WGC Accenture Match Play Championship: 8 Golfers to Watch

Daniel ZhuContributor IFebruary 20, 2012

WGC Accenture Match Play Championship: 8 Golfers to Watch

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    When the top 64 players in the world clash together head to head in five riveting days of matchplay in the desert of Arizona; it's one eye dropping spectacle to watch.

    With big names like Tiger Woods, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy headlining the star studded field, this year's match play event should be one of the more exciting ones.

    So without further ado, lets take a look at eight notable players who have an opportunity to shine at the WGC Accenture Match Play.

Graeme McDowell

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    Graeme McDowell.

    He is a U.S. Open champion.

    He clenched the cup for Europe in the 2010 Ryder Cup.

    He took down Tiger Woods at the Chevron World Challenge.

    And now he's back...

    McDowell finished in the Top 10 of the Accenture Match Play Championship for the last two years, so look out for him to do the same this week or even pull off a victory.

    He's a fierce player when it comes to match play and, when talking about pressure, he's faced it all.

    McDowell battled against Hunter Mahan in the anchor match at the 2010 Ryder Cup and won. He drilled in two clutch putts and defeated Tiger Woods in a playoff, so he's had experience when it comes to playing head to head with the top players in the world.

    With a solid third place finish at the Abu Dhabi Championship earlier in the season, McDowell seems to be playing well. 

    The current World No. 12 should put on a good showing at this weeks match play event.

Luke Donald

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    The defending champion is an obvious pick for the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship.

    Donald's consistency and silky smooth swing makes him a considerable force to be reckoned with in the realms of match play.

    The current World No. 1 has gained an ample amount of experience in match play with his three Ryder Cup showings. His singles record of 2-1 also reflects Donald's consistent play.

    Donald also has a great 2011 season to build off of. After claiming two wins last year on the PGA Tour, as well as both money titles on the European and PGA Tours, he should have plenty of momentum to defend his title this week.

    Its true that he's had a mediocre start to 2012 with a T-48 finish at Abu Dhabi. But don't you ever count Luke Donald out.

Rory McIlroy

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    The 22-year-old superstar has started his 2012 season on a high note.

    With a strong second place finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and a fifth place finish at the Dubai Desert Classic to follow up, he should be feeling pretty good about himself.

    Of course, the U.S. champ is always consistent and playing well.

    McIlroy is currently ranked World No. 3 in the golf rankings and will head into this week's matchplay event as one of the top seeded golfers.

    Overall, his history with the WGC Accenture Matchplay has been mediocre. McIlroy finished tied for 17th in the last two years, but had a stellar fifth=place finish in 2009.

    As always, you can expect Rory McIlroy to perform consistently and perhaps acquire another top-10 finish if not a victory this week.

Ian Poulter

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    Ian Poulter, known for his flashy and outrageous pants, is also known for something else.

    His perfect singles record at the Ryder Cup.

    Poulter's flawless 3-0 singles record shows what a formidable opponent he is when it comes to match play

    Poulter is also a former champion back in 2010, where he battled against Paul Casey and captured his first WGC title.

    It's true that he's off to a rocky start this season, finishing tied for 45th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and tied for 50th at the AT&T National Pro-Am. But don't write him off just yet.

    With his singles record and experience, he always seems to be ready when it comes to match play.

    Definitely look out for Ian Poulter.

Nick Watney

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    It seems that my first four picks were all Europeans.

    Oh dear.

    Well, here's a talented American golfer that should capture your attention: Nick Watney.

    Watney is perhaps one of the most consistent players among the rookies out on the PGA Tour. He's placed strong tied for ninth finishes at this week's event for the last two years, and also has a pretty decent record of 2-1-1 at the President's Cup.

    Watney also has a big 2011 season to build his confidence on.

    He captured two victories—the WGC Cadillac Championship and the AT&T National Championship—and had 10 top-10 finishes.

    Talk about a picture perfect season.

    Now, with 2012 under way, he's playing subpar golf. But with his overall experience in match play, you'd expect him to shine this week.

Steve Stricker

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    You can never really count the 44-year-old veteran out of a tournament, especially in match play.

    It's true that Stricker hasn't had the best record at the WGC Match Play event, being defeated in the first round for the last two years.

    But he was a champion back in 2001.

    If Stricker can get his putting turned on, the rest of the field better watch out.

    Besides, Stricks already claimed a victory early in the season at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, so that should keep his confidence level up high.

    As a veteran player in both the Ryder Cup and President's Cup teams, Stricker's match play experience should also be another vital asset to help him shine this week.

Adam Scott

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    When I think about Adam Scott, I think of a comeback.

    After spiraling down the world golf rankings to 40th and below in 2009 and 2010, Scott has jumped into the Top Ten and is currently eighth in the world.

    What a comeback.

    After switching to his long belly putter, Scott's putting has improved dramatically, putting him in contention nearly every week.

    With a win at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational last year, and a tie for second at the Masters, Adam Scott is starting to display some of the talent that he truly has.

    Scott definitely hasn't had the greatest success at the Accenture Match Play Championship, but that was when he wasn't playing well.

    Now that he's back, he's another formidable player to look out for this week.

Tiger Woods

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    As usual, the former World No.1 will be headlining this week's field of superstars.

    Now the question is, Can he shine among all the stars?

    Well, this is both a yes and no answer.

    Yes he can...

    When Woods is playing well, and having a successful day on the greens then he has a chance to do well this week. By combining his improved long game with a decent putting round, Woods shows signs of the Tiger Woods of old.

    No he can't...

    However, when Woods is struggling on the greens like he was on the final round at Pebble Beach, then he may exit the stage quite early. If he misses a high amount of putts inside ten feet, then he'll be struggling to stay in the field.

    So there is a 50-50 chance that he'll perform well at this week's matchplay, but it all depends on whether or not he can putt.

    As always, he's always a golfer to look out for during any week on Tour.