3 THINGS
Pros Ready to Meet Their Match March 25, 2019 By Mike Trostel, USGA

Jordan Spieth knows how to win match-play championships, having twice won the U.S. Junior Amateur, in 2009 and 2011. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

The calendar officially turned to spring last week, which means as the snow melts in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, the active season for posting scores is right around the corner for those in cold-weather states.

On the pro golf circuits, the PGA Tour closed its “Florida Swing” with Paul Casey successfully defending his title at the Valspar Championship. The LPGA Tour returned stateside after spending a month in Australia and Asia, with Jin Young Ko outlasting four challengers – including both Korda sisters – at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup in Phoenix.

The field of 68 has been reduced to a Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament, but March Madness doesn’t just apply to basketball. Get your brackets ready as the best in men’s golf head to the Lone Star State. Here are three things to know heading into this week.

Match Play Madness in Austin

With few exceptions, PGA Tour events consist of 72 holes of stroke play over four days. This week, the format shifts to match play as the top 64 players in the Official World Golf Ranking battle in the WGC–Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin (Texas) C.C.

Here are a few things that might look a little different this week:

  • Concessions: The ball doesn’t necessarily need to be holed if a player’s opponent concedes the stroke.
  • Strategy: Look for more aggressive play because a quadruple bogey only means a loss of one hole, not the ticket to a missed cut.
  • Shorter rounds: If a player is 3 up with two holes to play on his opponent, the match is over and they don’t have to play the 17th or 18th.

Presidential Perfection

Most golfers will remember a shot or two from their day’s round, but those memories fade over time, with one exception that will undoubtedly last a lifetime: a hole-in-one.

At age 72, President George W. Bush can finally claim his first. On March 20, “43” recorded an ace on the par-3 12th at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas.

Golf has deep roots in the Bush family. President George H.W. Bush, Bush’s father, received the USGA’s Bob Jones Award in 2008 and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011. Bush’s paternal grandfather, Prescott Bush, served as USGA president in 1935 and won the Cape Arundel (Maine) G.C. club championship eight times. His maternal great-grandfather, George Herbert Walker, was the president of the USGA in 1920 and founded the Walker Cup – a biennial competition between amateurs from the USA and Great Britain & Ireland – in 1922.

Bush serves as the honorary chair of The First Tee and spoke to USA team members during the 2013 and 2017 Walker Cup Matches – both victories by the Americans.

Calling All Juniors

This week, entries open for the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior. Both championships are open to amateur golfers who have not reached their 19th birthdays by the start of the championship, with Handicap Indexes not exceeding 4.4 (Junior) and 9.4 (Girls’ Junior). The winner receives an exemption into the 2020 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, respectively.

Apply to play here.

The 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur will be contested July 15-20 at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Past champions include Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Johnny Miller, David Duval and Hunter Mahan. Inverness has hosted seven previous USGA championships, including four U.S. Opens.

This year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior will be played July 22-27 at SentryWorld in Stevens Point, Wis. This is the second consecutive year the U.S. Girls' Junior is being contested on a public golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Notable winners include Mickey Wright, JoAnne Carner, Hollis Stacy, Nancy Lopez, Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson and Ariya Jutanugarn.

Mike Trostel is the senior content producer for the USGA. Email him at mtrostel@usga.org.

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