Mickelson decides to play WGC Match Play
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Count in Phil Mickelson for the Match Play Championship.
Mickelson, who skipped the World Golf Championship event in Arizona a year ago, said last November he might sit out again depending on a family vacation. But after he finished his final round at Pebble Beach on Sunday, Mickelson told The Associated Press, “I’ll be there.”
Lee Westwood, who took over at No. 1 in the world three months ago, will be the top seed when the Match Play Championship begins Feb. 23 on Dove Mountain just north of Tucson.
PGA champion Martin Kaymer will be the No. 2 seed, followed by Tiger Woods and Mickelson.
The 64-man field was determined Sunday night by the latest world ranking, and the only player to crack the top 64 was Anders Hansen. His tie for second in the Dubai Desert Classic moved him from No. 70 to No. 52.
Henrik Stenson, who won the Match Play in 2007 the first year it moved to Arizona, fell from No. 62 to No. 65 after missing the cut in Dubai. He would be first alternate, depending on a fellow European.
Francesco Molinari had planned to skip the Match Play because his wife was expecting. She gave birth to their first child, a son, last week. Asked if he had decided to play, Molinari replied to the AP on Twitter, “not yet no, 60(percent) yes 40(percent) no right now.”
Players have until Friday to decide to play, and the pairings will be released a week from Sunday. After that, alternates could replace someone in the field until all matches tee off.
If Molinari decides to play, Westwood would play Toru Taniguchi of Japan in the first round. Taniguchi reached the semifinals of the Match Play when it was held in Australia in 2001, losing to eventual winner Steve Stricker in the semifinals.
Kaymer would face Seung-yul Noh, while Woods would play longtime friend Thomas Bjorn and Mickelson would get Brendan Jones.
Other matches that could be intriguing if Molinari plays would be Sean O’Hair against Hunter Mahan, two pupils of swing coach Sean Foley; defending champion Ian Poulter against Stewart Cink; and Geoff Ogilvy against Padraig Harrington.
The format for the Accenture Match Play Championship has changed this year from a 36-hole championship match on Sunday to 18-hole semifinals Sunday morning and an 18-hole championship that afternoon.