Bubba's back, Jimmy Walker is human and Rickie Fowler suddenly forgot how to play golf. That's your weekend wrap from the Northern Trust Open, but now onto more exciting news - the WGC-Accenture Match Play event is up next. It's been a while since I've had the pleasure of covering this event in these parts, but due to the powers that be at PGA Tour headquarters finally ridding themselves of the event held opposite the Accenture, I am now free to focus on the match play event instead of a stroke play tournament in Puerto Rico or Mexico or Guam, wherever. The point is, for all of its issues late in the week, it's tough to beat the match-play format for the first few days, and I am excited to get started.
Before we get to the lists, though, let's start with a couple things to remember about this event. First, even though Tiger Woods has feasted on this event, it's generally not wise to use your big guns in this format. Like any tournament, it's all about match-ups, and you'd hate to burn one of your best players in an event where one bad round could do him in, or worse, where one great round by his opponent could spell the end of the week for your guy. Second, there is no such thing as upsets in this event. Yes, each player has an assigned seed, but it really doesn't mean anything. These guys are all professionals and each can win on any given day.
This week: WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship - Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain, Marana, Ariz.
Last Year: Matt Kuchar defeated Hunter Mahan in the final.
Players to Consider:
While it's a good idea to avoid top-tier golfers, players like Mahan, on the tier just below, are fair game. Mahan has simply owned this event the last two years. He won in 2012 and finished runner-up last year. He obviously has an affinity for this type of format.
The man that Mahan lost to last year, Matt Kuchar, also has a pretty strong track record. Besides his win last year, Kuchar also has a T5 and a solo third. Kuchar has never been eliminated in the first round of this event.
There aren't many, if any, golfers on the planet playing better than Watson, and fortunately for us, he also has a strong track record at this event. Watson's best finish here was fourth place in 2011, and he's never lost a first-round match.
Poulter loves this format, and with many of the top players in the world taking a pass this week, he's likely licking his chops. Poulter won this event in 2010 and finished fourth last year. A note of caution with Poulter, though, he is hit or miss here as he's gone out in the first round in three of his 10 tries.
Day is primed for a great season and is off to a good start with one runner-up in two starts. He also has a strong track record at this event with two top-10s in three tries. Day posted his best finish at this event last year when he finished third.
Players to Avoid:
With Woods, Mickelson and Scott absent this week, McIlroy looks like a tempting option, but there are a few reasons to pass on him this week. He's not on top of his game, he doesn't have a great track record here and he's exactly the type of player you don't want to burn in a match-play format.
Garcia's has had his moments here, such as a fourth-place finish in 2010, but for the most part, he's struggled at this event. He's lost his first-round match four times in 11 tries and has made the top-8 just once.
Westwood has only one top-10 in 13 tries here. He's lost his first-round match five times and his second-round match seven times. His history here, coupled with his upside during the majors, makes Westwood an awful choice in the one-and-done format this week.
Els has lost his first-round match in four of his last eight tries. He's lost his second-round match in three of his past eight tries. That leaves just one advancement past the second-round in the last eight years.
This will be a good test of momentum as Johnson is playing well to start this season, yet he generally struggles here. Johnson has lost his first match in five of the last seven years and hasn't advanced past the second round since 2006.
ONE AND DONE
Last week: Graham DeLaet (T70) - $13,199; Season - $1,538,160.
This week: Hunter Mahan - Mahan looks like a perfect pick this week. He has a tremendous track record at this event and is not someone you want to use during the majors, so there's no concern about burning him too early.
Last week: Jimmy Walker - made Cut; streak - 1.
This week: NA