As Ive said on more than one occasion, I really like the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. To me, its the one WGC event with wide-ranging appeal and exciting unpredictability. Every country has a rooting interest. Every player has a chance.
And before you think Im wrong about each man having hope, look at the Jeff Maggert vs. Andrew Magee final in 1999, the Steve Stricker vs. Pierre Fulke final in 2001 and the Kevin Sutherland vs. Scott McCarron title match in 2002.
By the way, Maggert, Magee, Stricker, Fulke, Sutherland and McCarron have exactly zero PGA Tour wins since their finals appearances.
The flip side of that tune is that we also get Darren Clarke vs. Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods vs. David Toms and Chris DiMarco vs. David Toms.
So its my opinion that the potential of a Tiger Woods ousting in Round 1 at the hands of a Nick OHern is a good thing for the event. I think the chance that an aging Bernhard Langer can wave bye-bye to Ernie Els is good medicine.
Its what keeps us watching. And for weeks it will keep us talking.
But thats where I draw the line. While I like upsets early, I dont like too many, and when it comes to the weekend, I still want my stars. And if I cant get my true stars then I demand some great golf. not two guys who run out of gas.
Television ratings dont lie. A weekend without Tiger Woods isnt a huge watch. But I would also argue that last years weekend watching David Toms demolish every player in his path was very watchable.
Actually, last years Match Play and this years edition are very similar through two days of play. The higher seed (or underdog) won 13 of 32 first round matches in 2005 and also in 2006. Last year in Round 2, the higher seed won 7 of 16 matches, while this year the number was 6.
As I see it, thats really good for the event. And it gives us a chance to root on Tom Lehman (11) who has dispatched of Mercedes Championships winner Stuart Appleby (6) and Adam Scott (3).
Lehmans ability to potentially knock off a David Toms (who he draws on Friday) and Tiger Woods (who he could draw in Saturdays Quarter-Finals is terrific theater.
But there comes a point when we still need our biggest names. The fact is that the majority of fans would love to see just what the networks would like ' a Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson match-up in the Semi-Finals and a possible Tiger Woods vs. Vijay Singh dual in the finals.
We dont get that often enough in our sport. And that would be a dream final.
Ill never scream underdogs be damned. To me, the upsets are great, and they are what makes this almost as fun as the NCAA Basketball Tournament. But when it comes to the end, please leave me with a couple of superstars left standing to take them on.
Remember the great Georgetown? They needed Villanova to make it a great story. Remember Jim Valvanos N.C. State team? Huge favorite Houston was there for the fall.
At this stage, Id love a Mickelson vs. Singh final. Or a Woods vs. Mickelson rematch the week before the Ford Championship at Doral where they went head to head on Sunday a year ago.
But if I cant have it, then Ill gladly take Woods and Lehman.
In the end, please just dont leave me lost without the great story. Agreed?
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann