Accenture brings game's elite together
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2013 WGC- Accenture Match Play Championship | Preview | 19 Feb 2013
The first World Golf Championship event of 2013 begins on Wednesday when the Accenture Match Play gets underway at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain at Marana in Arizona where the game’s leading 64 available players from the world ranking will face off against each other.
The event, first played following the introduction of World Golf Championship events in 1999, has grown into a far more popular spectacle than was the case when Jeff Maggert defeated Andrew McGee that first year in California.
The event stayed in California until 2007 before being played initially at the Gallery Golf Club in Marana then the Ritz Carlton Golf Club since 2009.
The beauty or perhaps in some people’s eyes the weakness of the event is that it is a sprint rather than a marathon. Not that it can be any other way given the logistics of 36 hole matches and it does create the opportunity for any player in this field to beat another on any given day over 18 holes.
It does however leave a feeling that the best player does not always get the best chance to win the event which for a World Golf Championship event is hardly ideal.
This year the defending champion will be Hunter Mahan who defeated Rory McIlroy 2&1 in the final to win the first of two events in 2012. It was the first time that Mahan had made it past the round of 16 in five visits to the event.
Mahan has been playing solidly in the first few events of the season and another good tournament this week would not surprise.
McIlroy on the other hand is playing just the second event of the year after missing the cut in his first in Dubai a month ago. McIlroy plays under the added pressure of the scrutiny he is under for a significant equipment change this season.
McIlroy made it to the Quarter Finals here in his debut in the event in 2009 but in two other starts until his great week last year he made it only to the second round.
Tiger Woods has been a three time winner and once runner-up at the Accenture but he has also been beaten in the first or second round on four occasions. He is such a great match player however that he is still the most feared player that the rest of the field will face.
A missed cut in Abu Dhabi was a surprise for Woods but he then won at his favourite venue at Torrey Pines indicating that his game is in very good shape.
Luke Donald played his first event of the season last week in Los Angeles and did well enough when 16th. In eight attempts in this event Donald has made it past the round of 16 on one occasion and that was when he won in 2011.
Ian Poulter is a proven match player with a win in this event, a win at the Volvo Match Play and a Ryder Cup record that is second to none. Poulter has played just once this season when 9th at the Hyundai season opener.
Matt Kuchar has played this event well, having been to the quarters or semis on two of his three visits. Kuchar is playing well enough this season for this record to continue and perhaps improve.
Sergio Garcia presents himself as a player who handles match play well and as a player who has not been outside the top twenty in his last seven starts worldwide there is clear evidence he is in good form.
Four Australians, Adam Scott, Jason Day, John Senden and Marcus Fraser. This represents the lowest number in several years, perhaps ever in the event’s history.
Scott played well in his season debut last week when 10th at Riviera. Scott played this event well earlier in his career but in recent years has not made it past the second round in any of the past seven years. Scott plays South African Tim Clark on Wednesday.
Jason Day has been inside the top ten in two of three starts this season, a significant turnaround to a tough year in 2012. Day has played the event twice making it to the Round of 16 in 2011. Day plays Zach Johnson in the opening round.
John Senden has also played the event twice, his best coming last year when making it to the Round of 16. Senden has not started the year all that well and that will be a concern for his admirers. Senden plays Bo Van Pelt on day one.
Marcus Fraser is playing the event for the first occasion. He has played quite nicely so far this season but is an unknown quantity at this event. Fraser will tackle Keegan Bradley in round one.
Australians have had a record of giant killing including when both Nick O’Hern and Peter O’Malley defeated Tiger Woods in early rounds.
The tournament begins on Wednesday.
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