Match Play: McIlroy vs. Lowry; Tiger vs. Howell
• • •
The bracket is set for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Top-seeded Rory McIlroy will face Ireland’s Shane Lowry in the first round, while three-time winner Tiger Woods will face former Isleworth neighbor Charles Howell III. Woods is the No. 2 seed.
McIlroy, the runner-up last year at Dove Mountain, will be making just his second start of the year. He missed the cut at the Abu Dhabi Championship in his 2013 debut.
Luke Donald and Louis Oosthuizen will be the bracket’s No. 3 and 4 seeds, respectively. Donald will face Marcel Siem in Wednesday’s first round, while Oosthuizen will face former U.S. Amateur champion Richie Ramsay.
Lowry, Siem and Ramsay are all making their Match Play debuts, while Howell is making his first appearance since 2008. He played in the event seven consecutive years from 2002-08, losing in the first round four times. Woods beat Howell, then 17, in the quarterfinals of the 1996 U.S. Amateur; Woods won his third and final U.S. Amateur that week at Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon.
Brandt Snedeker, No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and No. 9 Phil Mickelson are the only players in the world’s top 64 not scheduled to participate. The 64 qualifiers were set after the Feb. 10 edition of the Official World Golf Ranking, but seeds were based on the following week’s ranking.
Fredrik Jacobson was No. 66 in the world ranking Feb. 10, and only got in the field after Snedeker’s withdrawal, but moved up 19 spots to No. 47 after finishing T-3 at the Northern Trust Open. It was the biggest jump in the OWGR among the Match Play qualifiers.
Other notable matches:
• Sixth-seeded Adam Scott will face No. 59 Tim Clark in a matchup of players who use the long putter.
• Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, who’s finished no worse than fifth in his past seven worldwide starts, will face Georgia alum Russell Henley, who opened his rookie year on Tour by winning the Sony Open in Hawaii. Schwartzel is the ninth seed, while Henley is No. 56.
• Two major champions will face off when 17th-seeded Graeme McDowell plays No. 48 Padraig Harrington.
• Hunter Mahan will open his title defense by facing Matteo Manassero, who’s won his first-round match in both his Accenture appearances. Mahan has lost in the first round just once in five appearances. Mahan is the No. 23 seed, and Manassero is 42nd.