matchplay pairings potential

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The first World Golf Championships event of the season, the Accenture Match Play Championship, is a week away. With the latest Official World Golf Rankings released after Sunday’s finish of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, we can start projecting some possible first-round matchups.

The top 64 players in the OWGR are invited to play in the event, with No. 1 playing No. 64, No. 2 playing No. 63 and so on.

Although the field list won’t be finalized until Friday, here are the first-round matchups IF each of the top 64 players opt to participate. If any players inside the top 64 do not play, they will be replaced by the next highest players in the ranking. Should that happen, of course, it would change all the matchups. That’s why we put an asterisk on the headline.

But for now, this is how it stands for the first round:

 

Rank Player   Rank Player
1 Lee Westwood, England vs 64 Toru Taniguchi, Japan
2 Martin Kaymer, Germany vs 63 Noh Seung-yul, Korea
3 Tiger Woods, U.S. vs 62 Thomas Bjorn, Denmark
4 Phil Mickelson, U.S. vs 61 Brendan Jones, Australia
5 Graeme McDowell, N. Ireland vs 60 Heath Slocum, U.S.
6 Paul Casey, England vs 59 Richard Green, Australia
7 Rory McIlroy, N. Ireland vs 58 Jonathan Byrd, U.S.
8 Steve Stricker, U.S. vs 57 Matteo Manassero, Italy
9 Luke Donald, England vs 56 Charley Hoffman, U.S.
10 Jim Furyk, U.S. vs 55 Ryan Palmer, U.S.
11 Ernie Els, S. Africa vs 54 Jeff Overton, U.S.
12 Ian Poulter, England vs 53 Stewart Cink, U.S.
13 Matt Kuchar, U.S. vs 52 Anders Hansen, Denmark
14 Dustin Johnson, U.S. vs 51 Mark Wilson, U.S.
15 Robert Karlsson, Sweden vs 50 Hiroyuki Fujita, Japan
16 Retief Goosen, S. Africa vs 49 K.J. Choi, Korea
17 Francesco Molinari, Italy vs 48 Ryan Moore, U.S.
18 Hunter Mahan, U.S. vs 47 Sean O’Hair, U.S.
19 Bubba Watson, U.S. vs 46 Bill Haas, U.S.
20 Louis Oosthuizen, S. Africa vs 45 Bo Van Pelt, U.S.
21 Alvaro Quiros, Spain vs 44 Y.E. Yang, Korea
22 Tim Clark, S.Africa vs 43 Camilo Villegas, Colombia
23 Miguel Angel Jimenez, Spain vs 42 Yuta Ikeda, Japan
24 Edoardo Molinari, Italy vs 41 Martin Laird, Scotland
25 Charl Schwartzel, S.Africa vs 40 Ryo Ishikawa, Japan
26 Adam Scott, Australia vs 39 Ben Crane, U.S.
27 Kim Kyung-Tae, Korea vs 38 Jason Day, Australia
28 Robert Allenby, Australia vs 37 Ross Fisher, England
29 Rickie Fowler, U.S. vs 36 Peter Hanson, Sweden
30 Geoff Ogilvy, Australia vs 35 Padraig Harrington, Ireland
31 Zach Johnson, U.S. vs 34 Justin Rose, England
32 Nick Watney, U.S. vs 33 Anthony Kim, U.S.

 

NOTES AND THOUGHTS (should the pairings hold up)

> Ian Poulter, the defending champion, won’t exactly be able to ease into the tournament. His first-round opponent is Stewart Cink, who in the last three years at this event has finished second (2008), third (2009) and reached the quarters (2010).

> Last year, Lee Westwood was the No. 2 seed and was knocked out in the second round by Nick Watney, who was the 31st weed. This year, Westwood is the No. 1 seed and could see Watney, who’s the No. 32 seed, again in the second round. Westwood would need to beat Toru Taniguchi and Watney would need to beat Anthony Kim.

> Of the 32 first-round matchups above, just five have American vs. American: Jim Furyk-Ryan Palmer; Dustin Johnson-Mark Wilson; Hunter Mahan-Sean O’Hair, Bubba Watson-Bill Haas and Nick Watney-Anthony Kim. Wilson, making his Accenture Match Play debut, will be seeking his third PGA TOUR win in 2011.

> Some of the other first-round matchups that intrigue us? Geoff Ogilvy, a two-time winner in this event, vs. Padraig Harrington; Reigning PLAYERS champion Tim Clark, who knocked out Tiger Woods two years ago, vs. Camilo Villegas, who reached the semifinals last year; and Rory McIlroy vs. Jonathan Byrd, who won the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

> Paul Casey is 10-2 in matches the last two years; he’s lost in the finals both times. His projected opponent, Richard Green, has never won a match in four appearances here.

> Just three of last year’s semifinalists are back in the field. The fourth, Sergio Garcia, has fallen to 81st in the rankings and did not qualify.

> Also not qualifying is Vijay Singh, who will not play in this event for the first time since 2003. Singh is ranked just behind Garcia at No. 82.