MARANA, Ariz. – Thirty-two matches will comprise the opening day of the 2012 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. GolfChannel.com senior writers Randall Mell and Rex Hoggard are on site and offer up predictions on Day 1. Hoggard takes on the Player Bracket. (Click for more predictions: Snead Bracket | Jones Bracket | Hogan Bracket)
GARY PLAYER BRACKET
No. 1 Rory McIlroy vs. No. 16 George Coetzee
The lowdown: With a monsoon of respect for Coetzee, who has climbed from 89th in the world ranking to start the year to 66th, he will not see Thursday in his first career start in the United States.
No. 8 Kyung-tae Kim vs. No. 9 Anders Hansen
The lowdown: May be the day’s most contested match and will likely come down to experience. Hansen has four starts in the Match Play and has been steady this season with top-15 finishes in four of his six worldwide starts.
No. 4 Sergio Garcia vs. No. 13 Miguel A. Jimenez
The lowdown: “The Mechanic” is a match play magician, but Garcia is playing as well as anyone right now and will survive the all-Spanish shootout.
No. 5 Keegan Bradley vs. No. 12 Geoff Ogilvy
The lowdown: Tough to pick against Ogilvy, a two-time Match Play champion with a 20-4 record, but Bradley showed plenty of moxie last week when he holed a 13-footer on the 72nd hole to join the playoff in Los Angeles. It was the kind of putt that would win a lot of matches.
No. 2 Jason Day vs. No. 15 Rafael Cabrera-Bello
The lowdown: Two weeks ago Cabrera-Bello was ranked 119th in the world and Day was considered by many the most likely player to win his first major in 2012. The only thing that’s changed is Cabrera-Bello won the Dubai Desert Classic. The Australian makes quick work of his Round 1 opponent.
No. 7 Simon Dyson vs. No. 10 John Senden
The lowdown: Both players were bounced in their maiden Match Play on Wednesday last year but Senden hasn’t missed a cut since last August and appears to have the better form.
No. 3 Charl Schwartzel vs. No. 14 Gary Woodland
The lowdown: The reigning Masters champion has been as solid as anyone this season and Woodland’s tinkering with new swing coach Butch Harmon still has a work-in-progress feel, but Dove Mountain is a bomber’s paradise and Woodland is among the game’s preeminent bombers.
No. 6 Ian Poulter vs. No. 11 Sang-moon Bae
The lowdown: The Tour rookie is expected to surprise many this season, but there will be no Round 1 upset against Poulter, who has lost in the first round of the Match Play just twice in eight starts.