The top players descend on Tucson this week for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Except for the Ryder and Presidents Cup events it is the only time the PGA Tour players get a taste of match play. Sixty-four players will tee it up on Wednesday and 32 will be boarding flights out of town on Wednesday night. It will be a very short work week for half of the field.
Even though Phil Mickelson is coming off of stellar performances at Pebble Beach and Riviera, he sent his regrets and is taking spring break with his family. Paul Casey is still struggling with injury and was forced to bow out of the match play also.
South Africans Ernie Els and George Coetzee are beneficiaries of the Mickelson and Casey withdrawals. Els has been struggling with his putting lately and has not been a factor for some time. He will face defending champion and world No. 1 Luke Donald. Good luck with that.
Coetzee will make his first appearance in the U.S. and gets to face world No. 2 Rory McIlroy. I wouldn’t unpack everything if I were Coetzee. He may make a quick exit.
The 2011 WGC-Accenture runner-up, Martin Kaymer, versus Australian lefty Greg Chalmers and Englishman Lee Westwood versus Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts round out the other 1-16 matchups. Westwood has never made it out of the first round in the WGC-Accenture. Will he make it to the second round this year?
Maybe the most interesting matchup of the week will be Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez against Sergio Garcia. Jimenez is the “Most Interesting Man in Golf” and Sergio has been playing very well of late. He shot a final-round 64 to move into a tie for fourth at last week’s Northern Trust Open from Riviera. Stay thirsty my friends! Ole’, Ole’, Ole’.
Tiger Woods is a No. 5 seed and draws Gonzalo Fdez-Costano in the first round. Fdez-Costano is ranked No. 48 in the world and won the 2011 Barclay’s Singapore Open last November. Tiger has been making progress and will play the next three weeks in a row as the tour moves to Florida after the match play event.
The David Toms versus Rickie Fowler match will be fun to watch. Toms, the veteran, will be facing a young aggressive Fowler, who has had a slightly disappointing start to 2012 and desperately needs a win in America.
Half of the “Golf Boys” Bubba Watson and Ben Crane will face each other. When last we saw them they were a duet singing for the crowd at the rowdy 16th hole in Phoenix. Long-hitting Watson and slow-playing Crane should make for good entertainment.
There are 32 matches on Wednesday airing on Golf Channel beginning at noon. Thursday and Friday matches will again be on Golf Channel from 2:00-6:00 PM. NBC picks up the coverage on the weekend from 2:00-6:00 PM.
You might want to start thinking up excuses to call in sick to work this week. If you are a true golf fan the WGC-Accenture Match Play should make for can’t miss entertainment.