Shocking Underdog Runs And Upsets In History Of WGC-Match Plays

The PGA Tour is going to have an extended hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that this week we are all left without one of the most exciting scheduled events. There will be no dramatic comebacks or shocking and jaw-dropping upsets this week at one of the most unpredictable tournaments contested yearly, the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship.

Because of that people are searching for memorable and improbable moments, just to relive the memories in the weeks where we are left without the match plays. From dramatic runs to unexpected results, below you have some of the most memorable moments you might have forgotten about, in the 20-year history event.

1999 – Making it big, Steve Pate

Pulling off the upset, showed just how unpredictable these single-elimination formats can actually be. Steve Pate was able to beat Fred Couples, Eduardo Romero and Brandt Jobe, and then he was qualified for the semifinals. After he lost to Jeff Maggert, pate ended up fourth, but due to this run through the bracket, he was chosen by Ben Crenshaw as captain’s pick.

2000 – Darren Clarke took down Tiger

In February of 2000, Woods was already playing some of the best in his golf career and he was a couple of months removed from the starting the Tiger Slam. Clarke’s semifinal run was destined to end, as he was left against 3 No. 1 seeds, Davis Love III, Woods, and David Duval.

Setting the stage to a memorable finale, Ulsterman dispatched Duval in the semi-finals. Not only was Clarke able to beat Woods in the 36-hole match, but he also earned his first Tour title as well, and he did that in a very resounding fashion. That match had ended 4 and 3, after 12 birdies were poured across 33 holes by Clarke and missed just one of the greens over his final seventeen holes.

2001 – Steve Striker 

Making a trek to OZ, where he was able to start as the 14 seed against Padraig Harrington No. 3 seed. Steve Stricker was able to beat Harrington, and then Scott Verplank, as well as Justin Leonard. He then entered the quarterfinals where he had another upstart, but he was able to beat his opponent yet again, after which the only one left in his way was Pierre Fulke. But that resulted in Steve Stricker taking the 36-hole final with a 2 and 1 a victory.

2002 – Peter O’Malley stuns Woods 

Before O’Hern and Woods had a match, there was yet another Aussie who showed that it was very much possible to beat Woods. A 36-year-old journeyman by the name of O’Malley, who had three European Tour, wins with not that much success in the USA. He was one of the lowest-ranked players in the field, and he was able to get into the tournament only when one of the players withdrew because of an injury.

The reigning Masters champ was Woods, but he has struggled on the greens at La Costa against O’Malley, and not a single birdie was recorded from him until the 16th hole. O’Malley already closed out the match, two and one, so by then, it was too late. This was the first time that the lowest-ranked player was able to win the match. After that, O’Malley played and lost in the second round, and then never played in that event again.

2002- Winning as a 16 seed, Kevin Sutherland

One of the most surprising Match Play winners of all time is definitely Kevin Sutherland. He was barely able to qualify and he ranked 62nd, among 64 others. So, winning the match in 2002, was one of the biggest surprises by a mile!

2005, 2007 – Nick O’Hern tops Tiger 

As we all know, Tiger Woods is one of the greatest players of his generations, but he did have an Achilles’ heel when considering this event. In 2005, the tournament was held at La Costa, and O’Hern was barely able to survive his No. 8 vs No. 9 opener against Howell III who then earned the date with the two-time defending champion. After two years, the two of them met again, as Woods again could not keep up the pace with O’Hern, and was outlasted by him on the 20th hole.

2012 – Hunter Mahan VS Rory McIlroy

Even though Mcllroy was the reigning USA Open Champ, in the match of 2012, he was not the one who carried the victory. Instead, Mahan was the one who won three straight holes, and he was able to win the match, 2 and 1.

2013 – Shane Lowry and Rory Mcllroy

The relationship between the two is stretched way back to their junior days, and the two of them have met again in 2013. One could say that that was a rather odd year, since not only did Dove Mountain have an unexpected blanket of snow, the two of them lost in the opening round.

2014 – Dubuisson VS nature

When you prepare for a match, you have to be ready for everything, but Dubuisson was not expecting what came in the match of 2014. One of the first extra holes that were approaching ended up in a cactus, but even so, he was able to hack it out on the par. This heroic was repeated from the junk on his next hole, and he eventually won, which is why this became a memorable finale.

2019 – Bjerregaard upsets Woods

The format of the tournament changed in 2015, with a single-elimination bracket and a group of play along. Bjerregaard upsets Tiger was fortunate to escape the group portion. Following an upset over Henrik Stenson, Bjerregaard upsets Tiger earned a place in the quarterfinals match against Woods. Bjerregaard upsets Tiger eventually lost to Matt Kuchar in the semifinals and overall finished fourth. He has not done much ever since, while Woods, as many of us have heard, has gone to win the Masters soon after.

9 golfers who will have to work harder once the season resumes

The spread of coronavirus will surely make the forecast of 2019-2020 season of PGA tour difficult to predict. We can only imagine what the schedule for tournaments will look like after it’s safe to resume and when will that actually be? Some of them have already shifted the dates, while other are currently revising what their options are in the sight of recent events, so the season might end later than August.

Presuming things get better in May and the FedEx Cup Playoffs resumes in the same fashion in 2020, and also the qualifying stays the same, players are supposed to be ranked in top 125 on the cup point list until there’s only 30 left who are heading to East Lake. This kind of presumption leaves us with an interesting reality that qualifying for Playoffs will be harder than it ever was due to the fact that number of events has shrunk so far, and possibly will further shrink. There were originally 46 tournaments available for players to earn points, where now we’re faced with a reality of having 11 cancelled. Meaning the number of tournaments to be played at the moment consists of maximum 35, so some professionals will have less time than they thought to earn their points.

There are a fair number of players who will be impacted, several of them play on the European Tour and don’t compete in number of PGA Tour’s fall events. Waiting for the spring season would work just fine if they wanted to earn enough points usually, but as things turn out it’s going to be tougher at these times.

These nine professional players will have some serious catching up to do.

Zach Johnson
World Ranking: 247
FedEx Cup rank: 131
Despite actually having 10 starts in this season, the two-time major winner is having issues to play consistently well. So far he has had only one finish in top 20 at Sanderson Farms’ T-14. The 2018-2019 season was the first time he has missed Playoffs.

Lucas Glover
World Ranking: 89
FedEx Cup rank: 141
In his 12 starts of the season, Glover has had only one top-35 finish, T-9 at the shiners. His form has gotten better and 2019 Tour Championship is his first time to qualify since 2009.

Jordan Spieth
World Ranking: 56
FedEx Cup rank: 110
Spieth is inside the top 125 currently despite his recent struggles. Moving forward his margin for error is small and that’s bad news for him.

Sergio Garcia
World Ranking: 38
FedEx Cup rank: 179
With only five PGA Tour events played, but making the cut in all of them Garcia’s overall average scoring of 71.496 at T-33 at the Zozo Championship ranks him as 161st on Tour.

Henrik Stenson
World Ranking: 32
FedEx Cup rank: 197
Henrik’s victory at the Hero World Challenge back in December doesn’t unfortunately count for the FedEx Cup. Until the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2020 he didn’t make the appearance in a PGA Tour and je missed the cut.

Francesco Molinari
World Ranking: 28
FedEx Cup rank: 169
Despite winning on the PGA Tour twice in 2018, Molinari’s fate has turned. He has lost the final-round lead last April in the Masters, where it all went downhill from there. This season he has made six PGA Tour starts, and two of those were no-cut WGC events, playing only once the weekend in four tournaments with cuts.

Justin Rose
World Ranking:14
FedEx Cup rank: 205
Rose has never missed the Playoffs in the last 10 years since the beginning of Tour Championship. The 2018 FedEx Cup champion has usually starts his PGA Tour late, but has been able to catch up every year so far. During his four starts in 2020 there was only one cut, a T-56 finish at the Genesis Invitational.

Dustin Johnson
World Ranking: 5
FedEx Cup rank: 111
Johnson is trying to get back into form this spring, after missing the fall season because of a knee surgery. His double top-10 finishes got him into top 125, which were at the Genesis Invitational and Sentry Tournament of Champions, but he still needs some more solid placements in the future.

Brooks Koepka
World Ranking: 3
FedEx Cup ranking: 213
Kopeka has missed the fall events after failing to finish the CJ Cup due to an injured knee. He is behind in the FedEx Cup race, but the assumption was that Kopeka will get his game together and earn up the points to climb up on the list when the majors came around, despite a lukewarm start to the season.

Will golfers have different priorities after coronavirus ends?

The suspension of golf may help professionals see the bigger picture and European Tour stars might resist the temptation of rushing towards the money.

Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus’ statements over current problems in the world could echo, considering their stance that golf is not so important for the moment. Rory Mcllroy’s statement that we’re one team in this outbreak helps push the message, while Jon Rahm also further supports it by raising his voice when fellow millennials ignore the advice on coronavirus, it might hint a new perspective at the top of professional golf.

The sense of community we’re rediscovering during these trying times along with the stars of golf might spark new thinking at the rising stars of golf. The sport in general should retain the acts of kindness, as we can see on certain big names in the sport world. Considering however that golfers are independent, in control of their actions, as long as they’re performing at the top of their game, could things be different once this is all over?

Is there a chance in there that men and women playing at the highest lever will see the bigger picture instead of their own interest?
Will they realise that their pursuit of excellence is crushed by pursuit of money and will they think of working for the greater good of lesser known fellow professionals?

The same questions were asked after the events of September 11, 2001, bearing the question of importance of money, reputation and rivalries. The answer came quickly when everything resumed back to normal, nothing changed and we got over the notion of a caring world of sport.

Recent events are different to what happened 19 years ago, now we’re forced to think of the less fortunate than us, who are in a non-admirable position. But is it enough to make the successful golfers thing somewhat different in the future?

Tiger Woods has never played the John Deere Classic due to its small-time status on the PGA Tour. Obviously that would never happen, but some people have been wishing for something like that to happen, since it would show his appreciation towards the general public with such a gesture.

However the PGA Tour has forced the stars in the recent years to play some of the less famous tournaments. It might be that now is the time to make those wishes a reality, seeing how best golfers around the glove could do something for lesser known player and tournaments which struggle.

Some of the European players are so much taken over by the thought of playing a PGA Tour that their path to winning is taken over by the thought of earning money. Their ambition doesn’t drive them to elevate the game, by playing some of the smaller tournaments in their home countries and in Europe which are hoping to attract strong fields.

Women’s Tour after the crisis will be hit hard as well, it was struggling even before the crisis occurred to reach a financially relevant status and give female professionals a reason to play and earn a living. Even though there have been collaborations between women’s and men’s tours, the damage will be greater after these events, and it calls for an urgent need to make this kind of happening a must.

Those golfers who remain financially healthy we can only hope will give a thought or two towards those less fortunate.