Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Accenture Match Play - Ben Hogan Bracket Preview

Match 25
#1 Vijay Singh FIJ vs. #16Soren Kjeldsen DEN

The big Fijian versus the great Dane - well, maybe not the 'great' dane, but Soren Kjeldsen does have a win to his credit at last year's Volvo Masters.
Kjeldsen isn't having a great year, though, and Vijay is the big Fijian.

Outcome: Vijay Singh, 5UP

Match 26
#8 Ben Curtis USA vs. #9 Luke Donald ENG

One of my favorite first round matches between two of my favorite players: the unheralded major-champion Ben Curtis versus the much lauded, yet to win a major Luke Donald.
Curtis always brings his best, but it may not be good enough against an on form Donald. Look for a well played matchup of fundamentally sound players.

Outcome: Donald, 2 AND 1

Match 17
#4 Ernie Els SAF vs. #13 Soren Hansen DEN

Another match-up of very good players, Ernie just isn't the Ernie of old. He does have a top ten to his credit this year, though, and Hansen hasn't been lighting it up on the Euro tour.
I'm going to make another change here from my initial picks, but I don't feel that confident about it. If Els wins this match, its sets up a VERY interesting second round match if my next pick wins as well.

Outcome: Els, 2 AND 1

Match 18
#5 Steve Stricker USA vs. #12 Dustin Johnson USA

A very intriguing match-up. The first pairing of two players who are completely on form and looking to continue their fine play. Also, a drastic difference in playing styles.
Stricker is one of the most clutch putters on tour, and Johnson one of the most powerful ball strikers.
Youth versus experience, length versus short game prowess.
Johnson could easily pull this one out, but I'll go with the better putter here.

Outcome: Stricker, 3 AND 2

Match 9
#2 Phil Mickelson USA vs. #15 Angel Cabrera ARG

This would have been a more intriguing match-up had Phil not won last week, and if the course wasn't as long as it is.
If it were shorter perhaps Cabrera could've used his minor length advantage to take control of the match, but all things being equal Phil just has more weapons at his disposal.
The outcome of this match will go a long way to see how much of a statement Phil wants to make during the week Tiger returns to the world of golf.

Outcome: Mickelson, 5 AND 4

Match 10
#7 Zach Johnson USA vs. #10 Graeme McDowell NIR

Zach-Attach vs. a solid Euro Tour player in McDowell. McDowell is having a fine year on the European Tour without a top ten finish. Zach already has a win to his credit, and has an incredible game from 100-yards in.
Unfortunately for Zach the length of the course won't let him use his strength as too much of an advantage, but it should allow him to recover better from errant shots.
Zach is a great putter, a proven winner, and has tons of experience to draw from. He's a bulldog.

Outcome: Johnson, 2 AND 1

Match 1
#3 Lee Westwood, ENG vs. #14 Prayad Marksaeng THA

This is one of the reasons why this event is so great - we to get discover fine players from other tours who are rewarded for consistent play, even if it's not on the PGA or Euro tours, to earn enough points to be ranked in the top 64 in the world.
Marksaeng has been playing on the Asian tour for 13 years and has 6 wins there. He has 4 other wins worldwide. I don't know anything about him than that which I can read on the Asian Tour website, but his career resume is respectable.
I'm going to be biased, though, and take the man who is battle tested in Ryder Cups and has been one of the most consistent players in the world for the last ten years.

Outcome: Westwood, 3 AND 2

Match 2
#6 Stewart Cink USA vs. Richard Sterne SAF

Another intruiging match-up. Sterne had two wins in December on the European Tour, and has followed that up with a T12 this year.
On the other hand, Cink is another battle tested match play veteran, with success in both the President's Cup and Ryder Cup. Multiple PGA victories and a runner-up finish in this event last year bode well for the solid ball striker and putter.
Well rounded Cink is one of my favorites, and I'll take him in a first round win.

Outcome: Cink, 3 AND 2

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