After the bloodbath top seeds took at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championships in round one, you have to love this style of golf. Win and you’re in, lose and go home, is a bargain the American sports fans love, and round one of this tournament didn’t disappoint. Half of the number one seeds at the Dove Mountain Resort are warming up for round two, and the other half caught airplanes back to where they came. Some made the round trip all the way from South Africa for one round of golf.
There are two round one matches that will need to be completed on Friday morning before the second round can get underway. One group will be starting on the 18th hole, and one will begin at 16. Of the matches we know about, I have found a couple that are very interesting.
Sergio Garcia will take on Matt Kuchar from the Ben Hogan Division in round two. Sergio struggled with Thailand’s Tongchai Jaidee in the first round, and had to go twenty holes before he could dispatch the stubborn Jaidee. Garcia played well in the first round, but Jaidee came in on a hot streak from the Sunshine Tour where he had some solid finishes, but couldn’t pick up a win. Garcia prevailed at 1 up, and will face Kuchar next.
Matt Kuchar dispatched Hiroyuki Fujita 3 & 2 in the first round, to set up what may be one of the better match-up in the second round. Both players have proven track records in match play competition and should give us an interesting match on Friday.
Both Garcia and Kuchar have won the Players Championship, Garcia made the consolation finals here at Dove Mountain in 2012, and Kuchar in 2011, losing to defending champion, Hunter Mahan. Garcia has a 10 and 3 match play record, and Kuchar is 13 and 11.
Hunter Mahan will have to face one of the hottest players on any tour at this time, Richard Sterne from South Africa on Friday. I’m not sure how much Sunshine Tour golf the talking heads have been watching, but everyone seemed surprised that Sterne was able to dispatch Jason Dufner so easily. Sterne comes into this event after finishing second at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, and a win at the Joburg Open. If Mahan doesn’t bring his A-Game, he could be Sterne’s next victim.
Richard Sterne, who led the first three rounds at Dubai before a stumble in the final round, beat Dufner 1 Up in the Gary Player Division. Dufner made the match a little closer after play resumed on Thursday, as Sterne dominated early. The South African was on a roll, and the weather delay only put off the inevitable.
Hunter Mahan has a much better match play record at 11 and 4 with Sterne’s being only 1 and 2, but don’t count out the South African. I predicted in an earlier post that Sterne would take care of Jason Dufner, and I am predicting he will get the best of Mahan in this second round match-up. Hunter Mahan has played a little better of late, but Sterne comes in battle tested, and ready to play.
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