Look for upsets in Match Play head-to-head | Accenture Match Play Championship
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Accenture Match Play Championship

Look for upsets in Match Play head-to-head

Top seed: 'Any player in this field can beat any other player'

The top seed for this week's Accenture Match Play Championship isn't letting recent success get to his head.

Steve Stricker, who two weeks ago passed Phil Mickelson to become the No. 2 ranked player in the world, has already won a tournament this year. His victory two weeks ago at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera County Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., made him the top seed for this week's Accenture Match Play Championship (because Tiger Woods is not playing).

Because this weekend's tournament is match play - a head-to-head competition instead of four days of stroke play - anything can happen, Stricker said during an afternoon news conference Tuesday.

"You never know when you are going to run into a hot player or a hot round," the native of Wisconsin said. "I believe any player in this field can beat any other player."

Paul Casey, who was last year's runner up behind Geoff Ogilvy, agreed.

"It's a bit of a lottery … You could shoot a 63 and be going home tomorrow afternoon," Casey said in an afternoon news conference.

Last year's first round results bear that out - Sergio Garcia (No. 2 seed) was ousted by unknown Charl Schwartzel (No. 63); Former winner Henrik Stenson (No. 6 seed) was sent packing by Davis Love III (No. 59); No. 62 seed Pat Perez beat No. 3 Padraig Harrington.

Stricker faces Ireland's Ross McGowan at noon Wednesday. Englishman Casey plays Canadian Stephen Ames at 9 a.m.

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University of Arizona alum Jim Furyk, ranked No. 5 in the world, also likes match play events, though they do not work well for television because often matches end unpredictably in mid round. But the risk of losing because of one bad round is an issue for Furyk.

"It's disappointing. You can play pretty darn well. You can fire a good number, and lose. You can look at some of the other matches where guys didn't play as well as you did. It's just part of it. They get to move on, and you don't," Furyk said Tuesday.

Rory McIlroy, a Northern Irishman who played his first Match Play last year, intends to stay on his toes.

"This tournament, you have to really - if you want to progress a lot into the weekend, the latter stages - you've got to play really well," the 20-year-old said. "None of these guys are going to give you holes. You have to go out and win them yourself."

Play starts at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. There will be 32 matches Wednesday, 16 on Thursday and eight Friday. On Saturday, there will be four quarterfinal matches and two semifinals. Sunday is reserved for the 36-hole final match and a third-place match.

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B. Poole/TucsonSentinel.com

American phenom Anthony Kim, practicing here on the 17th green Tuesday, faces fellow American Matt Kuchar on Wednesday.

“None of these guys are going to give you holes. You have to go out and win them yourself.”

— Rory McIlroy

If you go

  • Tickets are still available and cost $25 Tuesday, $55 Wednesday and $45 through the weekend
  • Children 15 and under get in free with a paying adult (one child per adult)

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