Match Play: Predicting all 32 first-round matches

Alexander Noren

Alexander Noren

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Hilton Head, SC - Harbour Town Golf Links

12:20:01 AM ET. 04/17/2014




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We have plenty of feet on the ground at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, and our Sean Martin and Alex Miceli decided to take a stab at some predictions for the Round of 64.

Miceli took the Gary Player and San Snead divisions, while Martin tackled the Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan divisions.

Take a look at their picks:

• • •

Gary Player Division

Tiger Woods def. Charles Howell III: Woods has not advanced past the second round in his last three tries, but expect him to get to the next round. Then, anything’s possible.

Francesco Molinari def. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano: Molinari is the stronger player and is a solid short-game technician, which bodes well in an 18-hole sprint.

Webb Simpson def. David Lynn: Simpson is coming off of a solid Northern Trust Open last week. For Lynn to win, he would have to be on his game and Simpson would need to miss some putts.

Thomas Bjorn def. Peter Hanson: Bjorn has faced the best in match play and come out victorious.

Lee Westwood def. Rafael Cabrera-Bello: Westwood is slowly rounding into form after consecutive weeks at Pebble Beach and Riviera. Expect the Englishman to take care of business against the Spaniard.

Martin Kaymer def. George Coetzee: Kaymer found his game and resurrected his career at the Ryder Cup. Expect Kaymer to build on that success and his last two years here: runner-up in 2011 and T-9 last year.

Richard Sterne def. Jason Dufner: Coming off a win two weeks ago at the Joburg Open, Sterne has never won a match in two appearances. His first win will be Wednesday.

Hunter Mahan def. Matteo Manassero: Mahan's season flat-lined after the Masters last year, but the defending Match Play champion has been showing positive signs in the past couple of weeks. It's hard to see the defending champion go down in the first round.

• • •

Sam Snead Division

Luke Donald def. Marcel Siem: One of the best short-game players in the world is an easy pick this week. Donald is focused and has been playing well.

Scott Piercy def. Paul Lawrie: Up-and-comer Piercy will have a dogfight with Lawrie but should prevail.

Steve Stricker def. Henrik Stenson: After a six-week break, Stricker is excited about playing golf. The 2001 Match Play champion has the experience and moxie to get past the first round.

Nick Watney def. David Toms: Watney is the better player at this point of his career. Expect Watney to go far this week.

Adam Scott def. Tim Clark: Scott made his U.S. debut last week at Riviera, where he tied for 10th. However, he has lost in the first round in each of the past two years.

Thorbjorn Olesen def. Jamie Donaldson: In his first trip to the Match Play, Denmark's Olesen should prove he is the real deal and advance over Donaldson.

Ian Poulter def. Stephen Gallacher: Gallacher won recently, but he’s playing a match-play star in Poulter. Enough said.

Bo Van Pelt def. John Senden: Van Pelt is one of the most consistent players in the field. He missed the cut last week, which means he had a couple of extra days off, which could only help him.

• • •

Bobby Jones Division

Rory McIlroy def. Shane Lowry: This win won't be as easy as McIlroy would like, but he'll get by his former teammate on the Irish national squad.

Rickie Fowler def. Carl Pettersson: Fowler opened his year with two sixth-place finishes. The steady Pettersson will be a tough out, though. I want to see a McIlroy-Fowler match in the second round.

Alexander Noren def. Dustin Johnson: Johnson just hasn't played well since winning the season-opener at Kapalua, while Noren was steady through the European Tour's Desert Swing.

Graeme McDowell def. Padraig Harrington: McDowell has lost in the first round in four of six appearances. Harrington has lost in the first round three consecutive years. Tough to pick, but I'll take McDowell.

Bubba Watson def. Chris Wood: Watson has never lost in the first round in two appearances. One guarantee: Someone whose last name starts with 'W' will lose this match.

Ryan Moore def. Jim Furyk: I see big things this week for Moore, a former Arizona resident who had a sterling amateur record in match play. He was a quarterfinalist here in 2011.

Charl Schwartzel def. Russell Henley: Schwartzel is one of the hottest players on the planet. Henley, who won in his PGA Tour pro debut at the Sony Open, missed the cut last week at Riviera.

Jason Day def. Zach Johnson: Day has advanced out of the first round in both appearances here, and he has two top-10s already this year. Johnson has lost in the first round in his past two appearances here.

• • •

Ben Hogan Division

Louis Oosthuizen def. Richie Ramsay: Ramsay proved his match-play mettle in winning the 2006 U.S. Amateur, but that's not going to help him here.

Robert Garrigus def. Branden Grace: This may be one of the first round's most underrated matchups. Both players are making their Match Play debuts. I'll give Garrigus, an Arizona resident, the edge.

Keegan Bradley def. Marcus Fraser: Don't see this one ending any other way.

Fredrik Jacobson def. Ernie Els: Watch out for the 5-12 matchup! This is one of those, and I see the 12 seed sneaking out with a victory. Jacobson got into the Match Play only after Brandt Snedeker withdrew, but he has finished in the top 10 in his past two starts.

Justin Rose def. K.J. Choi: Rose is the world's No. 6 player, and I expect him to play like it.

Nicolas Colsaerts def. Bill Haas: Remember Colsaerts' Ryder Cup performance? Haas is coming off a disappointing Sunday at Riviera.

Sergio Garcia def. Thongchai Jaidee: Garcia's game is back on the upswing.

Matt Kuchar def. Hiroyuki Fujita: Kuchar has made it out of the first round in all three appearances here, advancing to the quarterfinals last year and finishing third in 2011.

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