And then there were 8… The Match play quarterfinals take place on this Saturday afternoon in Tuscon as we get to the final 4 who play the last 2 rounds of the match play event tomorrow. There are definitely some surprises in this final 8 with 3 double-digit seeds left, only 3 Americans, and two of the #1 seeds. With so many storylines in play we appear to be in for a great afternoon of golf with plenty of intrigue as is usual with Match Play.
For the 3rd day in a row my picks were exactly even yesterday. I went 8-8 after going 16-16 and the day before 32-32. Not surprisingly with those results 2 of my 4 final 4 are left. I had McIlroy defeating Kuchar in the finals and I’m still liking that pick headed into today’s action. Tiger was in my final foursome as well with Brandt Snedeker. They’re done for the week, but I’ve still got my champ pick alive.
Here’s how I think all today’s action will unfold:
#10 Mark Wilson over #9 Peter Hanson: The bracket hasn’t been kind to me. Except round 1 where I picked Wilson and round 2 where I picked Hansonover Ernie Els, I’ve stayed away from these guys who have repeatedly proved me wrong and dominated their competition. Wilson is in great form having won the Humana Challenge earlier this Season. He’s 4-1 know in this event after this year’s successful run and I think the UNC-alumnus will be able to pull this one out against the Swede who has yet to trail at any point this week and has been able to start fast each round. If Wilson can weather the early barrage, I think he gets into the semi’s.
#4 Matt Kuchar over #6 Hunter Mahan: Mahan has been racking up the birdies this week but doesn’t have the track record that Kuchar has. Kuchar knocked off last year’s runner-up Martin Kaymer yesterday. He finished 3rd last year in the Championship and looks to be he only returnee to that point. His steady, consistent attack has served him well so far this week. Mahan has the more dynamic game with the chance for more birdies, but Kuchar’s consistently on the greens and consistently close which should lead him back to the semi-finals.
#1 Rory McIlroy over #11 Sang-Moon Bae: Bae was already making a name for himself with his early tour success but has definitely emerged as a threat at Dove Mountain. It wouldn’t shock me to see him win this round either after beating Poulter and Schwartzel in earlier rounds. McIlroy will again have his work cut out for him, but appears to be rounding into form at the right time. He struggled over the closing holes in earlier rounds, but looked strong yesterday eliminating Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain. McIlroy has been to the quarterfinals here once before, while Bae is in his first appearance here. I do think it will be close, but I think McIlroy will pull out the win late possible even in extra holes.
#10 Martin Laird over #1 Lee Westwood: Westwood’s run has been long over-due. In his 11 previous trips to this event he hadn’t escaped round 2. He’s changed his approach becoming more aggressive and attack holes early in the round to build a quick lead. Laird meanwhile, hasn’t had to play any big name opponents to get to this point with the highest seed he’s face being his 1st round matchup against Alvero Quiros. Laird played bogey-free golf in the last round and is in the form to pull the upset here.
Round 1: 16-16
Round 2: 8-8
Round 3: 4-4