By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Insider
If I was limited to one piece of advice for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, it would be to just enjoy the tournament.
Recall for a moment the last time you heard an athlete asked who he or she would rather face in the next round of a match-play golf tournament or the playoffs in a team sport when that athlete has already advanced. The textbook response to which we are usually treated is that it doesn't matter. Indeed, the goal of surviving and advancing has been achieved. There will come a point in time when preparation for the next opponent is the top priority, but that's not in an interview.
Consider that your mindset this week. Bask in surviving and advancing, and expect nothing tomorrow. Even the most successful gamers will take a licking after one round and many will be recycling their brackets by Friday. Still, if you are in need for some recommended angles, follow my five-point plan.
-- Ignore the seeds. Unlike the college basketball tournament featuring a similar format, it's easy to argue that the number of potential champions of this golf tournament is significantly higher. Do whatever you need to do to separate the dynamics between the two. The seeding for the WGC-Accenture is necessary for the format and it generates interest, but fantasy gamers should cross off the seeds before filling out their brackets. If you need an extreme example, consider how many times 64-seed Shane Lowry could defeat 1-seed Rory McIlroy if they played 10 18-hole matches. Then consider how many times the winner of the play-in game in college basketball would beat the top seed if they played 10 times. Among other factors, golf allows for greater variance because it's an individual sport.
-- Understanding what matters. Citing course history in this event is misguided. A guy may have logged three 66s and gone 0-3 while another could shoot over par in every round and advance every time. Therefore, stick with how a golfer is faring of late if you're stuck on a matchup. If you're still unsure, lean on one's familiarity with The Golf Club at Dove Mountain. While a win-loss record can be misleading, the fact that he's played the course has value.
-- Experience in match play. More often than not, golfers have engaged in a match-play situation at some point during their careers. It's not unprecedented for a golfer never to have competed in the format as a touring pro, but we have to assume that there's a catalog of understanding the dynamics in real time. Any experience is helpful, of course, and all but 12 in the field of 64 have given it a go at least once in this tournament.
-- Make picks after every round. If you participate in a private game, consider this option. Once the first-round winners are in the books, select the next 16 from the remaining 32. Copy this process throughout and reward high-point totals for each round. While your week-long bracket may be toast by the weekend, this modified version will keep you engaged.
-- Detach from the emotion and move on. Ultimately you'll have no choice anyway, so there's no point in ruing what was an unlikely week in which to succeed. Tip your cap to your opponent and get back in the game next week.
Back in the Saddle
Carl Pettersson ... Withdrew after one round of last week's Northern Trust Open due to the flu. He drew Rickie Fowler in the opening round in the Jones bracket.
Briny Baird, Hunter Haas and Joe Affrunti ... All are scheduled to compete in the Web.com Tour's season opener in Panama this week. All have medical extensions on the PGA TOUR and haven't teed it up in a sanctioned event this year.
Brandt Snedeker ... Resting an injured rib muscle. Hoping for a return to action in March.
Phil Mickelson ... Opted to spend time with his family. It's the third time in four years that's he's elected not to compete.