Match Play notebook: Mental game to test remaining golfers

Final four will try to grind it out with 36 more holes on tap
2013-02-24T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:56:28Z Match Play notebook: Mental game to test remaining golfersPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 24, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Ian Poulter took six weeks off before playing the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, the last four without a single hole of golf.

Good thing, too - by the end of today, he will have played 72 holes in less than 36 hours.

"I've had six weeks in the gym, so I'm feeling all right now," he said after winning two matches Saturday, against Tim Clark and Steve Stricker. "I feel really good. … "It will be more mentally tiring than anything else over the next couple rounds."

Wednesday's Round 1 snow pushed the Round of 16 to Saturday morning, with the quarterfinals played in the afternoon.

For the second straight year, the last day of the event will feature the semifinals in the morning and the finals and consolation match in the afternoon.

"I think most of us out here are pretty fit," said Matt Kuchar, who defeated Robert Garrigus and Nicolas Colsaerts on Saturday. "I'm certainly tired now, but come tomorrow I think there will be a lot of adrenaline.

"I think we'll all go to bed pretty easily tonight and have a good night's sleep. I think, physical stamina, you look at the guys left and I don't think there's anybody that's going to be struggling to make 36 holes tomorrow.

"Mentally could be a different story."

Hunter Mahan joked his body would tell him when to sleep Saturday night.

"The mental part is where the big challenge is," said Mahan, who who faces Poulter next. "And not letting yourself just be happy to be there. It's grinding it out and really focusing on the shot and kinda focusing on nothing after that - not beating yourself up after a shot or anything.

"Just try to execute the best shots that you can."

Working hard

Jason Day, who faces Kuchar next, talks about his offseason as if it were an intervention.

"Last year was … I felt like I found excuses rather than put the blame on myself," he said. "I just didn't work hard enough."

So Day - whose wife, Ellie, gave birth to his first child, Dash, in July - said he worked "very, very hard" in the gym during the offseason, and also on his mental approach.

"All the things, the little things that I've been working hard on, are starting to pay off," he said.

Wrist injury is costful

A rookie to Match Play, Garrigus romped through the first three rounds without ever trailing.

That ended after the first hole against Kuchar. Garrigus' left wrist locked up on him during his opening drive, landing 168 yards later in the scrub to the right.

"Still had a chance," he said, "but it was just unfortunate that I didn't swing it well in the afternoon."

Garrigus left the tournament without ever playing the 18th hole.

Chip Shots

• Colsaerts trailed only once Friday, but had no such luck in a 4 and 3 loss to Kuchar in the third round. Colsaerts watched as Kuchar birdied three of his first four holes and was up four only eight holes into the match.

"If you look at the middle part of the round, it's pretty much even," the Belgian said. "Just early on, I gave a couple holes too easily, and found it pretty tough to come back."

• Fredrik Jacobson carded his third straight top-10 PGA Tour finish. He tied for seventh at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and tied for third last week at the Northern Trust Open. After losing to Garrigus, 3 and 1, in the morning, the Swede tied for ninth.

Contact reporter Patrick Finley at pfinley@azstarnet.com or 573-4145. On Twitter @PatrickFinley

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