Round 1 predictions for the WGC-Accenture Match Play

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2013, 6:23 pm

MARANA, Ariz. – Round 1 of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship gets underway Wednesday at The Ritz Carlton Golf Club Dove Mountain. offers up some first-round predictions. Click here to play Golf Channel's Bracket Challenge to make your picks. (Also check out the bracket and tee times.) All tee times are local (MT).

Match 1 - 7:25 a.m. - (3) Sergio Garcia def. (14) Thongchai Jaidee

Although El Nino has a history of one-and-done weeks at the Match Play - he’s been bounced in the opening set four times in 10 appearances - he has not finished outside the top 20 since last September.

Match 2 - 7:35 a.m. - (6) Matt Kuchar def. (11) Hiroyuki Fujita

In three Match Play starts Kuchar has never lost in Round 1, although he did struggle after a stellar start last week in Los Angeles. That Fujita is making his first start of 2013 also makes a Round 1 upset unlikely.

Match 3 - 7:45 a.m. - (14) Stephen Gallacher def. (3) Ian Poulter

OK, so the wild-eyed Englishman has won this event before (2010) and is still riding high following last year’s Ryder Cup, but Gallacher is fresh off a victory in Dubai and is ripe for pulling an upset.

Match 4 - 7:55 a.m. - (11) John Senden def. (6) Bo Van Pelt

On paper this is an upset, but the truth is this is an extremely close match up but the Aussie, who advanced to the Sweet 16 last year at Dove Mountain, comes out ahead.

Match 5 - 8:05 a.m. - (3) Charl Schwartzel def. (14) Russell Henley

Tough opening-day pull for the Sony Open champion, who will face an on-form Schwartzel (T-3 at Northern Trust Open) who has never lost in Round 1 at the Match Play.

Match 6 - 8:15 a.m. - (11) Jason Day def. (6) Zach Johnson

This is a “courses for horses” deal. Since the Match Play moved to Dove Mountain in 2007 Johnson has never advanced past the second round on a bomber’s course that is made to order for Day.

Match 7 - 8:25 a.m. - (14) Richard Sterne def. (3) Jason Dufner

After Brandt Snedeker, who is missing this week’s WGC with an ailing rib, the South African is the game’s hottest player, having finished first, second and T-7 in his last three starts.

Match 8 - 8:35 a.m. - (6) Hunter Mahan def. (11) Matteo Manassero

The defending champion has slowly dug himself out of the slump that beset him last year. Don’t be surprised to see him hanging around deep into the weekend.

Match 9 - 8:45 a.m. - (2) Justin Rose def. (15) K.J. Choi

Englishman already has one WGC on his shelf (WGC-Cadillac Championship) and is probably coach Sean Foley’s best chance to claim a second consecutive Match Play title.

Match 10 - 8:55 a.m. - (7) Bill Haas def. (10) Nicolas Colsaerts

The Muscles from Brussels has been sluggish in his American debut this season and Haas hasn’t finished outside the top 10 in his last three starts.

Match 11 - 9:05 a.m. - (15) Tim Clark def. (2) Adam Scott

In a battle of long putters, the South African is poised to mar more than a few brackets. Don’t be surprised, this is the same player who has “upset” Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen, Martin Kaymer and Tiger Woods in his last two Match Play starts.

Match 12 - 9:15 a.m. - (10) Thorbjorn Olsesen def. (7) Jamie Donaldson

It is pronounced TOR-be-yorn OO-les-en and American fans should get used to saying it. The Dane is on a steady rise having finished T-2 in Abu Dhabi and T-3 in Dubai last month.

Match 13 - 9:25 a.m. - (2) Bubba Watson def. (15) Chris Wood

Bubba wins the battle of the bombers on Day 1, but this one will be close and may go extra holes. May we suggest they play the drivable par-4 16th hole until a champion in crowned for our viewing pleasure.

Match 14 - 9:35 a.m. - (7) Jim Furyk def. (10) Ryan Moore

Tough match to call, but the nod goes to Furyk based on his experience at this event. The veteran has made a cool dozen starts at the Match Play in his career.

Match 15 - 9:45 a.m. - (2) Lee Westwood def. (15) Rafael Cabrera-Bello

The Englishman has been steady, if not spectacular, to start the season and he did advance to the semifinals here last year. The Spaniard, on the other hand, went down in Round 1 in 2012 to Jason Day.

Match 16 - 9:55 a.m. - (10) George Coetzee def. (7) Martin Kaymer

Two years ago the German took over the top spot in the World Ranking at Dove Mountain but he still seems to be searching for answers. Coetzee, however, is fresh off three consecutive top-10 finishes.

Match 17 - 10:05 a.m. - (4) Keegan Bradley def. (13) Marcus Fraser

Still no top-10s this season for Bradley, but when it comes to holing clutch putts, fewer on Tour are better.

Match 18 - 10:15 a.m. - (12) Fredrik Jacobson def. (5) Ernie Els

Potential upset here, even if the Junkman’s history in this event leaves much to be desired (two one-and-dones and a quarterfinal loss in 2004). Els’ T-13 finish at Riviera was only the second time he’s cracked the top 15 since he won the Open, while Jacobson has posted back-to-back top-7 results.

Match 19 - 10:25 a.m. - (4) Steve Stricker def. (13) Henrik Stenson

Even with the extended layoff, Stricker should be able to get past his first-round opponent – though, it should be noted, that wasn’t the case in 2011 and ’10.

Match 20 - 10:35 a.m. - (5) Nick Watney def. (12) David Toms

Watney has reached the quarterfinals each of the past three years, while Toms hasn’t cracked the top 50 in two starts this season.

Match 21 - 10:45 a.m. - (4) Dustin Johnson def. (13) Alexander Noren

DJ’s record in this event isn’t spectacular (three first-round losses), and he’s coming off two consecutive missed cuts, but he still should be able to handle Noren, who is making only his second Match Play appearance.

Match 22 - 10:55 a.m. - (5) Graeme McDowell def. (12) Padraig Harrington

Toss-up here, but we’ll give the edge to McDowell, who always seems to hunker down in the tight matches. Paddy is coming off consecutive missed cuts, too.

Match 23 - 11:05 a.m. - (4) Webb Simpson def. (13) David Lynn

Simpson lost in the first round in his only other appearance here, but a T-6 at Riviera shows he’s in good form heading back to the desert.

Match 24 - 11:15 a.m. - (5) Peter Hanson def. (12) Thomas Bjorn

Hanson is making his season debut on Tour, but his top-22 finishes in the Middle East bode well for this week.

Match 25 - 11:25 a.m. - (1) Louis Oosthuizen def. (16) Richie Ramsay

A surprisingly weak record for such a sweet swinger, but Oosty should face little resistance in Ramsay, who is seeing Dove Mountain for the first time.

Match 26 - 11:35 a.m. - (8) Branden Grace def. (9) Robert Garrigus

This has the potential to go extra holes. Neither player has teed it up here before. Grace had top-6 finishes in the Middle East, while Garrigus hasn’t finished worse than 22nd this season. A true toss-up.

Match 27 - 11:45 a.m. - (1) Luke Donald def. (16) Marcel Siem

Donald is one of the best match-play performers in the world for a reason. He dominates in this one.

Match 28 - 11:55 a.m. - (8) Paul Lawrie def. (9) Scott Piercy

The Scot reached the Sweet 16 last year in his first appearance at this event since 2003, and has more match-play experience in general, but if Piercy gets the putter going, this one could turn around in a hurry.

Match 29 - 12:05 p.m. - (1) Rory McIlroy def. (16) Shane Lowry

This could be much closer than anticipated, especially if the weather is as nasty as forecasted. Rory should extend his visit past Wednesday, though, for he’s never lost in the first round here.

Match 30 - 12:15 p.m. - (8) Rickie Fowler def. (9) Carl Pettersson

Give the advantage here to Rickie, who has top-6s in two of his three starts this season. Pettersson withdrew last week with the flu.

Match 31 - 12:25 p.m. - (1) Tiger Woods def. (16) Charles Howell III

We hope it’s close, if only for the entertainment, but there is no better bad-weather player in the world than Tiger, and he’s clearly in good form.

Match 32 - 12:35 p.m. - (8) Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano def. (9) Francesco Molinari

Castano has played well in three European Tour starts, finishing no worse than 20th, while Molinari has only played once (a MC in Abu Dhabi).

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Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''

Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai

Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.