One of the most exciting weeks on the PGA Tour goes this weekend in the valley of the sun. It’s a week where bogeys can win you the tournament, and where birdies might not gain you any ground. It also is the first Tier 3 of the year, so there are oodles of points to be had. Introducing…THE 2012 WGC ACCENTURE MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP.
Our bracket busting begins in the Bobby Jones quarter, and how can you not like the defending champion, especially given his friendly looking schedule. Donald shouldn’t be tested until the third round, and even that shouldn’t be anything all that tough (Snedeker, Stanley, or Choi) His bracket final is likely to be against either Adam Scott or Dustin Johnson, but given their combined record of 1-6 at this event, the world’s #1 player has to be the favorite in the Jones division.
Our next stop is arguably the weakest of the 4 brackets, the Ben Hogan bracket. Everyone knows Martin Kaymer is not a viable option as a #1 seed, and I expect to see him gone in the second round. Look to the land down under to produce the winner in this bracket, in the form of #10 seed Aaron Baddeley. Baddeley has quietly been putting together a very strong year, and aside from a 2nd round matchup with Steve Stricker – who hasn’t played in 6 weeks – his half of the draw doesn’t look too tough. Kuchar or Watson will be tough in the bracket final, but Baddeley has the consistency and distance to out duel either foe.
The most coveted title in sports – the Gary Player bracket at the match play – is our next stop, and I really don’t see anyone other than Rory McIlroy taking this. A third round match with Keegan Bradley would be his toughest test along the way – probably even tougher than a bracket final against either Simon Dyson or Charl Schwartzel. The one question facing McIlroy is that this is first stop in North America this season. As far as #2 seed Jason Day is concerned, an inconsistent start is likely to have him gone by the second round.
Finally we come to arguably the strongest bracket, the Sam Snead division. And who else would we pick here that Tiger Woods, the #5 seed. Tiger doesn’t have to worry about beating the whole field, he just has to beat one other guy, and that should play into his favour. He will have plenty of tough competition though, as the likes of Nick Watney, Lee Westwood, Bill Haas and Webb Simpson all stand in his way. But Tiger looked like the Tiger of old in his first event this year, and getting back to the desert might be just what he needs.
One other quick note from the SSF stats desk. In the two years of the league, Brent is the only player to have ever won this event, picking up wins from Ian Poulter in 2010 and Luke Donald last year.