2011 WGC Accenture Match Play Championsip, Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain, AZ
Wednesday, February 23-Sunday, February 27, 2011, TV: Golf Channel, NBC
Defending Champion: Ian Poulter
About 3 weeks before March Madness happens in College basketball, Pro golf has it’s own bracket event. Call it February Frenzy if you will, The WGC Accenture Match Play Championship is always one of the most anticipated events on the PGA tour. The top 64 players in the world are divided into 4 brackets with 16 players each named after 4 of the greatest golfers in history, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Sam Snead. The Match-play is a very grueling event as you have to play one match a day until you get to the quarterfinals. Then you have to play 2 match-ups a day. In match play any player can beat any other player on any given day. Even a 16 seed can beet a 1 seed in the first round. The four number one seeds are Lee Westwood (Jones Bracket), Phil Mickelson (Hogan Bracket), Martin Kaymer (Player Bracket), and Tiger Woods (Snead Bracket).
The WGC Accenture Match Play is played at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Dove Mountain, Arizona. The course can be stretched to 7,849 yards which is the longest course on tour. It is a par 72 course and this is the 4th time it has hosted the Match Play Championship.
Here is a look at each bracket with some of the contenders and their odds to win the tournament and the bracket. All odds are courtesy of bodog.
Bobby Jones Bracket
Though Lee Westwood (6/1 bracket, 18/1 tournament) is the number 1 player in the world and in this bracket, he has never advanced past the 2nd round in ten tries at this event. He has a brutal first round match with Henrik Stenson (25/1 bracket, 80/1 tournament) who won this event in 2007. Other contenders in this bracket include Steve Stricker (13/2 b, 28/1 t), Luke Donald (8/1 b, 28/1 t), Retief Goosen (10/1 b, 33/1 t), Nick Watney (7/1 b, 28/1 t), The Molinari Brothers, Francesco (14/1 b, 50/1 t) & Edoardo (14/1 b, 66/1 t), Charl Schwartzel (10/1 b, 40/1 t), Anthony Kim (16/1 b, 66/1 t), and K.J. Choi (18/1 b, 50/1 t).
Some potential match-ups of interest would be Donald-Stricker in the sweet 16 and the Molinari brothers int eh quarters.
My pick to win the bracket is Nick Watney. Watney has a tough first round match-up with Anthony Kim and the winner of that will play the winner of Westwood-Stenson in the second round. Watney has the accuracy on approach shots to do well at this course.
Gary Player Bracket
The Gary Player Bracket could be the most difficult of the four brackets, right up there with the Hogan bracket. This could be the bracket that a sleeper comes out of. You have some brutal first round match-ups such as Justin Rose-Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan-Sean O’Hair, Rory McIlroy-Jonathan Byrd, Adam-Scott-Ben Crane, and Jim Furyk-Ryan Palmer. That isn’t even mentioning Martin Kaymer who might be playing the best golf in the world. Looking ahead you could have some great potential match-ups in future rounds, like Jim Furyk and Miguel Angel-Jimenez in the second round, Furyk-McIlroy in the 3rd round, and Robert Karlsson-Hunter Mahan in the 2nd round.
Like Westwood, Kaymer hasn’t advanced past the 2nd round at this event, albeit only in 3 tries. I think he could be upset by the survivor of Johnson-Rose in the second round.
Here are a list of some of the contenders and their odds. Martin Kaymer (4/1 b, 14/1 t), Rory McIlroy (9/2 bracket, 16/1 t), Hunter Mahan (13/2 b, 33/1 t), Jim Furyk (9/1 b, 40/1 t), Robert Karlsson (11/1 b, 50/1 t), Adam Scott (12/1 b, 50/1 t), Justin Rose (14/1 b, 50/1), Miguel Angel-Jimenez (18/1 b, 80/1 t), Zach Johnson (20/1 b, 80/1 t), Sean O’Hair (22/1 b, 80/1 t), Ryan Palmer (25/1 b, 80/1 t), and Jonathan Byrd (28/1 b, 100/1 t).
My pick to win the bracket is Sean O’Hair.
Ben Hogan Bracket
The Hogan bracket includes 3 of the 4 major title winners from last year, including Phil Mickelson (Masters) (5/1 b, 18/1 t), Graeme McDowell (U.S. Open) (5/1 b, 22/1 t) and Louis Oosthuizen (British) (12/1 b. 66/1 t) along with defending match play champion Ian Poulter (7/1 b, 25/1 t), Rickie Fowler (11/1 b, 40/1 t), Matt Kuchar (8/1 b, 33/1 t), Robert Allenby (14/1 b 50/1 t), Stewart Cink (16/1 b 50/1 t), Alvaro Quiros (10/1 b, 33/1 t) and Y.E. Yang. Talk about a loaded bracket.
You could have some sweet potential match-ups like Mickelson-Fowler in the 2nd round, Mickelson-Kuchar in the sweet 16, or McDowell-Poulter also in the sweet 16. The bottom line is any of those that I listed can win the bracket.
My pick is Matt Kuchar, who is one of the most consistent players in the world a trait vital to succeeding in match play.
Sam Snead Bracket
The Snead bracket is top heavy. It doesn’t have as much star power top to bottom as the Hogan or player brackets but it does have Tiger Woods (4/1 b, 10/1 t) and Geoff Ogilvy (7/1 b, 25/1) who have won this event before. Paul Casey (4/1 b, 14/1 t) has been the runner up twice in a row at this event. Camilo Villegas (18/1 b, 66/1 t) finished third here last year. Other contenders in the Snead Bracket include Dustin Johnson (9/1 b, 25/1 t), Ernie Els (10/1 b, 33/1 t), Bill Haas (12/1 b, 50/1 t), Bubba Watson (14/1 b, 66/1 t), Padraig Harrington (16/1 b, 40/1 t), Jason Day (16/1 b, 80/1 t), and Jeff Overton (18/1 b, 80/1)
Though I along with the rest of the golf world am waiting for Tiger to return to form, I don’t see it happening here. He has a moderately tough opening match-up with Thomas Bjorn, then a brutal second round match-up with the winner of Ogilvy and Harrington. If he survives that then his quarterfinal match-up projected to be either Dustin Johnson or Bubba Watson could be even tougher with potentially Casey or Els lurking in the quarters. I just don’t see Tiger turning it around with such a tough road.
My pick is Casey to come out of this bracket. He loves this course.
I also like Casey to finally break through and win the whole thing, defeating Matt Kuchar in the finals. It should be a great tournament and it is wide open as match play usually is.