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Butch Harmon says strong putters will have advantage at WGC-Accenture Match Play in Arizona

Butch Harmon Posted 19th February 2013 view comments

I played golf with Barack Obama on Saturday, the fifth US President I have had the pleasure of teeing off with, and it was a great honour and I had a really wonderful time.

Obama, who I would say plays off an 18 handicap, is a very keen golfer and played 27 holes on both Saturday and Sunday during a rare vacation and loved every minute of it.

I'm sure the Sky Sports viewers will love every minute of this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play in Dovetail Mountain, Arizona, too, where 64 of the top players in the world will face off.

Watney: could be a threat at Dove Mountain, says Butch

Watney: could be a threat at Dove Mountain, says Butch

The Ritz-Carlton is not the best course on the planet; there are some pretty peculiar green complexes and, bar a few holes on the back nine, it is pretty innocuous and plays into the hands of the 'bombers' - guys who hit the ball a long way.

But when it comes to match play the venue is often immaterial.

The players are likely to face a multitude of conditions - at this time of year in the high desert it can be cool in the morning and warm-up later, while you can get strong winds or it can be quite placid.

The Ritz-Carlton is not the best course on the planet and, bar a few holes on the back nine, it is pretty innocuous.

Butch Harmon
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But it doesn't matter what score you make as long as you beat your opponent; you can play really well and lose, or play really poorly and win - and, over 18 holes, anybody can beat anybody.

You have to a have a different mind-set to what you would have most weeks; in most tournaments you are looking at what's going on around the course, but in match play it changes.

The key is adapting to the situation in YOUR match and knowing if your rival is in trouble you have to be a little conservative, and if you are two or three-down, you have to get more aggressive.

Guys that have the advantage are the ones that relish one-on-one combat and also the ones that are really good on the greens.

The solid putters can always save themselves if they hit a few bad shots going towards the hole and that can be very demoralising for their opponent.

Intriguing

The Majors and the other World Golf Championship events - the Cadillac, the Bridgestone and the HSBC-Champions - probably come above the Accenture in prestige and some players, like Brandt Snedeker and Phil Mickelson, have opted to miss the competition.

But I still think we will see some really exciting golf, right from the first round.

I'm looking forward to watching Tiger Woods face Charles Howell III, and Adam Scott meeting Tim Clark, but the battle between Irish pair Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington could be really intriguing.

My Sky Sports colleague Rob Lee picked my charge Dustin Johnson as a potential winner of the event in his column and I agree with him, because Dustin is a hard guy to beat in match play.

He will need to putt a bit better than he has been recently, but he is a long hitter, makes a lot of birdies, enjoys the head-to-head competition - something we have seen in the Ryder Cup - and he can take over a golf course when he gets on a roll.

Nick Watney, another guy I coach, opens up against a veteran in David Toms so that will be a good test of where he is at, because he putted horrendously in his last event at Pebble Beach and missed the cut.

Like Rory McIlroy, Watney made a club switch in the offseason, from Titleist to Nike, and is still getting used to that - but you cannot write off his chances this week in Arizona.

He is a very consistent player, drives the ball really well and has had good success on this course in the past.

Comments (3)

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Phil Trunks says...

Nick Watney has an outstanding chance this week if his short game can hold up. The man to beat though is Poulter, he is such a fighter

Posted 13:53 22nd February 2013

Conr Mullane says...

I don't fancy Dustin to win, his putting is not up to scratch. Charl Schwartzel is the man to beat, if he gets a good start and his confidence gets up.

Posted 14:48 20th February 2013

Peter Elliott says...

butch and rob, dustin johnson wont get past the 1st round bad record in matchplay here, wont like the wind on first day and moore or kaymer to win outright

Posted 10:13 20th February 2013

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