WGC Accenture Match Play round one: Thank your lucky stars for Tiger Woods
Wow! Wasn’t that lucky! No, not Tiger Woods’s recovery against J B Holmes, but the fact that his survival saves the competition from going prematurely flat. However, I throw the word in as it seems from comments I read there is a conspiracy afoot, of which I am apparently a part, to say everything Phil Mickelson does is lucky and everything Woods does is down to sheer brilliance. Is there a problem with that?
I jest - a bit. I have to, because even Tiger admits Wednesday’s result owed something to luck, mainly the way Holmes opened the door with a three-putt mistake on the 15th. But hang on a minute: birdie, birdie, birdie, eagle down the back nine wasn’t luck. That was as gutsy a comeback from the slough of despond as you could hope for. That’s what marks Tiger out - even when he’s as bad as he was Wednesday, he’s good. Whereas against the emotionally challenged Pat Perez, Lefty was, weeeell, a wee bit …
Moving swiftly on, the other big question is what Ernie Els is going to do about his carbon footprint, which must have exploded to planet-threatening proportions with his utterly pointless journey across the pond for this event. Why on earth did he go? The extent of Jonathan Byrd’s victory was embarrassing. Stick to Wentworth Ernie.
So, who might have surprises up their sleeves on day two, apart from everyone?
Jones bracket: K J Choi’s numbers outclass Ian Poulter, but the Englishman is not so easy to write off in match play. While Paul Casey has the numbers on his side, who is to say what giant-slayer Bradley Dredge (Els last year, Rory Sabbatini this) will throw at him?
Player bracket: Now we’ll see how lucky Lefty is as he goes up against an in-form Stuart Appleby who, like Mickelson, comes to this from three top tens this year (although not a win). Neither is a match play star, but Phil has the slight edge. Niclas Fasth could well put one over on Vijay Singh, who struggled into overtime for Wednesday’s result.
Meanwhile, down Mexico way: A small tournament is taking place of which few players of any magnitude are taking part and hardly many more punters care about it. I’m steering clear of the Mayakoba Classic at least until the end of the week because of the exceptionally poor media coverage, the complete lack of in-play stats and the fact that with so few betting on it liquidity is almost nil.
However, a quick look over my numbers, with an emphasis on accuracy off the tee and iron work, makes Joe Durant a worthy favourite as he tops the bill. His putting lets him down, as it does Fred Funk, another year older and deeper in riches after last year’s victory, but with equally chart-topping stats otherwise. He might be up for a repeat if his back is up to it.
Peter Lonard was third here last year and after three missed cuts played himself back into shape with a 22nd place last week. It must be those other results that put him at the bottom of the stats table.
It’s not often you will catch the likes of Steve Marino at the top of a betting list, but he shares top spot with Durant on the back of an eighth place here last year and some decent stats not entirely backed up by the results they achieved this season. The same could be said in spades for Robert Gamez, who on paper is another contender. One player I wouldn’t fancy is Bubba Watson, as I think he might have some issues with the rough.
Matt Kuchar and Parker McLachlin did quite well here last year and are having good seasons and, if the wind kicks up like last year, don’t be surprised if last year’s playoff loser Jose Coceres is back in the hunt.
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