The WGC Accenture Match Play Championship gets underway on Wednesday morning at the Dove Mountain Golf Club in Marantz, Arizona. The field is packed with top talent from both the PGA and European Tours, and will be the first World Golf Challenge event of the year. The only two top players who will not be at Dove Mountain this weekend are Brandt Snedeker, who is nursing sore ribs he picked up at the Humana Challenge, and Phil Mickelson. Phil has been active since the season got underway, and is taking time during spring break to spend some time with his family.
This event is, as the name implies, a match play format. Players are are scored on a hole by hole basis, and if you lose your match, you go home. Only winners will advance to the next round. The number one seeds are Rory McIlroy, in the Bobby Jones Division, Tiger Woods, in the Gary Player Division, Louis Oosthuizen in the Ben Hogan Division, and Luke Donald the Sam Snead Division. Oosthuizen was elevated to the top seed when Snedeker had to opt out. The remaining players are seeded in accordance with their World Golf Rankings.
The most interesting first round matchup, is Tiger Woods facing Charles Howell III. Tiger has played a lot of practice rounds with Howell when he lived in the Orlando area of Central Florida. Woods will not gain an advantage through intimidation. Charles Howell has played well through the spring, he lost in a playoff to Bo Van Pelt back at the Humana, and his game fits this type of event.
The other match-up in the first round to keep an eye on, is between Jason Dufner, and Richard Sterne from South Africa. Sterne had a run at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic a couple of weeks ago where he finished in second place, only to follow it up with a win at the Joburg Open. He finished T 7 at the Alfred Dunhill, and currently leads the European Tour in Race To Dubai points.
Coverage for the Accenture will be on The Golf Channel with various starting times for the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday rounds, and provide early coverage for the weekend matches before NBC takes over at 2 PM Eastern. TGC will start it’s Sunday coverage at 9 AM Eastern.
You can pick up a Bracket List at www.pgatour.com, as well as sign up for the Bracket Challenge. There are links at their site to get you to the Challenge website for course and event information.
Tiger Woods has won this event three times in his career, but hasn’t made it past the second round since his last victory in 2008. Hunter Mahan won here in 2012, but has not won a tour event since The Shell Houston Open last April. Rory McIlroy will return to action for the first time since missing the cut in Abu Dhabi. After a huge announcement by Nike at the event, the worlds number one player struggled with his new equipment, and has been away grooving his new clubs for this event.
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