Expert Picks: WGC-Accenture Match Play

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This week the PGA Tour heads to Dove Mountain Golf Club in Marana, Ariz. for the season's first WGC event. Hunter Mahan defends his title against 63 of the world's best in single-elimination match play format. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams and staff writer Ryan Lavner. They will also be joined by former 'Saturday Night Live' star Norm Macdonald, who will serve as a celebrity guest throughout the fantasy season.


Randall Mell

Jones Bracket: Charl Schwartzel: Liking his form after following up a 2nd at the Joburg Open with a T-3 showing at Riviera.

Hogan Bracket: Matt Kuchar: Match play brings out his best, and it will again this week.

Player Bracket: Tiger Woods: Looked formidable winning at Torrey Pines, and all the pieces appear to be coming together.

Snead Bracket: Luke Donald: That wonderful short game will wear out his opponents.

Final Prediction: Donald over Kuchar


Jason Sobel

Jones: Ryan Moore: Former U.S. Amateur champion is obviously proficient in the match play format, and has been playing some very good golf so far this season.

Hogan: Nicolas Colaserts: My bracket has a Colsaerts-Garrigus matchup on Saturday morning. If it happens, bring your binoculars.

Player: Tiger Woods: Truth be told, I don't love him in this event - but I really don't love his bracket. Easily the weakest of the four.

Snead: Scott Piercy: Sure, Ian Poulter is the popular pick, but Piercy hits bombs and plays his best golf in the desert. Watch out.

Final Prediction: Moore over Woods


Win McMurry

Jones: Charl Schwartzel: He has finished in the top-five in all of his last five worldwide starts, including winning the Alfred Dunhill Championship in mid-December. He’s 5-4 at Dove Mountain, yet all four of his losses went at least 18 holes. The toughest match before the semi-finals could be Ryan Moore in the third round. His best recent match play result was making it to the quarter-finals in 2011 Volvo World Match Play.

Hogan: Justin Rose: He tied for second at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and has stayed hot now for months contending at big events, including a T3 at the PGA Championship and T5 at the Bridgestone Invitational last year. He was knocked out in the first round last year, but has made it to the quarterfinals before, back in 2007. He went 2-2-0 at Medinah closing Sunday with three consecutive birdies to beat Phil Mickelson. I believe he’ll channel those feelings this week.

Player: Tiger Woods: Tiger has struggled here recently without making it past round two since he won in 2008. Tiger is back in form, coming off his win at Torrey Pines and he has the best record here, 33-9. Despite not winning a full point for the Americans at the Ryder Cup (0-3-1), he comes into the week after playing golf with the President. If he needs any confidence boost, or reminder of who he is, he has it.

Snead: Luke Donald: He’ll put Michael Jordan’s mind-game techniques to work this week as he tries to capture his second match play title here in three years. Last year as the top seed he went out in the first round, but the year before he won it all. He’s 16-7 in the event. His toughest opponent may be Ian Poulter.

Final Prediction: Woods over Rose  


Ryan Lavner

Jones: Charl Schwartzel: It'd be foolish to ignore his scalding-hot record over the last seven worldwide starts: T3-2-1-1-2-T3-5. With Rory out of the way early - I have him losing to Fowler in the second round - Schwartzel will have little resistance in reaching the Final Four.

Hogan: Justin Rose: This is one of the deepest brackets, so the road to the semis could be an arduous one for Rose. But I see the Englishman squeaking by Keegan Bradley to set up a date in the Final Four.

Player: Tiger Woods: Yes, Tiger is in great form, as he showed at Torrey Pines and, reportedly, in an 18-hole duel with the Leader of the Free World. But Tiger has a relatively easy path to the semis, and I see him only needing to get past Webb Simpson and Hunter Mahan to reach it.

Snead: Ian Poulter: Can't bail on the match-play maven, at least not yet. Even with the extended layoff, I expect Poults to be sharp at Dove Mountain, where he won in 2010. He'll take down Luke Donald in the quarterfinals to reach the Final Four.

Final Prediction: Woods over Schwartzel