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Sunday, February 17, 2013

WGC Accenture Match Play - Preview

The World Golf Championships (WGC) - Accenture Match Play is one of the hardest tournament of the year to preview and peg. There are two golf tournaments per year on the PGA TOUR that feature alternate scoring. This week is a match play and the Reno-Tahoe Open is a modified Stableford scoring system.

For those unfamiliar, the setup of this tournament is much like the NCAA College Basketball tournament. There are four brackets of 1-16 seeds that will ultimately spill into one final four. There is one major difference between trying to win this bracket and trying to win an NCAA tournament pool. In college basketball, the difference between the first seed and the 16th seed is massive in terms of talent and often experience. In golf, the difference between the best player in the world and the 66th best (2 guys w/d) is not nearly as big in an 18-hole match play format. One guy gets hot with the putter and Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods could have his hands full.

For gamers, there are a number of things to consider, and the format of your game means everything. First, don't burn an elite player in a one-and-done. Half the field loses out in the first round. You'll see guys shoot a 5-under and lose while another guy shoots a 2-over and wins. This isn't the week to use Rory or Tiger. Even consider burning a guy that doesn't play on the PGA TOUR, but shows up at WGCs and majors only. Branden Grace?

In other games like Yahoo! or the PGA TOUR game feel free to go chalk, but consider first round match ups. If Matt Kuchar draws a guy who's trending horribly, take Kuchar. Same with Nick Watney.

So what do you need to know about the course and the past history?

Here's the final four for the last four years, and how it played out.

2009

  1. Geoff Ogilvy
  2. Paul Casey
  3. Stewart Cink (won the Open Championship later that season)
  4. Ross Fisher (had a great run in the majors that year)
2010
  1. Ian Poulter
  2. Paul Casey
  3. Camilo Villegas
  4. Sergio Garcia
2011
  1. Luke Donald
  2. Martin Kaymer (fresh off of his win at the PGA Championship)
  3. Matt Kuchar
  4. Bubba Watson
2012
  1. Hunter Mahan (won a few months later in Houston)
  2. Rory McIlroy (rose to world #1 and won his second major later in the year)
  3. Mark Wilson 
  4. Lee Westwood
I count five American's out of 16. I notice Ryder Cup stalwarts like Serigo Garcia, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan. One strategy may be to take a hard look at the European Ryder Cup team to make a pick.

The course is The Golf Club at Dove Mountain and measures 7,833 as a par 72. Despite the length, we see that short to medium distance players like Mark Wilson and Luke Donald have done just fine. But, we also notice that bombers like Ross Fisher, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy have shown up. 

I've looked at this tournament a number of ways and considered the past history. I've come to this conclusion. You can't account for all the variables that match play offers. 

Ian Poulter looks like a guy who will never lose in an event like this, but since his win in 2010 he lost out in the first round in each of the last two seasons. 

Rather than a power ranking, I will post my bracket tomorrow night, and will also offer a very brief preview of each of the first round matches. I will not preview "what if" scenarios after the first round.

Once the brackets come out, if you have specific questions feel free to shoot them my way.

Best of luck in your research!

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