams, involves different strategy, and perhaps more gamesmanship, than medal play.

Nicklaus, however, said he thinks the gamesmanship is pretty simple: "What you do is hit a good shot up next to the hole and say, `OK, your turn.' "

While match play is fun for the players, it has its drawbacks for spectators and, more importantly when tournament planning comes up, for TV.

"It doesn't work for TV," said Rick Fehr, who along with teammate Loren Roberts won their first match but were eliminated the second day. "The tournament opens with Nicklaus and Palmer, but will you see them on Sunday? They're two big draws and it would hurt to lose them."