WGC Accenture Match Play Championship Preview and Picks

WGC Accenture Match Play Championship
Date: February 15 21, 2010
Course: The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Marana, AZ
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
By Evergreen of Predictem.com

Bet the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship using your credit card at the web’s biggest online bookmaker: Sportsbook.

It might be hard to think golf this week as so many of us can see snow on home courses right now, but at least you can watch the pros take on each other head to head in the Accenture Match Play Championship. Match play is viewed as the most pure form of golf by some, but no matter your view on the format, it does wind up providing some of the most interesting action of the whole year. The field size may be small at 64 players, but the event will kick off Wednesday to accommodate all the matches. The very best from around the world are here with only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson absent from the top 64 of the Official World Golf Rankings. Additionally, youll be introduced to some names you may have never heard of before as the World rankings include play from Tours all around the globe. The Golf Channel calls the action from the first three days with CBS picking up the weekend finish.

Its tough to predict what will happen in any match play event as the format does not always suit the more talented players. Tiger Woods has won this event as won this event as a number 1 seed overall, but Jeff Maggert, Kevin Sutherland and Steve Stricker have also won as much deeper seeds. Stricker tries to win his second Accenture title overall but will be seeded 54 spots higher than he was in 2001.

You may want to take a look at some of the lesser known players a bit longer as seeding doesnt mean too much in this event. The better seeds are typically the more successful players, but the low seeds are full of up and coming stars as well as players that primarily play overseas where the quality of golf has advanced greatly over the past decade. The Euros may have a bit of an advantage in a match play event as far more players are exposed to Ryder Cup style events in Europe and Asia. In the past few years, Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey have made the finals after playing the majority of their golf on the EPGA.

The host course in a stroke-play event may have a lot to do with who will and wont do well, but course layout wont be much of a factor this week. The Saguaro and Tortolita nines at Dove Mountain will be used for the tournament and while they play a combined 7,849 yards from the tips, look for a more moderate total length as they play through the week and the desert air also takes a lot of teeth out of the raw yardage. The Nicklaus design sports typical desert golf features with wide fairways and waste areas utilized as hazards as the course winds through the canyons. Each players style will factor heavy in the matches as some will favor a par-first approach to limit mistakes while others will be super aggressive knowing they can only lose one hole no matter how badly they play a particular hole. Comfort with the format may be the biggest key; just ask Geoff Ogilvy, hes made three finals on three different courses.

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Normally, wed give you our short, middle and longshot odds picks to win in this spot, but this week its not quite that simple. With 32 first round matches, there are bound to be more than a few top players upended. Well highlight the potential early round upsets, picks a winner in all the first round matches and reveal our bracket from the quarterfinals on down to the winner. Check with your golf sportsbook of choice for action on most in not all matches plus most books expand their prop bet section for this event.

#1 seeds most likely to exit early.

#1 Martin Kaymer v. #16 Chad Campbell (Hogan Bracket)
Kaymer has won multiple times overseas but bowed out in the second round in last years event. Campbell has that grinding style that gets rewarded in match play and has never failed to win at least two matches in his four previous Accenture starts. If Kaymer does make it through round 1, hell face the winner of the 8/9 match between Vijay Singh and Tim Clark. Either veteran will be a big roadblock for the Hogan #1 seed.

#1 Jim Furyk v. #16 Scott Verplank (Snead Bracket)
Furyk has been good in the early rounds, but has a habit of getting bounced in the round of 16 as he did last year and the year before. Verplank doesnt have much match play success either with a sub-.500 overall record, but has the solid stat sheet to push Furyk all the way. The winner of the 8/9 match between Hunter Mahan and Charl Schwartzel will test Furyk should he make it past round 1 as both players are very talented but yet to break all the way through.

Upset Alerts

#3 Ian Poulter v. #14 Justin Leonard (Jones)
This first round match features two of the best match play participants in the field. Poulter has made quick work of early round opponents, but everyone knows what kind of heroics Leonard has mustered in his Ryder Cup performances. Justin will be making his 12th Accenture start to Poulters 5th so the experience edge lies with the American.

#4 Sergio Garcia v. #13 David Toms (Hogan)
Sergio has been a thorn in the Americans side in recent Ryder Cups, but Toms has made the finals in the Match Play on two occasions, winning it all in 2005. Garcia has also seen a pretty mediocre run of golf over the last year while Toms had a nice renaissance in 2009.

#6 Camilo Villegas v. #11 Dustin Johnson (Player)
The Official rankings were set before Johnson defended his AT&T title last week so this is a bit of a wolf in sheeps clothing match for Villegas. Johnson would have likely pulled a 7 seed or better had this event been next week instead. Both players are oddly talented in that they are extremely long but have strong short games as well.

#2 Paul Casey v. #15 Stephen Ames (Snead)
Casey showed he can win this event with a runner-up finish in 2009, but Ames may be one of the tougher first round out based on seed. Ames steady style will put pressure on the more talented Casey and travel can always be a factor for the Euros making the transition to the states.

1st round winners

Jones Bracket

#1 Stricker over #16 McGowan - #1 overall seed and former champion versus second alternate: enough said

#2 Harrington over #15 Milka Singh - Harrington has been prone to early exits, but Singh has never won a match.

#3 Poulter over # 14 Leonard - Leonard posted a better finish in 2009 but Poulter has never lost in round 1.

#5 Fisher over #12 Jaidee - Match play whiz should roll against Accenture rookie.

#6 Cabrera over #11 Scott - Neither has much match-play success but Cabrera has had more recent success.

#7 Kim over #10 Kuchar - Softer expectations and less globe-trotting should lead to a better 2010 for Kim.

#8 Ishikawa over #9 Sim - Both are rookies, Ishikawa is youngest in the field so he should be freewheeling.

#13 Sabbatini over #4 Karlsson - Sabbs could be most underrated talent in the draw and may pull multiple upsets.

The Sabbatini match looks to be the only one with true upset potential, leaving a bracket championship between two high seeds a good bet.

Hogan Bracket

#2 McIlroy over #15 Na - McIlroy is on the short list to breakthrough with a Major win in the next 2-3 years.

#3 Allenby over #14 Hanson - Allenbys close misses in stroke play events will be good enough to win matches.

#5 Glover over #12 Hansen - Neither player has won a match before, Glover made the big leap back into draw.

#6 Donald over #11 McDowell - Donalds improved health should be enough to let his talent win out.

#7 Jimenez over #10 Wilson - Wilson has the better match play record, but the Mechanic off to a hot Euro start.

#9 Clark over #8 Singh - Clark is off to the better start and age looks to be finally catching up with Vijay.

#13 Toms over #4 Garcia - Spaniard has the Ryder Cup record but it hasnt shown at the Accenture.

#16 Campbell over #1 Kaymer - Kaymer making a name for himself overseas but Cambell is 8-0 in rounds 1-2.

This bracket could blow wide open with a high likelihood of an all international final pairing.

Player Bracket

#1 Westwood over #16 Wood - Westwoods record is shaky at best but Wood is only here because Woods isnt.

#2 Stenson over #15 Crane - Stenson is the 2007 champ and seems to play his best against the best.

#3 Ogilvy over #14 Noren - Ogilvy has only lost twice in all Accenture competition.

#5 Goosen over #12 Hansen - Hansen is 0 for 2 in WGC matches, about to be 0 for 3.

#7 Yang over #10 Kjeldsen - Yang bested Tiger head to head to win the PGA, good enough for a round 1 nod.

#8 Watney over #9 Ikeda - Watney is the more known commodity with all of Ikedas success coming Japan.

#11 Johnson over #6 Villegas - Johnson is on fire and his first round loss in 09 was at the hands of Stricker.

#13 Moore over #4 Els - Moore is a first timer and Els has a history of very early exits.

The player bracket has the recent match play king in Ogilvy as well as one of the men who have beaten him in this event in Henrik Stenson. Look for another head to head between the two in the round of 16.

Snead Bracket

#1 Furyk over #16 Verplank - This one should be very close, maybe even extra holes but Furyk simply better.

#2 Casey over #15 Ames - Caseys only loss last year was to Ogilvy in the title match.

#3 Perry over #14 Gay - Both would be tough outs against anyone; Perry has the experience edge.

#4 OHair over #13 Dyson - Recent success for both on respective Tours; OHair made round of 8 last year.

#5 Cink over #12 Molinari - Cink just too strong here with runner-up and 3rd place finishes last two years.

#6 Johnson over #11 Molinari - Johnson wins but Molinari is no stranger to match play.

#9 Schwartzel over #8 Mahan - Mahan usually gets out of round 1 but Schwartzel has 2 wins on 2010 EPGA.

#10 Weir over #7 Quiros - Weir has the more steady overall game but both players out in 1 round last year.

The Snead bracket is very balanced and therefore wide open. This draw looks to be the best bet for an all American finals match.

Quarterfinals:

Stricker #1 (Jones) v. Jimenez #7 (Hogan)
Its hard not to like Stricker against anyone given his stellar play of late. He took the week off to rest up for the grind of the match play and should be a force this week. Barring a first round shock, we have Stricker facing Ishikawa, Fisher and Kim on the way to the quarters. None of the above will be favored against him, but Kim could easily push him with a superior physical game. They dont call Jimenez the Mechanic because he is good with cars. Look for the crafty vet to carve up Wilson, McIlroy and Allenby on his way here with the second round match against McIlroy as his toughest test. Stricker comes out on top should these two meet as hes just too tough in a format that rewards consistency.

Ogilvy #3 (Player) v. Cink #5 (Snead)
If you are filling out a bracket, start with Ogilvy in the quarters and work back. No one has a better record at the Accenture and hes beat just about every different kind of player and won every different kind of match in his run. The potential match with Stenson is the hardest on paper with Geoff likely making quick work of his first round opponent and then facing the Johnson/Villegas winner. Cink has a tough road to this point with likely matches against Sean OHair and either Furyk or Mahan/Schwartzel. Ogilvy will be the favorite at any book and should take out Cink who will be game should this match come off, but is also prone to laying an egg as he did when Woods beat him 8 & 7 in 2007.

Finals:

Steve Stricker v. Geoff Ogilvy
Not a whole lot of imagination in picking these two to make it all the way, but they are just too good to pick against. Both have tremendous stat lines for match play and both are proven winners on a variety of courses. Both also have wins in 2010 so look for the winner here to have a nice head start in the FedEx Cup race when the week ends.

Odds to win and daily matches will be posted by all the bookies come Monday night and will update through the week. Good Luck with the bets!