Sixty-four of the top players in the world are in Arizona for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and play starts Wednesday. Missing from the field are Phil Mickelson (who is on a family vacation) and Paul Casey (who is still recovering from an off-season injury). It is player's Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) that qualifies him for the tourney, so there may be some international players that are less familiar to those that just follow the major Tours.
But have no fear, there are all kinds of A-listers ready to take on their first opponent . The top seeds are: Luke Donald (1), Rory McIlroy(2), Lee Westwood(3), and Martin Kaymer(4)...they are the top seeds in their respective brackets. Steve Stricker is the top American seed (5), with Webb Simpson right on his heels (6). Tiger Woods is 20th on the OWGR, and 5th in his bracket. Interestingly, not that long ago he was outside the top 50 on the OWGR list.
But you really need check out the brackets to see who is playing who and who and to see each of the guys your favorite player may run into on his way through the matches. I'm sad to report that Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker ended up in the same bracket (Hogan), and of course I have them running into each other in the quarter final bracket match. Woods, in the Snead bracket may see the likes of Westwood, Simpson, Nick Watney, and Haas...AND one of my favorites Alvaro Quiros!
To get to the finals, Dustin Johnson and Luke Donald would have to run into each other, but they would need to get past the likes of Adam Scott, KJ Choi, or one of my new favorites, Kyle Stanley.
I bet a top pick on a lot of brackets will be McIlory. He may see Keegan Bradley in the quarters, and may also need to get past Jason Day or Sergio Garcia to get to the finals.
There are all kinds of picks, rankings, and advice on who is going to win this weekend...but in the end, it may come down to one guy getting on a hot streak.
Match play is a great format, but doesn't always make for great TV. And it can be a long weekend for fans if their players are out in the first 2 rounds (uh, 2011, Stricker out in the first round!). My history for picking the winners has been awful, but 2012 may just be the year that one of my favorites finds their way to the finals! (A girl can hope, right?!)
I've got to think that the "win or go home" mentality of this format may lead to some different strategies throughout the round...it's one guy and the golf course...and a golf course that is playing long! A hot putter might make up for those guys lacking distance off the tee, but some holes might just be about being patient and letting the other guy feel the pressure. And it's always interesting to watch momentum changes and mental games going on in matches throughout the event. One bad hole doesn't ruin the whole round, so keeping a positive attitude can be the 15th club in the bag.
I'm pretty sure Sam's got Dustin in his winner's bracket, but in mine, I've got DJ going down in the semi-finals. Enjoy the Match play, and let's hope for some excitement on Sunday!!
Filed under: match play, Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar, Cathy Erickson, Dustin Johnson, WGC