Match Play: Tiger headlines staff predictions

Tiger Woods will face Charles Howell III in the first round of the 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Tiger Woods will face Charles Howell III in the first round of the 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. ( Getty Images )

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Editor's note: If you'd like to fill out your own bracket, you can do it with our Match Play Challenge. Play now!

• • •

Tiger Woods hasn't advanced past the second round in three chances since winning the 2008 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Yet, he still is the oddsmakers' favorite this week at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.

Woods has teed it up only twice in 2013, missing the cut in the European Tour event at Abu Dhabi and then winning his seventh career title at Torrey Pines with a dominating performance four weeks ago in the Farmers Insurance Open.

Woods will begin his trek toward the championship hardware with a first-round match against Charles Howell III, who is coming off his first missed cut of the season.

Two of our panelists have jumped on the Woods bandwagon, while Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Luke Donald all register as favorites as well.

As for our panel, there has been a change at the top, with Nick Masuda taking the lead in the clubhouse after surpassing $3 million in earnings behind Schwartzel's third-place finish last week at the Northern Trust Open. Jeff Rude remains right on his tail, as does Lance Ringler.

Take a look at this week's picks:

Rank Winner Wild Card Last Week
Rude Tiger Woods

Because he is Tiger Woods and is a multiple match-play winner who knows a thing or two about winning in match play.

Fredrik Jacobson

Almost won last week, contended at Pebble the week before. Junkman is dangerous in match play.

Winner: Luke Donald ($99,000); wild card: Chris Kirk ($35,640). 2013 total: $2,815,999

McCabe Charl Schwartzel

He will have to get past Rory McIlroy in the quarterfinals and good friend Louis Oosthuizen in the semifinals, but no worries. He's in good form and has shown a good feel for this Dove Mountain golf course.

Matteo Manassero

Has defending champ Hunter Mahan right out of the gates, but the good news is, Manassero has made it past the first round in each of his two tries here. This time, he gets even further, to the final against Schwartzel.

Winner: Keegan Bradley ($99,000); wild card: Chris Kirk ($35,640). 2013 total: $1,821,850

Martin Louis Oosthuizen

A lot of focus on Charl Schwartzel, but I'm going to take a look at his countryman, Louis Oosthuizen, whose consistent play has been overshadowed by the fact that he's made just two starts this year. One of those is a victory at the Volvo Golf Champions. Oosthuizen has finished in the top 6 in seven of his past nine worldwide starts.

Ryan Moore

The former Arizona resident knows how to play this format. He was a quarterfinalist in his last appearance in this championship in 2011. Finished T-27 at the Northern Trust Open and fourth at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in his last two starts.

Winner: Bubba Watson (MC); wild card: J.B. Holmes (MC). 2013 total: $1,175,690

Ringler Luke Donald

Not a long hitter which means he will hit first into the greens and apply pressure. Very accurate and consistent player, not to mention a former winner of this event.

David Toms

Is career WGC/Match Play record is 24-10, only Tiger Woods has a better record.

Winner: Jimmy Walker ($99,000); wild card: Charles Howell III (MC). 2013 total: $2,448,886

Masuda Tiger Woods

I considered Rory. Didn't feel right. Thought about Keegan Bradley after his Ryder Cup play. Still didn't feel right. Leads me back to ol' reliable - or the man with the best career record at Match Play. Boring, I know.

Thorbjorn Olesen

Hung with Tiger Woods at the Open Championship in 2012 and has two top-3 finishes thus far this season. Expect the kid to make some noise this week.

Winner: Charl Schwartzel ($343,200); wild card: Patrick Cantlay (MC). 2013 total: $3,019,408

The field according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings

  • 1. Tiger Woods
  • 2. Luke Donald
  • 3. Adam Scott
  • 4. Matt Kuchar
  • 5. Steve Stricker
  • 6. Jason Dufner
  • 7. Lee Westwood
  • 8. Justin Rose
  • 10. Jim Furyk
  • 11. Ian Poulter
  • 12. Bo Van Pelt
  • 13. Rory McIlroy
  • 15. Dustin Johnson
  • 16. Sergio Garcia
  • 17. Louis Oosthuizen
  • 18. Bubba Watson
  • 19. Charl Schwartzel
  • 20. Francesco Molinari
  • 21. Robert Garrigus
  • 22. Ryan Moore
  • 24. Zach Johnson
  • 25. Ernie Els
  • 26. Hunter Mahan
  • 27. Jamie Donaldson
  • 28. Nick Watney
  • 29. Jason Day
  • 31. Webb Simpson
  • 32. Henrik Stenson
  • 34. Rickie Fowler
  • 35. Keegan Bradley
  • 36. John Senden
  • 37. Peter Hanson
  • 38. Matteo Manassero
  • 39. Carl Pettersson
  • 42. Scott Piercy
  • 43. Fredrik Jacobson
  • 45. Nicolas Colsaerts
  • 46. Bill Haas
  • 47. Graeme McDowell
  • 48. Martin Kaymer
  • 50. Thongchai Jaidee
  • 51. Paul Lawrie
  • 55. Padraig Harrington
  • 57. Thorbjorn Olesen
  • 61. Charles Howell III
  • 63. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
  • 65. Marcel Siem
  • 67. Rafael Cabrera Bello
  • 69. George Coetzee
  • 70. Branden Grace
  • 71. David Toms
  • 74. Marcus Fraser
  • 76. Hiroyuki Fujita
  • 78. Thomas Bjorn
  • 85. K.J. Choi
  • 90. Alexander Noren
  • 96. Tim Clark
  • 110. Richard Sterne
  • 126. Stephen Gallacher
  • 139. Shane Lowry
  • 141. Russell Henley
  • 144. Chris Wood
  • 154. Richie Ramsay
  • 155. David Lynn readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.