We have the best players in the world all congregating in Marana, Arizona to compete in a Match Play formatted tournament. This week the golf starts on Wednesday and will continue all the way to Sunday afternoon. The Accenture Match Play Championship is one of my favourite tournaments of the year and this week looks like it will have no shortage of excitement and drama for its viewers.
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain
The PGA professionals will be attempting to conquer a course designed by one of the all-time greats of their game, Jack Nicklaus. Jack designed this golf course not only as one that could hold a PGA event, but as an experience for any avid golfer to attend. The course is set up so fans are very close to the action, with exciting shots to be witnessed and enjoyed.
The Golf Club is a 27 Hole design, but they have two Championship nines the players will be playing. At a combined 7849 yards, the players will be hitting the ball a long, long way, to score well on this Par 72 beast.
With a legend like Nicklaus designing the course, you know he took every detail into consideration to challenge the professionals of today. The course has length as previously mentioned, but it also has interesting elevation changes, various styles of bunkers, and carefully shaped greens. As this course is in the desert, you will see some players this week having to deal with shots from the natural sand and around some interesting vegetation.
My favorite hole on this gorgeous course is Number 15. This is a drivable Par 4 that stretches out 343 yards in length, but is a hole that tends to be near the end of many matches. The average length of a match is 16 holes which makes the 15th even more exciting. We will see eagles, we will see birdies and we will see matches end on this great hole.
This week we have almost every big name in the world competing in the event. Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, and Henrik Stenson are just a few of the big names you will watching this week. Obviously the three big omissions are Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Adam Scott. Though it would terrific to have these players competing this week, the talent is still unbelievable.
With the format being Match Play, the players are forced to accelerate their game plans as they are in an 18 Hole battle, as opposed to the usual 72 hole tournament. Fitness comes into play as players have the potential of playing 6 matches if they are good enough to make it to the finals.
The tournament will be decided over 5 days, with the rare Wednesday start. This will be the 5th season the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club (Dove Mountain) has hosted the event. Previous winners while at this course are (Geoff Ogilvy (2009), Ian Poulter (2010), Luke Donald (2011), Hunter Mahan (2012), and Matt Kuchar(2013).
When it comes to the WGC Accenture Match Play bracket, do not look too far into the players rankings. This is far from the NCAA Tournament bracket where a number 1 seed has never lost in the 1st round. To be successful at predicting this tournament you have to look at current form and the players path to the finals.
Steve’s Outright Winner Picks
KEEGAN BRADLEY 45 TO 1 – Keegan possesses the intensity needed to succeed in this format. He has shown this passion while playing with Phil Mickelson for Team USA and will be excited about this week. His first round match up is against Jonas Blixt, a young Swedish player who has already picked up a couple of wins on Tour. I do however feel that Keegan will be able to overpower the Par 5’s and short Par 4’s, and take out Blixt with ease. Keegan will improve on his 1-2 record at this event, and he will use his driver this week to do it. Keegan has Top 20 finishes in six of his past seven starts, and just seems primed to pick up that first win since the 2012 WGC – Bridgestone Invitational.
Head to Head Daily Match Up Picks
Round 1 Match Up Picks
*Sent to members only – Head to Head Match ups will be sent out each evening after the next round is set to members as well.