Sterne earns Match Play spot after Joburg victory

Richard Sterne celebrates after winning the Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

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Richard Sterne’s first European Tour victory in nearly four years came with another perk: a spot in a World Golf Championship. Sterne won the Joburg Open on Sunday to move from 94th to 55th in the Official World Golf Ranking.

It was a well-timed win. Sunday was the deadline for players to earn spots in the WGC-Accenture Match Play. The top 64 available players earned spots in the bracket Feb. 20-24 at Dove Mountain Golf Club in Marana, Ariz. Phil Mickelson had previously said he plans to skip the event because of a family holiday.

Sterne was the only player to enter the OWGR’s top 65 in the final week to qualify for the Match Play. Bernd Wiesberger, who was inactive last week, dropped from 65th to 67th. The Match Play’s seeding will be determined by the OWGR released after this week’s Northern Trust Open. Only one player’s seed is set: Rory McIlroy is guaranteed to be No. 1 in the ranking.

Sterne started the year ranked 154th in the Official World Golf Ranking, but won Joburg and was second at the Dubai Desert Classic. He was one of four players to make the Match Play field after starting the year outside the OWGR’s top 100. Russell Henley (131st to 56th), Chris Wood (139th to 60th) and Charles Howell III (117th to 64th) were the others. Howell hasn’t competed in the Match Play since making seven consecutive starts from 2002-08.

Thongchai Jaidee (80th to 54th), Stephen Gallacher (98th to 57th) and Tim Clark (91st to 59th) were the only others to earn Match Play berths after starting 2013 outside the top 65.

• • •

WHO'S IN RIGHT NOW? Here's a list of the 64 participants for the WGC-Accenture Match Play along with their OWGR ranking (Note: World No. 10 Phil Mickelson dropped out last week and was replaced by No. 65 Shane Lowry):

  • 1. Rory McIlroy
  • 2. Tiger Woods
  • 3. Luke Donald
  • 4. Brandt Snedeker
  • 5. Justin Rose
  • 6. Louis Oosthuizen
  • 7. Adam Scott
  • 8. Lee Westwood
  • 9. Bubba Watson
  • 11. Ian Poulter
  • 12. Jason Dufner
  • 13. Steve Stricker
  • 14. Sergio Garcia
  • 15. Keegan Bradley
  • 16. Charl Schwartzel
  • 17. Dustin Johnson
  • 17. Webb Simpson
  • 19. Graeme McDowell
  • 20. Peter Hanson
  • 21. Nick Watney
  • 22. Matt Kuchar
  • 23. Bo Van Pelt
  • 24. Ernie Els
  • 25. Zach Johnson
  • 26. Hunter Mahan
  • 27. Martin Kaymer
  • 28. Jim Furyk
  • 29. Branden Grace
  • 30. Jamie Donaldson
  • 31. Gonzalo Fdez-Castano
  • 32. Paul Lawrie
  • 33. Rickie Fowler
  • 34. Carl Pettersson
  • 35. Francesco Molinari
  • 36. Bill Haas
  • 37. Scott Piercy
  • 38. Robert Garrigus
  • 39. Nicolas Colsaerts
  • 40. Thorbjorn Olesen
  • 41. George Coetzee
  • 42. Ryan Moore
  • 43. Jason Day
  • 44. Matteo Manassero
  • 45. John Senden
  • 46. Hiroyuki Fujita
  • 47. David Toms
  • 48. Padraig Harrington
  • 49. Thomas Bjorn
  • 50. Alexander Noren
  • 51. David Lynn
  • 52. Henrik Stenson
  • 53. Marcus Fraser
  • 54. Thongchai Jaidee
  • 55. Richard Sterne
  • 56. Russell Henley
  • 57. Stephen Gallacher
  • 58. Rafael Cabrera Bello
  • 59. Tim Clark
  • 60. Chris Wood
  • 61. Richie Ramsay
  • 62. K.J. Choi
  • 63. Marcel Siem
  • 64. Charles Howell III
  • 65. Shane Lowry

These players would be next in line to earn a spot in the field should a player drop out:

  • 66. Fredrik Jacobson
  • 67. Bernd Wiesberger
  • 68. Miguel A Jimenez
  • 69. Anders Hansen
  • 70. Scott Jamieson
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