The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is the first of the four annual World Golf Championship events, with the 2013 edition taking place from 20 February to 24 February at Dove Mountain in the small town of Marana in Arizona.
The tournament dates back to 1999 when Jeff Maggert beat Andrew Magee in a final that went to 38 holes and Tiger Woods has won it three times – 2003, 2004 and 2008. But Woods has not celebrated victory at Dove Mountain, the Jack Nicklaus-designed that has staged the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship since 2009. Indeed, Woods has not lasted past the second round of any edition held at Dove Mountain.
Geoff Ogilvy took out the 2009 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, beating Paul Casey 4 & 3 in the final. Casey was the 2010 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship runner-up as well, going down 4 & 2 to Ian Poulter in the decider. In 2011, Luke Donald added his name to the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship honour roll by defeating Martin Kaymer 3 & 2 in the big-money game. Last year, Hunter Mahan edged Rory McIlroy 2 & 1 to pocket the $1,400,000 winner’s cheque.
The 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is a valuable event so it is only natural to see Woods at the top of the betting market. However, match play really is not the forte of the 14-time major champion. His three WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship came at a point in his career when he was so far ahead of the field that it was not funny and it is no coincidence that he has flopped in the tournament in recent years when he has not been the world number one by miles.
Woods has a losing Ryder Cup record – 12 wins, two halves and 14 losses – and he managed to score only half a point out of a possible four when the United States of America lost to Europe at the Medinah Country Club in 2012.
Woods has been drawn in the same 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship bracket as title holder Mahan, Kaymer and Lee Westwood. Those three golfers have made the semi-finals of a WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at Dove Mountain and Westwood, in particular, is famous for being a terrific match player. Woods is too short in the betting and, even if he were double his price, one would be reluctant to back him.
Eleven of the 64-man field for the 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship have made the last eight of an edition of the tournament staged at Dove Mountain. In alphabetical order, they are Donald, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Thongchai Jaidee, Kaymer, Matt Kuchar, Mahan, McIlroy, Poulter, Bubba Watson and Westwood. That is a starting point, also noting that Kuchar and McIlroy have made the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship quarter-finals at Dove Mountain twice.
Had McIlroy not changed his equipment supplier in the off season, he would have been the top pick. But the Northern Irishman made a poor start to competitive life as a Nike athlete, missing the cut in Abu Dhabi last month. It may take McIlroy time to get used to his new clubs and that means, even though he is in what is arguably the weakest of the four brackets, he does not warrant betting support.
Watson is the only other proven Dove Mountain performer in McIlroy’s bracket so he may represent some value to be the 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship semi-finalist from that section. The course definitely suits his game.
Ernie Els has a brilliant match play record having won the Volvo World Match Play Championship seven times between 1994 and 2007, and made the last eight of the 2009 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at Dove Mountain. Unfortunately, the South African known as the Big Easy is in the same 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship bracket as Garcia, Jaidee and Kuchar, the latter being particularly dangerous as a consequence of his back-to-back third and fifth placings in the event. It is a very tough section.
And so is the 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship bracket that houses Kaymer, Mahan, Westwood and, for all his faults, Woods. Whichever golfer qualifies for the last four from that group will have earned their semi-final berth.
Probably the best 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship bet is Poulter. He is a Dove Mountain winner who revels in match play golf, as demonstrated by his 2011 Volvo World Match Play Championship and 2012 Ryder Cup heroics.
Poulter ended last year in a blaze of glory, finishing third in the PGA Championship and winning the WGC-HSBC Champions by two strokes from four joint runners-up. The Englishman is golf’s ultimate confidence player and he seems to be in a good head space for his first stiff challenge of 2013.
Poulter and Donald are the two golfers who stand in their 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship bracket and, at the odds, the former gets the nod even though anyone backing the latter should get a decent run for their money.