By Mo Yoshimoto
on Wednesday, February 20th
WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship
The Golf Club at Dove Mountain; Marana, AZ
The European Tour and PGA Tour collide in the first co-sanctioned event of the 2013 season. The WGC-Accenture is Week 8 (Fantasy Challenge-Golf Channel) and Week 6 (Fantasy Race to Dubai-European Tour). Big purse up for grabs this week so if your picks can go deep into the brackets, plenty is at stake. Conversely, this event is a match-play format and unlike stroke-play events, where ground can be made up from a slow start, this is a one-and-done deal. One loss and you’re packing your bags.
• 64 of the Top 68 in OWGR are in the field. No. 4 Brandt Snedeker and No. 9 Phil Mickelson were W/D’s. Snedeker due to a rib-injury and Mickelson family vacation. Replaced in the field by Fredrik Jacobsen and Shane Lowry.
• 12 of the 64 are making their first WGC Match Play appearance: Jamie Donaldson, Stephen Gallacher, Russell Henley, Marcel Siem, Robert Garrigus, Marcus Fraser, Branden Grace, David Lynn, Thorbjorn Olesen, Scott Piercy, Richie Ramsay and Lowry.
• Past Champions in the field: Hunter Mahan; Luke Donald; Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson; David Toms; Tiger Woods (x3) and Steve Stricker. (Note: Only Mahan, Donald and Poulter’s victories were here at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain).
• Four players who started the year outside the top 100 qualified for the 64-man field: Richard Sterne (154), Russell Henley (131), Charles Howell III (117) and Chris Wood (139).
• Course measures 7,791 yards on the card. Par 72 (36-36). Weather will play a factor in the Day 1 matches: Marana, AZ [Forecast] Wed. 52°F 33°F / Chance of Rain: 70% / Winds: WSW19.
Names to Watch (Odds):
• Tiger Woods (9/1) – Woods is the odds-on favorite. Nuff said? Not so fast. Three-time champion here but none on this course and Woods has made early exits his last three visits.
• Charl Schwartzel (16/1) – Is there anyone on the planet hotter than this South African? His last five starts: T3, 2, 1, T3, T5. Alas, these were all stroke-play events but his confidence is sky high.
• Luke Donald (16/1) – First-round exit last year but not unusual for defending champions (2011) to get bounced early the following year. Donald may have the ‘easiest’ road to the semis.
• Matt Kuchar (28/1) – Hard to argue with Kuchar’s success here. Solo 3rd in 2011 followed by a T5 here last year. Has never lost in the first two rounds here. I look for Kuchar in the finals.
• Martin Kaymer (30/1) – My dark horse. T2 here in 2011 followed by a T9 last year. Clinching 2012 Ryder Cup putt has revived Kaymer’s mojo. Kaymer vs. Kuchar in the finals.