WGC-Accenture Match Play: First Look
February 15, 2014
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- Hunter Mahan is 13-2 in his last three trips to Dove Mountain. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
FIELD: Current field of 64 golfers
COURSE: The Golf Club at Dove Mountain, 7,791 yards, par 72. Built into lush, hillside terrain just northwest of Tucson, the Jack Nicklaus design already had been awarded the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship before it opened in 2008. With wide fairways and the occasional forced carry over a desert wash, the course's primary challenge lies in its fast, undulating putting surfaces. The greens actually had more movement in their original state, but were softened after the 2009 event when players judged the surfaces too slow.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 550 points.
CHARITY: The First Tee is the primary beneficiary of World Golf Championships events. Proceeds are shared with Tucson Conquistadores Charities, which has given more than $27 million to youth organizations since 1962.
FIELD WATCH: Reigning FedExCup titleholder Henrik Stenson and defending champ Matt Kuchar head the field as three of the projected No. 1 seeds elect to bypass Dove Mountain. World No. 1 Tiger Woods, No. 2 Adam Scott and No. 4 Phil Mickelson will sit out. ... Those absences opened up slots in the 64-man bracket for Scott Piercy, South Africa's Richard Sterne and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat, winner of the Asian Tour's Order of Merit. ... Steve Stricker, a question mark as brother Scott awaited a liver transplant, remains listed in the lineup. Scott Stricker went into surgery Friday after a donor was found.
LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY: 9 & 8, Tiger Woods def. Stephen Ames (1st round, 2006 at La Costa Resort & Spa).
LONGEST MATCH: 26 holes, Mike Weir def. Loren Roberts (1st round, 2003 at La Costa), and Scott Verplank def. Lee Westwood (1st round, 2006 at La Costa).
LAST YEAR: Kuchar jumped out early on Hunter Mahan -- the first to put Mahan behind in more than two years -- and held off a late challenge for a 2 & 1 victory and his first World Golf Championships crown. Kuchar won the fourth hole with a par, then benefited from Mahan miscues to lead 4 up at the turn. Mahan, though, cut the lead in half by winning Nos. 10 and 11 and nearly made it three in a row before Kuchar drained a 15-foot birdie at the par-3 12th. It remained tight until Mahan needed four shots to reach the green at No. 17.
STORYLINES: The No. 1 seeds get a shuffle with the missing trio up top, as what's typically a volatile event anyway figures to get even more wide open. U.S. Open champ Justin Rose, former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson stand next in line for top seeds, though that could change if there's movement in the world rankings. The brackets will be set Sunday night. ... Kuchar, likely a No. 2 seed, seeks to join Woods (2003-04) as the WGC Match Play's only back-to-back winners. He now sports a 15-3 record in the event, the highest winning percentage (83.3) of anyone with at least 10 matches played. ... Mahan is 13-2 over his past three visits to Dove Mountain.
SHORT CHIPS: Patrick Reed, who won the Wyndham Championship and Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation in the past six months, and France's Victor Dubuisson are set to make their WGC debuts. Seventeen others will tee it up in their first WGC Match Play. ... Each of the past two years has featured 15 first-round upsets. That's the most in any year since there 18 took place during the debut edition in 1999. ... Mickelson is absent for the fourth time in the past five years, a week off that usually coincides with his children's spring break. He's reached the quarterfinals just once in 11 appearances. ... Sang-Moon Bae takes a week off for the first time since the calendar turned. He had teed it up at each of 2014's first seven stops.
TELEVISION: Wednesday, noon-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. (GC). Saturday, noon-2 p.m. (GC), 2-6 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 9 a.m.1-p.m. (GC), 2-6 p.m. (CBS).
RADIO: Wednesday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. ET. Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.COM).