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 Snead Bracket. (Click for more predictions: Player Bracket | Jones Bracket | Hogan Bracket)
SAM SNEAD BRACKET
No. 1 Lee Westwood vs. No. 16 Nicolas Colsaerts
The lowdown: So the Englishman’s putting was horrific earlier this month in Dubai and Colsaerts, who is making his first start in the Match Play but finished tied for third at last year’s Volvo World Match Play, has top-10 showings in three of his last four starts, but it’s impossible to bet against Westwood this early in any tournament.
No. 8 Robert Karlsson vs. No. 9 Fredrik Jacobson
The lowdown: Karlsson has prerequisite length to excel at the Match Play but in six starts he’s advanced past the first round just twice and the “Junkman” has the great equalizer in match play – grit.
No. 4 Nick Watney vs. No. 16 Darren Clarke
The lowdown: Way back in 2000 when the Ulsterman beat Tiger Woods in the championship match, Clarke was a bracketology staple, but that feels like a lifetime ago and Watney has played well in his two Match Play starts.
No. 5 Tiger Woods vs. No. 12 Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño
The lowdown: For all the handwringing over Woods’ performance at the WGC-Match Play in recent years he’s lost in the first round just twice in 11 starts and should find the putting easier at Dove Mountain than Pebble Beach.
No. 2 Webb Simpson vs. No. 15 Matteo Manassero
The lowdown: Although this is Simpson’s first Match Play start he was solid last year paired with Bubba Watson at the Presidents Cup and has been more consistent than Manassero this season.
No. 7 Alvaro Quiros vs. No. 10 Martin Laird
The lowdown: Quiros has all the markings of a Match Play champion, he is super long off the tee, unapologetically bold and could run the table for his first WGC title.
No. 3 Bill Haas vs. No. 14 Ryo Ishikawa
The lowdown: We’ve seen this matchup before, sort of. Ishikawa, paired with Ernie Els, clipped Haas and Matt Kuchar in a hotly contested Day 3 foursomes match at last year’s Presidents Cup and he could be poised for another “upset.”
No. 6 Justin Rose vs. No. 11 Paul Lawrie
The lowdown: Lawrie has shown a remarkable resurgence but Rose is a match play stud. It’s a shame so many European Ryder Cup captains don’t realize that.