Snow in Arizona on Wednesday was surprising, but not nearly as surprising as yesterday’s results. Every year in the Match Play Championship big names go down early, but the #1 and #2 overall seeds don’t usually both crash out in the first round. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are gone and so are tons of people’s brackets in the PGA Tour’s version of bracket challenge.
My bracket took some serious damage too losing my eventual champions pick when Russell Henley took out Charl Schwartzel, half my final four, and three of my elite eight. This is why this is a tournament best picked round-by-round.
Overall yesterday my picks, which you can read in retrospect by clicking here, ended the day at 17-13 with two matches still pending. Those two matches weren’t able to finish before darkness fell, but there were enough finals for me to make my picks for the next round today. Here’s my picks in the round two matches which are scheduled to get underway at 9:20 local time (11:20 ET).
Match 33- Nicolas Colsaerts over Justin Rose
Colsaerts won handily over Bill Haas for his first Accenture Match Play Championship victory. He did win the Volvo World Match Play event last year and looked strong in round one. His driving distance is hard to match, and Rose is just 6-7 all-time in this event. He looked good on Wednesday, but struggled before finishing off K.J. Choi 2 and 1 to move onto the second round. I think the long-hitting Belgian gets the win even though he’s the 10 seed and Rose is the #2.
Match 34-Matt Kuchar over Sergio Garcia
Kuchar cruised in his 3 and 2 win over Hiroyuki Fujita shooting -1 and missing an opportunity to end things earlier. He’ll move on in the second round to face Sergio who needed extra hole before putting away Thonhchai Jaidee. Garcia looked done after losing the last hole and almost losing the first extra hole, but made a birdie on hole 20 to move on. Kuchar is one of my picks to make a deep run and looked in better form in round one. It would be another numerical upset since Kuchar is a #6 and Garcia is a #3.
Match 35-Tim Clark over Thorbjorn Olesen
I picked Clark to upset Adam Scott and think he’ll follow up that 2 and 1 victory with a win over Thorbjorn Olesen. Olesen beat Welshman Jamie Donaldson in round one never trailing and only losing three holes all day. Clark will be looking to make the third round for his third straight time at this event.
Match 36-Ian Poulter over Bo Van Pelt
Poulter is known for his match play prowess and is a former champion at this event (2010). Stephen Gallacher of Scotland took him to the 17th hole though before Poulter was able to advance 2 and 1. He’ll take on Bo Van Pelt who won 6 and 5 over John Senden. He was the first winner to get through into round two needing just one hole on Thursday to finish his match, but his win was more a result of the Aussie Senden’s struggles than his strong play. I’ll take Poulter to move on in this won.
Match 37-Bubba Watson over Jim Furyk
Bubba reached the semifinals two years ago, and looked solid as he began his run this year with a 2 and 1 victory over Chris Wood. He’ll take on Jim Furyk who ousted Ryan Moore with a four-hole winning streak after play resumed yesterday. Furyk hasn’t had great success at this event in the past and will have trouble matching Bubba’s length. You can’t be sure who will come out firing tomorrow, but I think Watson will defeat Furyk in one of the better matches of the day.
Match 38-Jason Day over Russell Henley
Russell Henley shocked Charl Schwartzel who had been placing well in events all over the world before his first round exit to this PGA Tour rookie. Henley won his first ever PGA start, so how far can he get in his WGC debut? I think Jason Day will end his run in this match who has a pair of top tens in his first three tourneys on tour and a solid 4-2 record in this event. Day looks like he could be in for a long run this week, and since I had him in the first round upset I’ll take him again in this one. Day started out on fire getting a 6-up lead in the first ten shooting a -5 on the day without a bogey in his 13 holes played before wrapping things up 6 and 5.
Match 39-Martin Kaymer over Rafael Cabrera-Bello
Kaymer reached the finals two years ago where he lost to Luke Donald. He struggled a bit at times on Friday, but in the end he was able to win 2 and 1 over George Coetzee. His opponent in the next round needed even longer to knock off Lee Westwood as he took out the #2 seed in 19 holes. Cabrera-Bello made some clutch putts to get his first Accenture win and could be a tough out for Kaymer. Ultimately, I think the German will beat the Spaniard in this international match, but Kaymer may need all the holes on the course and possibly even extra to get the win.
Match 40-Hunter Mahan over Richard Sterne
Despite a 1-2 record coming into play yesterday, Sterne got one of the quieter upsets of the day as he took care of Jason Dufner in round one. Sterne is in good form and will be a second tough international matchup for Hunter Mahan who dispatched Matteo Manassero in round 1 with a tidy 5 and 4. Mahan didn’t need to play great since Manassero struggled and will need to step up his game if he wants to successfully defend his title. Mahan defeated Stern 4 and 3 in the first round of 2008, but both players are at very different stages of their careers from then and Sterne will be a good test for Mahan.
Keep reading for picks and analysis for matches 41-48