Thursday, June 02, 2022

MATCHPLAY golf is such a different form of the game. At club level there are many opportunities to play it but not so much at tour level. The week just gone on the LPGA was the Matchplay in Las Vegas as the very exclusive Shadow Creek Golf Club. Hugely disappointed not to be a part of it as our missed cut by one shot 2 weeks ago in New Jersey bumped us out of the places available for this event. Double whammy, miss the cut by one and then that results in a further week of no play.

Tour life is a tough place. The Toyota World Matchplay of years past in Wentworth was such an iconic event around the famous Burma Road course. I would love to see more of this format re-introduced at tour level as one event out in Arizona for the men is simply not enough. A format that requires many different facets to the strokeplay equivalent. So what does make it different and special? The feeling of a more combative, mano-a-mano mindset. Playing the course matters but more importantly playing the other player.

In matchplay it is very important to try take the lead early and be the player who sets the pace early on. Get the honor on the tee and keep it, applying pressure all the time. That creates momentum and being first to hit off the tee can build confidence and in turn apply small beads of pressure to your opponent. In matchplay the quality of the golf and even the score tends not to really matter that much, just score better than your opposing player. The ability to change and adapt during the match is a huge key also. A usual game plan to play your traditional stroke format does not apply here. You can be more aggressive at times and yet clever in reacting to your opponent’s shots too. In ways this format can be very liberating, a result of the fact that a poor shot can’t cost you the entire result, one hole lost and we move on!

However the closing out of the match can be the pressure point and the ability to hold a lead and play clutch golf to maintain it is key. Lots of phychology and an alert mind. Just such a great way to improve your skills at this game by playing more of these matches. Represent your club when the opportunity arises as it is invaluable experience to you and your golf game. Back to Vegas and Eun Hee Ji won the event after coming through seven matches over five days!

The 2009 US Open champion will head to Pine Needles this week for this years edition with huge confidence even if a little tired! The quality of her play especially over the weekend was just top drawer and giving her opponents little encouragement.

It’s a huge week upcoming for the LPGA Tour with the US Womens Open at Pine Needles in North Carolina. The biggest prize fund ever in the Womens game with a $10M purse this week. Leona Maguire returns this week but keep an eye out for Madelene Sagstrom and Annie Park to go well this week.

By Harry Ewing. Harry is a caddy on the LGPA Tour and his column, Fairways of Life, appears on a weekly basis in The Nationalist.

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