I’ve got a new theory for March Madness this year. Considering I’m known to correctly guess 0-1 Final Four participants each year and sit at approximately 0 for 75 lifetime in NCAA pools, I’m going to try to get some of my bad luck out of the way. If there’s anything more unpredictable than the NCAA tournament, it’s the Accenture World Match Play Championship. It’s not will a #1 seed lose early, it’s how many will lose in the opening round? So, while I fill out every online contest I can find, in a pursuit to leave the 11th percentile, here’s some inconsequential talk about the golf tournament.
#1 Seeds: Tiger, Rory, Luke Donald and Louis Oosthuizen
All eyes are on Rory since he hasn’t been seen since his season opening 75-75-adios in Abu Dhabi. The World #1 was obviously rusty, but the only equipment concern should be with his putter. McIlroy plays longtime friend Shane Lowery of Ireland in the opening round, which could help him get off to a good start.
Five 2nd Round Matchups I
will jinx Want to See:
Despite the depth of the field, there isn’t one match in the first round that jumps off the page at me. I imagine for a more casual golf fan that feeling might be even more intense. But, if some matches turn out on Wednesday the 2nd round could be full of highlights. My preferences:
Rory McIlroy vs. Rickie Fowler. McIlroy has to get by the aforementioned Lowery while Fowler will face Carl Pettersson. Fowler has shown flashes of brilliance in this event, but has never strung together a full week–something typical of his career to this point.
Tiger Woods vs. Francesco Molinari. Everyone loves to compare Tiger to Michael Jordan. One place they are similar? The perceived slight. Molinari could have conceded a putt last year when the Ryder Cup was decided. He didn’t, Tiger missed and lost the match. Could something like that inspire Tiger to a signature thrashing?
Dustin Johnson vs. Graeme McDowell. Johnson already has a win this year and has made the “Paulina Gretzky following DJ (at fill in tournament) Slide Show” a staple at Golf.com. McDowell, like pretty much every golfer born in Europe after 1975 seems to be a match play killer.
Hunter Mahan vs. Jason Dufner. Mahan is the defending champion. I’m curious about Dufner. I like the guy, but people seem to have rushed a bit to put him near the top of the game. I want to see how he fares this week as a top seed.
Keegan Bradley vs. Ernie Els. Two guys who use an anchored putter and won majors. Were they the last straw for the USGA? If you watched the Ryder Cup you know Keegan Bradley was out of his mind. Hard to believe he’ll be at that level of intensity and if he is he won’t last the five days. Els has been a god in the Match Play at Wentworth, can he add this title?
Five First Round Upsets:
Chris Wood (15) over Bubba Watson (2). Bubba played terrible at Riviera. I don’t see him snapping out of it this week. Chris Wood won earlier this year in Qatar.
Padraig Harrinton (12) over Graeme McDowell (5). What better way to prepare for the NCAAs than pick a 12/5 right? Harrington is on what is probably his 30th swing incarnation of the last five years, and hasn’t played well the last two weeks, but I think he’s got a chance to slip by McDowell who isn’t exactly on top form.
Frederick Jacobsen (12) over Ernie Els (5). Two 12/5s are better than one. Jacobsen is coming off two straight top-5 finishes. Not a real closer in stroke play events, but taking possibly the best putter in the world is never a bad choice in match play.
Henrik Stenson (13) over Steve Stricker (4). Stenson has a pretty good record in this event and has come back from some pretty significant struggles. Steve Stricker is playing a reduced schedule and its hard to believe he’s sharp since he hasn’t played since Hawaii.
Ryan Moore (10) over Jim Furyk (7). Not a huge upset, but considering Furyk’s recent performances in big spots and that Moore was an amateur match play killer, I’ll take the guy with funny shoes who occasionally wears bad ties.
My Final Four: Tiger Woods, Charl Schwartzel, Sergio Garcia, and Nick Watney.