|Sutherland Putts For Dough|
|by Martin Olivera|
Kevin Sutherland prevailed 1-up over Scott McCarron through a 36-hole
ordeal to win the 2002 Accenture Match Play Championship. He takes
home $1 million, plus a 3-year exemption on the PGA TOUR. It's his first
victory in his seven-season career on this TOUR. At age 37, he became the
oldest winner of this event. McCarron runner-up's paycheck is for $550,000.
Perhaps never was more clear the cliche "drive for show, putt for dough" than today. In a fantastic exhibition of short game wizardy, Sutherland outlasted McCarron who could only watch fellow Sacramento native sink halve-saving putt after halve-saving putt. Sutherland hit only 10 out of 28 fairways, but made only one bogey all day. He trailed most of the day, until McCarron made back-to-back bogeys to surrender the lead on the 15th hole of the afternoon round (33rd hole of the match). "I had some serious doubts today about whether it was going to happen (the win) because I just was not playing very well", said the champion. "Gosh ... I can't remember the last time I drove the ball so poorly", he added. But the putts kept falling in and that kept him in the match. McCarron was frank about the match. He said: "I feel I played a lot better than my opponent today and I should have won. But he just didn't make a bogey."
The match was all square after the morning 18 holes. Surtherland had started with 11 straight pars, birdied the par-5 12th and the par-4 15th, and a lone bogey on the par-4 13th. McCarron made more birdies (4), but also more bogeys (4). He couldn't get ahead more than 1-up all morning. The afternoon round followed a similar pattern, but McCarron went quickly 2-up after birdies on #2 and #4. His opponent cut the lead with a birdie on #5, but McCarron responded with a birdie on the par-3 7th. "The turning point of the whole match was the 9th hole", said McCarron. "They told me he hit his (2nd) shot in the water, over the bridge. I had 250 yards to the front into the wind and was going to hit driver. My caddie asked me if I was going to lay up. I hit driver anyway". As it turned out, McCarron's second shot ended up in a small inlet by the right greenside bunker with a poor lie. And Sutherland was not in the water but had to punch a low pitching wedge from 90 yards that ended up five feet from the hole. He converted his putt for a birdie four. McCarron could only manage a par and got rattled. "I'm thinking I'm going to go 3-up at that point and really take command of the match and Kevin pulled out a miracle shot out there." Sutherland squared the match with a birdie on the par-3 11th, but McCarron replied with his own birdie on 12th. It was McCarron's errors on 14th and 15th that gave Sutherland the lead. McCarron barely missed a birdie putt on 18th to send the match to extra holes. Sutherland executed an excellent bunker shot to within a foot to save par and win the match.
In the 18-hole match for 3rd place, Brad Faxon edged Paul Azinger in 19 holes. Faxon made a 2-putt par on 18th to win the hole and square the match when Azinger bogeyed. Faxon earns $450,000 while Azinger gets $360,000.