10 stunning upsets and underdog runs in WGC-Match Play historical past


The prolonged PGA Tour hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic means this week we’re with out one of many extra thrilling occasions on the schedule.
There gained’t be any jaw-dropping upsets or dramatic comebacks this week on the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship, which is likely one of the extra unpredictable tournaments contested annually. However that doesn’t imply we are able to’t look again on just a few memorable – and inconceivable – moments.
From surprising singular match outcomes to dramatic runs by way of the bracket, this is a glance again on 10 of the largest upsets within the 20-year historical past of the occasion:

O’Hern reveals how he beat Tiger in match play

Nick O’Hern tops Tiger (2005, 2007)
Tiger Woods often is the biggest participant of his era, however he had an Achilles’ heel when it got here to this occasion: particularly, one lanky, left-handed Aussie. O’Hern by no means gained on the PGA Tour, however that didn’t cease him from surviving a showdown with Woods on the top of his powers – not as soon as, however twice.
The primary upset got here in 2005, when the match was held at La Costa and the 2 met within the second spherical. O’Hern barely survived his No. eight vs. No. 9 opener in opposition to Charles Howell III, which earned him a date with the two-time defending champ. Woods hadn’t misplaced on this occasion in three years, however he was no match for O’Hern, who putted his solution to a 3-and-1 victory. He’d finally lose to Ian Poulter within the quarterfinals.
Two years later at Dove Mountain, the 2 met once more with Woods driving a seven-tournament profitable streak on the PGA Tour. He cruised by way of his first two matches, however once more couldn’t hold tempo with O’Hern, who outlasted Woods with a par on the 20th gap.
“To beat him as soon as was an incredible thrill, and I’m positive he needed to even the rating at this time,” O’Hern instructed reporters. “It’s one thing to inform the grandkids, I suppose.”

Peter O’Malley stuns Woods (2002)
Earlier than O’Hern obtained his claws into Woods, one other Aussie confirmed it was doable by pulling off the largest upset so far in match historical past. O’Malley was a 36-year-old journeyman with three European Tour wins to his credit score however not a lot U.S. success. He was the lowest-ranked participant within the discipline, No. 64 total, and obtained in solely when Jose Coceres withdrew due to harm.
Woods was the reigning Masters champ, however he struggled on the greens in opposition to O’Malley at La Costa and didn’t document a single birdie till the 16th gap. By then it was too late, as O’Malley closed out the match, 2 and 1, with a 20-foot putt on the following gap.
“I had a no-lose state of affairs, actually,” O’Malley mentioned. “Nobody anticipated me to win, so I can simply go on the market and play my recreation and if I win, effectively, it’s nice. And if I don’t, it doesn’t actually matter.”
It was the primary time the match’s lowest-ranked seed gained a match. O’Malley went on to lose to Nick Value within the second spherical and by no means performed within the occasion once more.

Darren Clarke takes down Tiger (2000)
In February 2000, Woods was nonetheless a pair months faraway from beginning the Tiger Slam. However he was already taking part in a few of the greatest golf of his profession, and Clarke’s run to the semifinals appeared destined to finish when he, as a 5 seed, was left standing in opposition to three No. 1 seeds: Woods, Davis Love III and David Duval.
However the Ulsterman dispatched Duval within the semis to set the stage for a memorable finale. Clarke not solely beat Woods within the 36-hole match, incomes his first Tour title within the course of, he did so in resounding vogue. The match ended, four and three, after Clarke poured in 12 birdies throughout 33 holes and missed only one inexperienced over his last 17 holes. Even Woods, close to his all-time peak, couldn’t sustain.
“Darren simply flat outplayed me,” Woods mentioned.
Clarke solely gained 3 times on the PGA Tour, however all had been important: he added one other WGC title at Firestone in 2003 and lifted the claret jug in 2011.

Hunter Mahan stops Rory McIlroy’s run to No. 1 (2012)
Clarke’s wasn’t the one memorable upset within the match’s last match. By the 2012 version, the ultimate had been trimmed to 18 holes, and it appeared like a fait accompli when 6-seed Hunter Mahan went up in opposition to prime seed Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy was the reigning U.S. Open champ, and with a victory over Mahan he would attain world No. 1 for the primary time. As an alternative it was Mahan’s day to shine, as he gained three straight holes on the entrance 9 and by no means seemed again. He gained the match, 2 and 1, for the fourth of his six profession victories.
“Deep down, you needed to postpone that crowning of the No. 1 participant on this planet for Rory,” Mahan mentioned. “He’ll get there. I imply, he’s phenomenal. He’s actually gifted. He’ll be No. 1 finally.”
Mahan’s prediction proved correct. McIlroy gained the Honda Basic in his subsequent begin to attain No. 1 for the primary time, a spot he occurs to at present maintain.

Lowry talks ’09 Irish Open win, beating Rory at WGC Match Play

Shane Lowry knocks off pal Rory McIlroy (2013)
The connection between Lowry and McIlroy stretched again to their days taking part in junior golf in Eire, and the 2 met once more within the opening spherical in 2013. Whereas they might appear an excellent match at present, with Lowry in possession of the claret jug, seven years in the past he had barely certified for the 64-man discipline and was struggling along with his recreation.
However 2013 was a bizarre 12 months for this occasion – on prime of Dove Mountain being unexpectedly blanketed with snow, two of the highest seeds misplaced within the opening spherical. That included McIlroy, the match’s No. 1 total seed.
McIlroy and Lowry had even eaten dinner collectively the night time earlier than their match at an area restaurant, however as soon as they hit the course it was the world No. 66 who edged his buddy with a par on the 18th gap.
“It’s undoubtedly a day I’m going to recollect,” Lowry mentioned. “I’m positive, after just a few weeks or a pair months, I’ll slag Rory over it. However on the finish of the day, it’s solely the primary spherical.”
Lowry went on to lose the following day to a different good pal, Graeme McDowell.

Kevin Sutherland wins as a 16 seed (2002)
Which Match Play total winner is most stunning? Kevin Sutherland, by a mile. He barely certified, ranked 62nd amongst a 64-man discipline at La Costa, and appeared headed for a fast exit as a 16 seed up in opposition to reigning Open champ David Duval within the opening spherical.
However Sutherland gained that match, escaping from a 1-down deficit with two holes to go. Then he beat Paul McGinley, Jim Furyk and reigning PGA champ David Toms to make the semifinals. There he beat Brad Faxon, and in essentially the most unpredictable last ever, he beat 12-seed Scott McCarron, 1-up, for the $1 million prize.
“I may have simply misplaced to David within the first spherical and it wouldn’t have been an excellent week,” Sutherland mentioned. “However because it turned out, the victory actually opened fairly just a few doorways for me.”
The whirlwind week modified Sutherland’s notion on Tour, but it surely turned out to be the one victory of his PGA Tour profession. He went on to search out success on PGA Tour Champions, capturing a 59 and profitable a season-long Schwab Cup title in 2017.

Steve Stricker comes out of nowhere Down Underneath (2001)
The 2001 version of the occasion stays essentially the most distinctive: it was the one one held outdoors the U.S., performed at Metropolitan Golf Membership in Melbourne, Australia. And it was held in early January somewhat than late February, a scheduling quirk that contributed to 4 of the world’s prime 5 gamers sitting it out.
However Stricker made the trek to Oz, the place he began as a 14 seed in opposition to No. Three seed Padraig Harrington. The American was ranked 91st on this planet, hadn’t performed a Tour occasion since September and was 5 years faraway from his most up-to-date win.
However he beat Harrington, then Scott Verplank and No. 2 seed Justin Leonard. Within the quarterfinals he confronted one other upstart, No. 16 seed O’Hern, however beat the Aussie on his house turf earlier than taking out Toru Taniguchi. That left solely Sweden’s Pierre Fulke in his means, and Stricker took the 36-hole last with a 2-and-1 victory.
Stricker would have missed out on a spot within the discipline by a large margin had the highest names performed, however as an alternative he earned a breakthrough win after trailing for under 9 holes all week.
“All of them had the chance to commit and are available over, and so they didn’t,” Stricker mentioned. “That’s all I care about. It’s a giant win, my largest win, and it will get me getting into the fitting course.”
Stricker would go on to lose his Tour card in 2004, however would win once more in 2007 to spark a late profession resurgence.

Steve Pate erupts in opening 12 months (1999)
Often called the “Volcano” for his explosive on-course character, Pate barely certified the primary time this occasion was performed as a WGC again in 1999, ranked No. 61 out of 64 gamers. That standing earned him a gap match in opposition to Davis Love III, who was a runner-up at Riviera only one week prior.
However Pate pulled off the upset, presenting an instance of how unpredictable the single-elimination format might be, and he didn’t cease there. He beat Brandt Jobe, Fred {Couples} and Eduardo Romero to move to the semifinals as the very best doable seed on his facet of the bracket.
There he met Jeff Maggert, and Pate appeared effectively on his means after constructing a 3-up lead by way of 11 holes. However Maggert stormed again, beating Pate en path to a title the following day. Pate ended up fourth, additionally dropping the comfort match to John Huston, however his run by way of the bracket was a giant purpose why he was chosen as a captain’s choose by Ben Crenshaw just a few months later to spherical out the 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup squad.

Dubuisson takes on nature (2014)
Victor Dubuisson was a largely unheralded determine within the golf world till he took on an elite discipline – and Mom Nature – in a stirring efficiency.
The Frenchman was the 7 seed within the Sam Snead bracket, and early wins over Kevin Streelman and Peter Hanson didn’t draw a lot consideration. However when he knocked out Bubba Watson and Graeme McDowell to achieve the semifinals, individuals began to note.
The ’14 bracket had some quirks to it: Ernie Els toppled wunderkind Jordan Spieth in a semifinal run that marked one in all his few post-Lytham highlights, and Rickie Fowler made the semis (as a 14 seed!). However there was no larger shock than Dubuisson, who flashed his quick recreation magic throughout Dove Mountain to advance to the ultimate in opposition to Jason Day.
Dubuisson was Three down with six holes to go and a pair of down with three to play earlier than storming again, burying putts on Nos. 17 and 18 to drive extra time. On the primary additional gap his method ended up in a cactus however he by some means hacked it out onto the inexperienced to save lots of par, solely to repeat the heroics from the junk on the very subsequent gap to maintain his hopes alive. Day finally gained on the 23rd gap, however Dubuisson’s inconceivable escapes had been the primary takeaway from a memorable finale.
He went on to play within the Ryder Cup just a few months later, however he hasn’t gained in Europe since 2015 and hasn’t factored within the U.S. since his runner-up displaying in Arizona.

Bjerregaard upsets Tiger (2019)
The match’s format switched in 2015, that includes group play together with a single-elimination bracket. Final 12 months, Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard was lucky simply to flee the group portion, because the lowest seed in a four-man group that additionally included Justin Thomas, Keegan Bradley and Matt Wallace.
Bjerregaard adopted with one other upset over Henrik Stenson to earn a quarterfinals match in opposition to Tiger Woods. Woods was taking part in effectively, and earlier within the morning had crushed Rory McIlroy in essentially the most anticipated match of the week. However the Dane proved to be an excessive amount of, as Woods lipped out a 5-foot par putt on No. 18 that may have prolonged the match.
“Yeah, I dreamt about it. I didn’t suppose it was ever going to return true,” Bjerregaard mentioned. “However I’ve undoubtedly seen myself on the follow placing inexperienced after I was 10 years previous making a putt to beat him or in a serious or one thing like that. I gained’t lie.”
Bjerregaard misplaced to Matt Kuchar within the semifinals, in the end completed fourth and hasn’t performed a lot of notice within the 12 months since. Woods, as you could have heard, went on to win the Masters two months later.

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