No bracket could have predicted this outcome. How could just one top-seed make it through to the semi-finals? Although the dream match of Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t materialize, the semi-finals of the Accenture WGC World Match Play provided some memorable golf. The matches were set. The first match of the day would pit uber-conservative David Toms against bleach-blond, spiky-haired Ian Poulter. In the second match, Chris DiMarco a fiery competitor would take on Retief Goosen the stoic South African. Could there be any greater contrast in styles? So how did these fire and ice matches play out?
David Toms vs. Ian Poulter
No two golfers have been hotter this week than David Toms and Ian Poulter. Toms was an absolute buzz saw, carving his way through the Sam Snead Bracket. Poulter himself was a very tough competitor crushing most of his opponents in the Gary Player Bracket. So when the two met, it was sure to be some tough competition.
The match began well for Poulter who birdied the first hole to go 1-up. However, a bogey on the second allowed Toms to square the match. Poulter would again go ahead on the 7th, but again Toms answered on the next hole squaring the match. Finally on the 9th hole (which played as a full length par-4 for the first time) Toms went ahead with a birdie. Then Toms began the onslaught. On the par-4 10th, Toms spun back his wedge from 110-yards right into the cup for an eagle-2. On the next hole, Toms nailed a 220-yard 5-wood to within three feet for back-to-back eagles. Toms’s simply stuffed every approach on the back nine, his farthest birdie putt was 9 feet away from the pin. To his credit, Poulter did not give up despite Toms’s incredible ball striking. Poulter birdied the 12th to get back to 2-down. However, in the end, Toms birdied the par-3 16th to close out the match 3 and 2.
This will be David Toms second appearance in the Match Play Finals. Two years ago, Toms lost to Tiger Woods in the finals. Looking at overall records, it is little surprise that Toms is in the finals. His record is an impressive 17-5, bettered only by Tiger Woods who is 24-4.
Chris DiMarco vs. Retief Goosen
Perhaps one of the best match play victories of DiMarco’s career, things looked very bleak in the beginning. The first three holes found DiMarco three down. In the post-round interviews he said, “I just didn’t want to end 8&7.” Possibly the most important hole of the match was the fifth where DiMarco center-cut a long putt to halve the hole with Goosen and stay three down. Then the tables began to turn.
Off the tee on the 8th, Goosen’s errant drive lodged in a tree along the right side of the fairway. Goosen’s caddy, Colin Byrne, even went so far as to climb up the tree with an iron to try and dislodge the ball. Byrne dislodged a ball which fell into the rough, Goosen picked it up and said, “It’s not mine.” Goosen then went on to concede the hole and DiMarco narrowed the gap down to 1. Then the real grinding began. DiMarco birdied the par-5 11th to square the match. Then he took the lead on the 13th, and went to 2-up after chipping in for birdie on the 14th from nearly the exact same place where he did in the quarter-finals. Goosen’s fate was sealed on the 17th when he missed a short 3-foot putt for par and DiMarco closed out the victory 2 and 1.
So the finals are now set. DiMarco and Toms are good friends but will put all that aside during the grueling 36-hole final tomorrow. No it’s not the all star final many wanted to see at the end of the tournament. However, there’s no doubt that no one else has played better than DiMarco or Toms throughout this tournament.