My Picks For the Accenture Match Play Championship

The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship  begins Wednesday in Marana, AZ.

The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship begins Wednesday in Marana, AZ.

I’m going to do two types of picks for the Accenture Match Play Championship. I’ll fill out a complete bracket (DimpleHead Bracket), NCAA tournament-style and that will be the “official bracket”. I’m also going to make round-by-round picks, just to keep it interesting, once my “official bracket” has been busted once my eventual champion is ousted in the first round (because that surely will happen). Without further ado, here are the “Official DimpleHead Golf 2013 Accenture Match Play Championship Bracket” picks (winners in bold):

Round 1

Bobby Jones Bracket:

1)   Rory McIlroy vs. 16) Shane Lowry – McIlroy easily dispatches his former amateur partner 3&2.

8)   Rickie Fowler vs. 9) Carl Pettersson – Although Fowler boat-raced Phil a couple of years ago, I see Pettersson and his long putter taking this 3&1.

1)   Dustin Johnson vs. 13) Alexander Noren – Until last year, DJ had never made it out of the 1st round, but neither has Noren. DJ’s recent form after his win in Kapalua makes me lean toward Noren.

2)   Graeme McDowell vs. 12) Padraig Harrington – The second Irish Showdown in this bracket. Both players coming off a missed cut at Riviera makes this a toss-up…heads for G-Mac, tails for Paddy…it’s tails…Harrington 1up

2)   Bubba Watson vs. 15) Chris Wood – Wood recently won his first event on the European Tour and is making his debut at the Match Play while Bubba has been spotty so far this year. But Dove Mountain rewards aggressive play, and Bubba is great at that, 4&2 Watson.

7)   Jim Furyk vs. 10) Ryan Moore – Moore has a tremendous amateur match play record and reached the quarter finals in 2011. Furyk has never been past the 3rd round. 2&1 Moore.

3)   Charl Schwartzel vs. 14) Russell Henley – Schwartzel is the hottest player in the game right now, Brandt Snedeker notwithstanding.  The 2011 Masters champ has not finished outside the top 5 since OCTOBER! Henley will keep it close with his putting, but Schwartzel will pull away 2up.

3)   Zach Johnson vs. 11) Jason Day – in what will surely be the longest match of the day, Day pulls away to start a resurgent year. It won’t be easy for the players, or spectators. In an “I should take a five-hour energy to get through this” match, it’s Day 3&2. (*Note: expect it to still take close to five hours for just 16 holes)

Gary Player Bracket:

1)      Tiger Woods vs. 16) Charles Howell III – The former Isleworth neighbors should have a good match here. I think Tiger holds off Howell though, 2&1.

8)      Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño vs.9) Francesco Molinari – Molinari is a superb ball-striker which should suit him well in the expected windy and cold conditions, 2up.

4)      Webb Simpson vs. 13) David Lynn – The reigning US Open champion is rounding into form after his top10 at Riviera last week. Lynn is making his AMPC debut and it will be a short visit to Dove Mountain for him. 4&2 Webb.

5)      Peter Hanson vs. 12) Thomas Bjørn – Hanson has shown himself to be a world-class player over the last three years, while Bjørn has had a renaissance in his career over the same period. I think Hanson holds on in the longest match (by number of holes) in the first round, 21 holes.

2)      Lee Westwood vs. Rafael Cabrera-Bello – After a career-best 4th place finish last year, Westwood will continue his good form in the first round. Cabrera-Bello is coming off an MC at Pebble Beach and will be no match for Westwood, 5&4.

7)      Martin Kaymer vs. 10) George Coetzee – Kaymer has played ok to start 2013, Coetzee has been a part of the South African Revolution with the likes of Schwartzel, Oosthuizen, and Branden Grace. Coetzee continues his strong form 3&2.

3)      Jason Dufner vs. 14) Richard Sterne – Sterne is another South African with a great start to 2013. I think Dufner’s steady play and solid ball-striking carry the day, 3&1.

6)      Hunter Mahan vs. 11) Matteo Manassero – Since moving to Dove Mountain in 2009, the record of the defending champions has been abysmal including 2010 and 2011 champions Ian Poulter and Luke Donald ending their respective title defenses with a first round exit. Sadly for Mahan, he continues this streak. Manassero’s list of conquests include Stricker, Schwartzel and Simpson. Add Mahan to that impressive list, 1up.

Ben Hogan Bracket:

1)      Louis Oosthuizen vs. 16) Richie Ramsey – Ramsey won the ’06 US Amateur. Louis is the co-chairman of the South African Revolution (with Charl Schwartzel). Although Louis is a 1 seed because of Brandt Snedeker’s absence, he easily dispatches Ramsey 5&4

8)      Branden Grace vs. 9) Robert Garrigus – Two first-timers. Grace is second to Tiger and Rory for most worldwide wins in 2012-13 with 4, he has game. Garrigus can pound the ball with the longest players on tour, which will help his cause at Dove Mountain, but not enough to beat Grace, 2&1.

4)      Keegan Bradley vs. 13) Marcus Fraser – I thought Keegan Bradley was a one-hit wonder in 2011. I was wrong. This guy can play and his length will carry him, literally past Fraser, the Austrian, 6&5.

5)      Ernie Els vs. 12) Fredrik Jacobson – Els has a surprisingly poor record in this event, getting out of the second round only twice. After watching him at Pebble Beach and Riviera I’m mostly convinced that Jacobson can get up and down from anywhere, which is good because that’s where he tends to hit it. A scrambling Houdini like Jacobson can frustrate a ball-striker like Els. In 20 holes “Freddie Jac” (soft J) moves on.

2)      Justin Rose vs. 15) K.J. Choi – This is a GREAT match on paper. The sweet-swinging, super-ball-striker Rose against the steady-Eddie, unflappable Choi. Full disclosure: KJ is one of my favorite players on Tour, but Justin Rose is too good right now, he wins 4&2.

7)      Bill Haas vs. 10) Nicolas Colsaerts – Haas struggled last Sunday at Riviera, giving up the 54-hole lead. Colsaerts hasn’t made a cut in the US this year. But the Belgian’s length takes him to the second round, 3&2.

3)      Sergio Garcia vs. Thongchai Jaidee – Don’t let Jaidee lure you into a false sense of security, he made it to the quarterfinals in 2010, losing to eventual champ Ian Poulter on the last hole, he’s no slouch. Sergio’s record at the Match Play leaves something to be desired, much like the rest of his career, but he is playing well at the moment. Sergio wins in 19 holes.

6)      Matt Kuchar vs. 11) Hiroyuki Fujita – Kuchar made the semifinals in ’11 and the quarterfinals in ’12. He is absolutely one of the most consistent players in the world. Fujita is the player whom I know the least about in the entire field. He won four times last year on the Japanese Tour. Kuchar seems to like this course, given his recent record so he’ll cruise to a 3&1 win.

Sam Snead Bracket:

1)      Luke Donald vs. 16) Marcel Siem – This will be the most lopsided match in round 1, and we’ll all think Luke Donald is going to win going, never seeing the 18th hole like in 2011. Luke will win this one going away 6&5, but just wait on the rest of that prediction.

8)    Paul Lawrie vs. 9) Scott Piercy – Lawrie is on his second life as a pro while Piercy is just entering

his first. No analysis beyond that…coin flip: heads-Lawrie, tails-Piercy…heads, Lawrie 2&1.

4)      Steve Stricker vs. 13) Henrik Stenson – The only first round match pitting former champions. Contrasting styles between these players will make this a sneaky-good match. Stricker’s short game and putting against Stenson’s bombs. Neither player has a great record at Dove Mountain but I’ll take Stricker to make more putts and pull away 5&3.

5)      Nick Watney vs. 12) David Toms – This is another great contrast between the length of Watney and the accuracy of Toms, who won the event in 2005. In the end Watney has been in better form lately, so he’ll hold off Toms 1up.

2)      Adam Scott vs. 15) Tim Clark – This match might tell us everything about what kind of week Adam Scott will have. If he makes putts he’ll go deep in the tournament. If he’s cold with he’ll lose to the consistent Clark, which is what will happen. Tim’s lack of length will not affect him against Scott because Clark is one of the best fairway wood players in the game. Clark 2&1.

7)    Jamie Donaldson vs. 10) Thorbjørn Oleson – Olesen is the sexy pick this week with good reason. He has been among the hottest players on the European Tour. Donaldson held off Justin Rose in Abu Dhabi, but I think Oleson has a second coming out party (after last year’s good showing paired with Tiger at the Open Championship), 4&3.

3)      Ian Poulter vs. 14) Stephen Gallacher – It seems Poulter is the natural pick as he might be the best match player in the world, if not the player who loves match play the most. Bear in mind that Poults has not played since the Tournament of Champions while Gallacher won his last start in Dubai. That said, I think Poulter wins in 19 holes.

6)      Bo Van Pelt vs. 11) John Senden – There may not be a mis-hit shot in this entire match as two of the premier ball-strikers on tour square off. The difference will be who makes putts. BVP is a better putter, so he’ll move on 4&3.

Round 2

I’ll save the explanations for when I make picks on the real matchups. Just my picks match by match, winners in bold:

Bobby Jones Bracket:

1)      Rory McIlroy vs. 9) Carl Pettersson

12)   Padraig Harrington vs. 13) Alexander Noren

2)      Bubba Watson vs. 10) Ryan Moore

3)      Charl Schwartzel vs. 11) Jason Day

Gary Player Bracket:

1)      Tiger Woods vs. 9) Francesco Molinari

4)      Webb Simpson vs. 5) Peter Hanson

2)      Lee Westwood vs. 10) George Coetzee

3)      Jason Dufner vs. 11) Matteo Manassero

Ben Hogan Bracket:

1)      Louis Oosthuizen vs. 8) Brendan Grace

4)      Keegan Bradley vs. 12) Fredrik Jacobson

2)      Justin Rose vs. 10) Nicolas Colsaerts

3)      Sergio Garcia vs. 6) Matt Kuchar

Sam Snead Bracket:

1)      Luke Donald vs. 8) Paul Lawrie

4)      Steve Stricker vs. 5) Nick Watney

15)  Tim Clark vs. 10) Thorbjørn Olesen

3) Ian Poulter vs. 6) Bo Van Pelt

Round 3

Again, no explanations just my picks match by match, winners in bold:

Bobby Jones Bracket:

1)      Rory McIlroy vs. 12) Padraig Harrington

3)    Charl Schwartzel vs. 10) Ryan Moore

Gary Player Bracket:

1)      Tiger Woods vs. 5) Peter Hanson

2)   Lee Westwood vs. 10) Matteo Manassero

Ben Hogan Bracket:

8)    Brendan Grace vs. 12) Fredrik Jacobson

2)      Justin Rose vs. 6) Matt Kuchar

Sam Snead Bracket:

1)      Luke Donald vs. 4) Steve Stricker

6)    Bo Van Pelt vs. 10) Thorbjørn Olesen

Quarterfinals

Bobby Jones Bracket:

1)      Rory McIlroly vs. 3) Charl Schwartzel

Gary Player Bracket:

2)      Lee Westwood vs. 5) Peter Hanson

Ben Hogan Bracket:

2)    Justin Rose vs. 8) Branden Grace

Sam Snead Bracket:

3)      Steve Stricker vs. 10) Thorbjørn Olesen

Semifinals

Charl Schwartzel vs. Justin Rose

Peter Hanson vs. Thorbjørn Olesen

Consolation Match

Charl Schwartzel vs. Thorbjørn Olesen

Finals

Justin Rose vs. Peter Hanson

 

So there you are, Justin Rose captures his second World Golf Championship. This will surely fuel the fire of major championship expectations for Rose, as it did with Mahan, Donald and Poulter before him. I didn’t pick Justin to win a major this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the 6th ranked player in the world won a major at all.

Yes, I have Tiger Woods exiting in the 3rd round. He doesn’t not care for this golf course and it will show this week, again. Thorbjørn Olesen will be the name on everyone’s lips Sunday. He will also be the most mispronounced name on the broadcasts. Rory’s play will silence the silly talk that he was uncomfortable with his new equipment. Charl Schwartzel will plant himself among the favorites at Augusta with his continued hot play (another top 5 finish). The weather will suck Wednesday and might delay things to Thursday, but the tournament will finish on time and weather won’t be a factor by the weekend. Wednesday of the Match Play is one of the most exciting days in golf, so enjoy!

 

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