Many chances at WGC Accenture Match Play
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 WGC- Accenture Match Play Championship | Preview | 18 Feb 2014
The first World Golf Championship of 2014, (the WGC Accenture Match Play) begins on Wednesday (Arizona time) where the leading 64 available players from the world ranking will begin the six round match play championship.
Each of the opening five matches are of course over 18 holes with the final to be played over 36.
The event was first played in 1999 when it was the first ever World Golf Championship event, that year won by Jeff Maggert who defeated Andrew Magee in extra time. It was hardly the inspiring start the event needed and to some extent it has been on the back foot since.
After eight consecutive years at La Costa in California, the event moved to Dove Mountain near Tucson In Arizona in 2007 and has been played there since.
In 2014 three of the leading four players in the world ranking are absent. Three time winner, Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson are not playing for various reasons leaving Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Zach Johnson and Rory McIlroy to head their respective brackets.
Because of his top ranking in the event and because he has won the event previously Henrik Stenson will start the favourite although Stenson has not made it past the first round in each of his last four times to the event.
Stenson’s other problem is that he has not played well in the first few events of 2014 so he will be looking for a reversal of fortunes is he is to live up to his star billing this week.
Justin Rose is another who has struggled in this event in recent times. In eight starts at the Accenture he has made it to past the second round only twice, that coming in 2007 when he made the quarter finals. Rose has played only one event in 2014, that coming when finishing well back at last week’s Northern Trust Open.
Zach Johnson is however someone who is playing well in 2014. He has played only two events but contended on both occasions but he too has only been past the second round on one occasion in nine times to this event, that coming in 2006 when he finished 3rd.
Rory McIlroy appears to have found his mojo once again and having made the final in 2012 and finished 5th in 2009 then he might be a good chance. He played well in the Middle East and just four starts ago won the Australian Open in his only victory of 2013.
Matt Kuchar surprisingly missed the cut last week at Riviera his first missed cut in eighteen months. If he can bounce back like it is assumed he will Kuchar could again figure prominently in an event where he is the defending champion and has finished 3rd and 5th in two of his other three starts. He appears to be a very good chance.
Hunter Mahan is another with good prospects. He was runner-up last year after winning in 2012 and had put together a couple of good PGA Tour finishes this year.
Jason Day made the round of 16 in 2011 and finished 3rd last year and although disappointing at Pebble Beach that is perhaps not a fair reflection on his prospects this week. His runner-up finish at Torrey Pines three weeks ago is perhaps a better guide.
Sergio Garcia has not always played this event well but he seems at peace with himself and is playing well having won his last start in Qatar.
The only other Australian in the field in addition to Day is Marc Leishman who gets to play this event for the first time but has started the season well and could do well.