Accenture Match Play is anyone's guess
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2006 Accenture Match Play Championship | Preview | 22 Feb 2006
The Accenture Match Play Championship brings together the top 64 available world ranked players but the intriguing subtleties and vagaries of the Match Play format have not always assured the event of the best players left standing over the final two days.
Tiger Woods has saved the day for the tournament organisers on several occasions but on other occasions the match ups on the final day have not always been in keeping with the significance of the event.
David Toms will defend his title this season and as the defending champion and the runner up to Woods in 2003 he commands the upmost respect especially given the impressive form he has already displayed in 2006.
The tournament is again played over the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad California, the Dick Wilson designed layout built in 1965.
Woods will without a doubt be the favourite but there are arguments for others especially given the question mark over Woods’ health and the fact that he has been bundled out of the tournament by the lowly ranked players on two occasions. Australians Peter O’Malley (2002) and Nick O’Hern (2005) brought a quick end to Tiger’s favouritism on those occasions.
This year Woods faces Canadian resident, Stephen Ames, in round one. On paper this appears to be a mismatch but given the standard of golf required to even make this field any player is capable of beating another on any given day.
Vijay Singh is up against Graeme McDowell in his first round. Singh has never made it past the second round here so that offers some chance to McDowell despite the fact that the man from Northern Ireland started the year badly. McDowell beat Darren Clarke in round one here last year.
The world number three Retief Goosen faces Paul Broadhurst in what should be a reasonably good first round draw for the South African. Like Singh however Goosen has made it past the second round only once. His missed cut at the Johnnie Walker Classic and little golf of late leaves a question mark over his head.
Ernie Els has regained his world number four ranking but will face stiff competition in round one in Bernhard Langer. Langer has not played well in this particular event but he is more than capable of an upset.
Phil Mickelson has never made it beyond the quarter finals here but his form this year to date has been reasonable and he faces Charles Howell in round one who has not made it past the second round and who is hardly in great form at present.
Jim Furyk faces Zach Johnson in round one in a match that he would be expected to win. Furyk has not done all that well here but he does possess the quintessential match play game, built around mistake free approach.
Another who possesses a similar game and who has made rapid progress in world golf in the last eight months is Nick O’Hern. He has used his mistake free and strategic approach to the game to great effect on the two occasions he has been here reaching the quarter finals both times and claiming some impressive scalps in doing so. He faces Fred Funk in round one.
Adam Scott seems to be closing in on his best form with good weeks at the Johnnie Walker Classic and a very good last round last week at the Nissan. He has made the semi-finals once and the quarter finals twice on two of the four occasions he has been here and he could do even better on this occasion. He faces Lucas Glover in round one.
Chris DiMarco is another with impressive form in this event. He was the beaten finalist last year and his last hole win at the Presidents Cup in his match against Appleby has given him a new found confidence in such situations. He won in Abu Dhabi recently and although that form has cooled off a little since he could well be a serious factor this week.
The other Australsians in the field are the World Match Play Champion – Michael Campbell, Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby, Mark Hensby, Peter Lonard, Rod Pampling, Geoff Ogilvy and Steve Elkington.
Photo – Anthony Powter