Citizen Staff Writer
MATCH PLAY GOLF
If it’s up to the “no-names,” the talk about the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain course being punishing and treacherous is just excuse-making.
British golfers Oliver Wilson and Ross Fisher blistered the course, relatively speaking, to convincing wins Thursday, combining for 13 birdies and no bogeys.
Wilson sent wunderkind Anthony Kim home, and Fisher defeated Pat Perez 6 and 5.
The relative part comes with the excessive amount of pars, some by playing it safe, some by gambling and others by shrewd calculation.
“It’s important to make pars a lot of the time,” said Phil Mickelson, who survived another opponent’s rally and beat Zach Johnson on hole No. 18.
Wilson and Kim cloned shots until Kim hit his drive on No. 8 awry, although not by much. Wilson was true, got the birdie and the lead and went on to birdie six of the next nine.
“There’s so many calculations out there to make, for us especially (strangers to desert courses),” Wilson said. “The ball is going miles, sometimes 350, 360 off the tee, which is good fun.
“It’s not a long hitter’s course, even though it’s nearly 8,000 yards. It’s about shaping shots, distance control and short game, and those are my strengths.”
Mickelson is even more apt to turn things into science.
“I think it’s a challenge on and around the greens,” he said, “because it’s difficult to get the ball close. If you’re able to, you have good birdie chances, but if not you’ve really got to be creative with your short game.”
“No-name” stature comes from Wilson and Fisher’s unfamiliarity with American players. But that seems to be changing.
“I still feel sometimes I come out and a lot of the U.S. players kind of sit down at the table, and I feel like nobody really knows me but they actually do,” Wilson said. “They sort of say, ‘Hey, how are you, Ollie?’ I’m still getting used to that.”