|It's An All-Sacramentan Final|
|by Martin Olivera|
Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron will face each other
in the 2002 Accenture Match Play Championship just like the did back
in high school in Sacramento, California 20 years ago. This time they'll
be playing for a $1 million first prize, instead of a school trophy or
Only one quarterfinal match made it to 18 holes in the morning. Paul Azinger, winner at La Costa back in 1990 when the resort hosted the Mercedes Championships, beat Bob Estes 2&1 in a very close match. Both players were 3-under-par through 14 holes and the match was all square. Azinger birdied #15 to go 1-up and then sank a 6-foot birdie putt on #17 to close out the match.
McCarron was 2-down against Tom Lehman who made birdie on #2 and #6 to gain an early lead. But the match turned around dramatically when Lehman bogeyed #10, McCarron birdied #11, #12 and #13, Lehman bogeyed #14 and McCarron then finished off the match 4&3 on #15 winning his sixth hole in a row with a par.
Brad Faxon caught up with Jose Maria Olazabal's early lead capitalizing on the Spaniard's mistakes on the back nine. Ollie had won the first three holes, but uncharacteristically inaccurate iron play eroded that lead and Faxon went 1-up taking the lead for the first time with a par on #16. Olazabal made a 15-foot putt for birdie on #18 to send the match to extra holes. They halved their 19th hole (#10) and Faxon made an 18-foot putt for birdie to win the match on the 20th hole.
Sutherland and Toms traded birdies and bogeys all morning. Only two holes were halved on the outward nine (#1 and #6). The #62 seed won #10 and #11 to go 3-up, but Toms reduced the lead with a birdie on #13. However, Sutherland made birdie on the difficult #16 to win 3&2 and advance to the afternoon semifinal match against Faxon.
Paul Azinger and Scott McCarron battled through a tight match. They were all square through 11 holes, both making two birdies and a bogey. McCarron birdied #12 but Azinger came right back with a birdie of his own on #13 from two feet. It all came down to one putt, the one made from 40 feet by McCarron on #18. Azinger failed to hole his wedge shot from the greenside rough to halve the hole and McCarron then advanced to the final winning 1-up.
Faxon was ahead 2-up through eight holes, but on #9 Sutherland sank a 25 footer for birdie and Faxon missed his from 6 feet to lose the hole. Another birdie on #10 from a foot squared the match. And a par on the par-5 #12 gave Sutherland the lead. The match ended on #18 in a dramatic fashion. Faxon missed a short putt for par when Sutherland, who had missed the green on the short side, needed a 10-footer for a par of his own. They halved the hole with bogeys and Sutherland, surpassing his own expectations, will play for the championship tomorrow.