My friend Jason Zelich and I have a yearly ritual of heading down to Tucson for the first round of the Match Play. In my opinion it’s the best day for watching golf all year — where else do you get most (if not all) of the top 64 golfers in one place at one time. Nowhere else in the U.S. on the PGA Tour as far as I know. Well, this year I woke up to pouring rain and a doppler radar full of bad news for Tucson, so I called Jason and we rescheduled for Friday.
The weather forecast had called for the possibility of snow showers in Tucson, but what happened here in Arizona on Wednesday was bordering on ridiculous, definitely the strangest winter weather day I can remember in my total of 30 years of living in Phoenix. We all know what happened at Dove Mountain — cold, wind, rain, snow and blizzard-like conditions — definitely not golf weather. And in Phoenix we had wind and heavy rain, followed by thunderstorms, hailstorms and snow — yes snow — right here in Phoenix and Scottsdale. Now I know those of you who live in places that have real winter weather, especially with this year’s cold temperatures, blizzards and heavy snow, are laughing at us winter weather wimps here in Phoenix, but for us it was pretty strange to see.
Friday was a different story, beautiful weather, a bit chilly but with temps in the 50’s and a mix of sun and clouds. This gave the course, the players and fans a chance to finally thaw out after the first two days of frigid golf conditions. Jason and I followed several of the Nike Athletes in the field, starting with Nick Watney on the first tee against Steve Stricker, then on to Russel Henley who was playing Jason Day. We then caught up with Carl Pettersson who was up against rising Irish star Shane Lowry, and finally we followed Thorbjorn Olesen who was playing Tim Clark. Unfortunately the first round saw the elimination of Nike Athletes Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel and Francesco Molinari, so we weren’t able to see them in action.
I was unable to secure media credentials and a photo pass for Friday, but Jason was able to snap a few candid shots with his phone. Those are in the galleries below, along with some cool artistically retouched versions that Jason created for us. Sadly, none of the remaining Athletes made it past round 2, but check out the galleries below to see a few shots of them in action. I’m already looking forward to round 1 of next year’s WGC Match Play Championship — if we can avoid seeing snow on Wednesday again that is.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF JASON ZELICH, ZCONCEPTZ.COM
ROUND 2 PHOTOS: ORIGINALS
ROUND 2 PHOTOS: ARTISTIC VERSIONS