After an exciting finish at the Northern Trust Open, the PGA Tour heads to Arizona for the WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship from The Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana.
This is a field of the Top 64 players in the world that play until one winner remains and, with it being the only match play event of the season on the PGA Tour, it definitely gets some added attention. All but two players ranked in the Top 50 - Brandt Snedeker and Phil Mickelson - are teeing it up in this event.
The WGC Match Play starts a day earlier to accommodate the six rounds and concludes with a 36-hole final match Sunday. Unlike the NCAA tournament, where the higher seeds normally advance, anything can happen here. And, while rankings are still important, they are not to be taken too much into consideration.
In the last 12 years in this event, a No. 1 seed has won it only three times and that, of course, was Tiger Woods - the only player to win this event three times.
There are plenty of upsets throughout but for the most part, a low seed usually takes home the prize. In four of the last five years, a No. 3 seed or better has won the event and in the past 14 years, 11 winners have come from a No. 6 seed or better, including seven of the last nine years where a No. 4 seed or better has won. Some big upsets were in 2006 with 13th-seeded Geoff Ogilvy, Steve Stricker in 2001 as a No. 14 seed and Kevin Sutherland the next year as a No. 16 seed.
Taking a look at last year, No. 6 seed Hunter Mahan defeated No. 1 seed Rory McIlroy 2&1. In the first round, 15 of the 32 matches saw the higher seed pull off the upset including 16th-seeded Ernie Els defeating No. 1 seed Luke Donald 5&4. The other No. 1 seeds, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, all won comfortably in their first match and McIlroy and Westwood both made it out of their bracket and into final four before Westwood lost to McIlroy 3&1 in the semis.
Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Luke Donald and Louis Oosthuizen are the No. 1 seeds this year. Woods is the favorite at +1,000 with McIlroy right behind him at +1,200 and then Donald coming in at +1,500. Oosthuizen is a distant +2,500.
There are 12 first-time participants in the field this week with two matches pitting rookie against rookie. McIlroy, Donald and Oosthuizen are all facing first timers in the first round with Woods getting the bad draw and catching Charles Howell III, who has 11 matches under his best.
There will be four tournament picks, one from each bracket so no player can knock out another before reaching the semifinals. These are overall tournament picks, not just winning their respective brackets. Additionally, matchup winners will be provided each day.
Jones Bracket: Charl Schwartzel (+1,500) is a No. 3 seed but his odds are like a top seed and for good reason. He has been lights out since November, finishing fifth at the SA Open Championship, T3 at the DP World Tour Championship, first at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and second at the Joburg Open. His PGA Tour debut last week resulted in a T3 at Riviera. He is 5-4 in this event with all four losses going at least the max.
Hogan Bracket: Matt Kuchar (+3,000) opened with a 64 at Riviera last week before fading but his game is just fine for this event. He lost to eventual champion Luke Donald in the semis two years ago and beat Bubba Watson in the consolation match to finish third. Last year, he made it to the quarters before losing to eventual champion Hunter Mahan. He is 9-3 in this event and don’t forget he won the U.S. Amateur, so this is a great format for him.
Player Bracket: Lee Westwood (+2,500) will have to take out favorite Tiger Woods or hope someone else does in order to get out of this bracket. Prior to last year, there was no shot as Westwood had never won a second-round match in 11 attempts. But he made it all the way to the semifinals before losing to McIlroy, so the monkey is off his back. He has looked good in two starts this year and, if not for two bad Saturday's, his results could be a lot better.
Snead Bracket: Nick Watney (+4,000) is getting great value. He is in a bracket with Luke Donald and Ian Poulter - the 2011 and 2010 champions respectively - so it won't be easy. But he has the game for it and an upset to those two opponents could happen prior to Watney facing them. He has played well this year and a week off should help. He has made three starts in this event and has won the first two matches each year, including a win over Tiger Woods in 2012.
Recommended tournament win four pack at the WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship - All for 1 unit
Charl Schwartzel (+1,500)
Matt Kuchar (+3,000)
Lee Westwood (+2,500)
Nick Watney (+4,000)