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Woods Top Seed in Match Play

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The player who nearly derailed Tiger Woods' historic sweep of the majors could get another crack at him next week in the opening round of the Match Play Championship.
 
Bob May is not in the field yet, but his chances improved Monday when Jose Coceres of Argentina had to withdraw because of a broken arm. Thomas Bjorn of Denmark previously withdrew to rest an ailing shoulder.
 
The original 64-man field was determined by the world rankings published Monday.
 
Click Here for tentative First-Round Matchups
 
Woods, who has been No. 1 since winning the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah, will be seeded first for the World Golf Championship event, which starts Feb. 20 at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif.
 
May is No. 67 in the rankings, and would get the 64th seed - and a first-round match against Woods - if Colin Montgomerie pulls out.
 
Montgomerie hurt his back three weeks ago in Australia, an injury that he originally feared might keep him out of the Masters.
 
A spokeswoman for IMG in London said Monday that Montgomerie has not decided whether to make the 10-hour flight for a tournament that could last only one round. Montgomerie has not made it past the second round in two previous tries.
 
If Montgomerie does enter the Match Play, Woods will face Peter O'Malley of Australia. Otherwise, it could be a rematch of one of the most captivating duels in Woods' career.
 
Having already won the U.S. Open by 15 strokes and the British Open by eight strokes, Woods got an unexpected fight from an unlikely contender at the 2000 PGA Championship. Woods had to birdie the last two holes in regulation to force a playoff with May. Woods won the three-hole playoff by one shot.
 
He went on to win the Masters eight months later to become the first player to sweep the four professional majors.
 
Coceres broke his arm playing soccer. He planned to return this week at the Nissan Open, but his agent said the arm was not healing quickly enough.
 
'It's not worth coming out here and hurting himself,' Robert Gutierrez said. He said Coceres, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour last year, likely would return at Bay Hill.
 
Woods is skipping the Nissan Open at Riviera, saying he has been sick for a couple of weeks and wants to get rested for the Match Play Championship.
 
It is the only PGA Tour-sanctioned event using this format, and one of Woods' favorite events that isn't a major.
 
'It's a fun week,' he said. 'It brings back what you used to do in junior golf and amateur golf, and we as pros miss that. You get a chance to play one-on-one. There's only a select time when we play match play, in the Ryder Cup and President's Cup.'
 
Phil Mickelson is seeded second, followed by David Duval and Sergio Garcia.
 
The first three Match Play events have shown that higher-seeded players do not have it much easier than anyone else. The highest-seeded winner was Darren Clarke, who was No. 19 when he defeated Woods in the final two years ago at La Costa.
 
Woods is the only top-10-seeded player to even reach the final.
 
'The last time I played, I got smoked in the finals,' Woods said of his 5 and 4 loss to Clarke. 'So, I'd like to at least do a little bit better than that.'
 
Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen and Rory Sabbatini of South Africa played their way into the $5 million tournament.
 
Janzen started the season at No. 106, but rose to No. 63 this week after tying for fourth at Phoenix, fourth at Pebble Beach and 11th last week at San Diego. Sabbatini tied for fifth Sunday at San Diego and rose 11 spots to No. 61.
 
Also in the field is John Daly, who tied for fourth last week and moved up to No. 40. He will be playing in his first WGC event.
 
With Bjorn and Coceres already having withdrawn, the Match Play field will not have the top 64 players from the world ranking for the fourth straight year. Jumbo Ozaki of Japan skipped the first two events, and 28 top players passed on a trip to Australia last year.
 
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