World Golf Championships
Accenture Match Play
The Golf Club at Dove Mountain
Jack Nicklaus Signature Course
Jack Nicklaus Signature Course
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Bentgass; 6,000 square feet on average
Rough: Bermudagrass and ryegrass at 3 inches
Water Hazards: 1
Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus (2005)
Winner’s Share: $1,530,000
FexExCup Points: 550 to the winner
Defending Champion: Matt Kuchar defeated Hunter Mahan, the 2012 champion, 2 & 1 to win his first WGC title.
Dates: February 19-23
Format: The field of 64 players will play match play to determine the champion. No matches will EVER be “dormie” because each match must have a winner. Unlike the Volvo World Match Play, this is a single-elimination event.
Notes: The field is set with 64 players. If there are any WDs, the alternate, regardless of ranking, will slide into the field. The field WILL NOT be recalibrated based on ranking.
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won the first 13 events of 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed, Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler and Bubba Watson have kept the engravers busy this fall and winter.
After racking up 12 first-time winners in 2013, the new season has added only two more in the first 13 events as Jimmy Walker (Frys.com) and Kevin Stadler (WMPO) have broken their maidens. Both guys are in their mid-30s as well.
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has racked up three victories on his own. He is joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler, 33, at WMPO and now Bubba Watson, 35, at Riviera. Scott Stallings, 28, Patrick Reed (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29) and Harris English, (24) are the twenty-somethings on the board. The Young Guns now have six of 12 wins to start the season. The Old Guys haven’t had any luck as Phil Mickelson has had back and putting problems. Jim Furyk has only played two events but that’s one more than Steve Stricker! K.J. Choi, which has been the case often this season, flew the flag for the old guys with T12 last week in Los Angeles.
Pay Attention: It’s FREE
The World Golf Championships (WGC) events are loaded with the best fields in golf. The winners of these tournaments are consistently major forces in the world of golf. Since the inception of these events in 1999, Kevin Sutherland is the ONLY winner not to play on a President’s Cup or Ryder Cup team.
Gamers, if you are horsing for coursing, please remember that the Match Play moved to Dove Mountain in 2009.
In the 50 events that now count as WGC events, only 10 winners have NOT been major champions. Check out this list!
Jeff Maggert: 1999 Match Play inaugural champion; THREE-time Ryder Cupper
Steve Stricker: 2001 Match Play champ; Do I need to list his credentials?
Craig Parry: 2002 Bridgestone Invitational; THREE-time President’s Cupper
Kevin Sutherland: 2002 Match Play champ
Henrik Stenson: 2007 Match Play champ; He won EVERYTHING last year plus a PLAYERS
Ian Poulter: 2010 Match Play champ; 2012 HSBC Champions winner; Destroys the US in Ryder Cups.
Francesco Molinari: 2010 HSBC Champions winner; two-time Ryder Cupper
Hunter Mahan: 2010 Bridgestone Invitational champ; 2012 Match Play champ
Nick Watney: 2011 Cadillac Championship; President’s Cupper in 2011
Matt Kuchar: 2013 Match Play champ; also won 2012 PLAYERS; two-time Ryder Cupper
Those are the WORST guys that have won this event! The other 40 victories are by major champions. That’s unbelievable.
Since moving to Dove Mountain in 2009, the rest of the world has three of the five wins but the U.S. has won the last two.
Kevin Sutherland’s only victory in his career on TOUR was his Match Play title in 2002.
Tiger Woods and Geoff Ogilvy are the only multiple winners of this event.
Woods is the only player to defend his Match Play title. Shocking, I know…
The largest margin of victory in this event is Woods over Stephen Ames, 9 & 8.
64 of the 67 best players, according to the OWGR are in the field this week.
Ian Poulter and Luke Donald are the players in the field with the most wins in this event.
In the last 15 years, there are have been all-American finals SEVEN times.
The No. 1 overall seed has NOT seen round three since 2008. Henrik Stenson has that streak to break this year.
The four, No.1 seeds have never all met in the semifinals so remember that when filling out your bracket. #chalkdust
Past Champions in the Field
2013 Matt Kuchar
2012 Hunter Mahan
2011 Luke Donald
2010 Ian Poulter
2007 Henrik Stenson
2001 Steve Stricker
Raise Your Hand if you are NOT Here
World No. 1 Tiger Woods, No. Adam Scott and No. 4 Phil Mickelson are absent this week. This is excellent news for gamers as Woods and Scott have been knocked out early in this event in recent years. Mickelson will not play for the fourth time in five years so not surprising he’s not here.
The three players listed above have been replaced by No. 65 Richard Sterne (South Africa), No. 66 Scott Piercy (USA) and No. 67 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand).
Patrick Reed, Victor Dubuisson and Brendon de Jonge are playing in their first WGC tournament.
There are 20, first-time Match Players this week.
Unlike the NCAA tournament, the No. 16 has defeated the No. 1 seed four times in history. Last year, Shane Lowry beat Rory McIlroy to the chagrin of gamers.
Inside the Ropes
The Jack Nicklaus Signature Course has been home to this event since 2009, the year it opened. There has been snow, rain, wind, frost, fog and just about everything except searing heat in the high Sonoran desert over the years so if match play wasn’t grueling enough, players will have to prepare for the weather as well. This week’s forecast looks benign so the players have that going for them, which is nice. Dove Mountain is a classic Nicklaus design that players will more difficult the closer they get to the hole. Fairways are plenty wide and the rough is only three inches of Bermudagrass that shouldn’t bother the best players in the world. Around the greens is where the course tricks up as severe slopes and false fronts will lead to plenty of chips, pitches, putts and clanks with fairway metals to try and get the ball close. The greens at Dove Mountain are slightly above average in size and will be running at 11.5’ on the Stimpmeter. This speed will allow for plenty of birdies but the undulations are the main defense and will challenge the players whose approach shots do not find the proper shelf.
Match play on a course like this makes it even more challenging for gamers to project solid players this week. The tee ball on this course is almost irrelevant regardless of the 7,700 yards because of the width of the fairways. The winners on this course since 2009 have been Geoff Ogilvy (big hitter), Poulter (not big hitter), Donald (same as Poulter), Mahan (same as Donald) and Kuchar (same as Mahan). That’s four non-long ballers winning and one heavy hitter winning. But, those are five really solid putters. Hmmmmmmmmmmm.
This week, I’m looking for guys who embrace this format and guys who are currently on form. The tiebreaker, for me, will be current form as this course will relinquish birdies and birdies, not pars are going to win this. I am also throwing out Ryder Cup/President Cup records because there is no sensible comparison in those events. This is money and world-rankings grab, not a chance to play for your country so don’t make it out to be something it’s not.