By PGA TOUR staff
MARANA, Ariz. -- The world's best golfers are ready to tee it up at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Luke Donald and AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am champion Brandt Snedeker, Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively, in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) lead the list of those who are now qualified for next week's Accenture Match Play Championship. While the top 64 in the OWGR are qualified for the event, players have until Friday, Feb. 15, at 5 p.m. ET to officially commit to the tournament.
The 2013 bracket and tee times will be unveiled on Sunday, Feb. 17, once the OWGR is updated following the conclusion of the Northern Trust Open on the PGA TOUR.
The first WGC event of the 2013 season returns to The Golf Club at Dove Mountain, in Marana, Ariz., Feb. 18-24. The 32 first-round matches begin Wednesday, Feb. 20, with Hunter Mahan (No. 26) looking to defend his title and retain the Walter Hagen Cup.
One player made a significant jump in the rankings and into the field yesterday -- South Africa's Richard Sterne, who went from No. 94 in the OWGR to No. 55, thanks to his seven-stroke win at the Joburg Open, co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Sunshine Tour. Sterne will make his first appearance in a WGC event since 2009 and will look to advance past the first round in his third Accenture Match Play Championship start.
In addition to Sterne, who was No. 154 in the world at the end of the 2012, six players moved from outside the top 64 in the world to inside the Accenture Match Play Championship field this year: Thongchai Jaidee (No. 80 at the end of 2012 to No. 54 currently); PGA TOUR rookie Russell Henley (No. 131 to No. 56); Stephen Gallacher (No. 98 to No. 57); Tim Clark (No. 91 to No. 59); Chris Wood (No. 139 to No. 60); and Charles Howell III (No. 117 to No. 64).
Phil Mickelson (No. 10) confirmed recently that he will not play the Accenture Match Play Championship due to vacation plans with his family, which means that No. 65-ranked Shane Lowry will be making his first career start in the event.
On the outside looking in, pending the commitment deadline on Friday, are No. 66 Fredrik Jacobson, who was No. 73 prior to a T7 finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am; and No. 67 Bernd Wiesberger.
The Accenture Match Play Championship will once again feature "Follow the Leaders," a program that gives fans an opportunity to fall in behind the Championship Match and follow the players down each fairway until the 2013 champion is decided. "Follow the Leaders" will give fans the unique chance to experience the crowd, walk the fairways and view the greens from a player's perspective. All Sunday ticket holders will be invited to "Follow the Leaders" at the Accenture Match Play Championship, the only official match-play event on the PGA TOUR schedule.
The Accenture Match Play Championship, which is the first in a series of four World Golf Championships events in 2013, has been played in the Tucson area since 2007 and at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain since 2009. Fans interested in purchasing tickets or for more information can visit www.worldgolfchampionships.com or call 520-571-0400.