After just two rounds in the desert, the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship is down to the top 16. By the end of play today, there will be just four players left to duel it out for the championship tomorrow. Match play is by its nature unpredictable and this tournament has reinforced that with all the #1 seeds gone and only Bubba Watson left of the top ten players in the world rankings headed into the sweet 16.
Yesterday, my picks were pretty sweet going 12-4 in round two following my 18-14 record in round one. Hopefully today’s will be as good. I’ll pick each of the eight matches teeing off this morning and then post my picks for the later matches on twitter so follow at Follow @FantasyCPR and I’ll let you know who I’ve got headed into the final four.
Here’s my previews and picks for round 3:
Match 49- Robert Garrigus over Fredrik Jacobson
Garrigus has been cruising and has made more birdies than anyone all week. He knocked off Louis Oosthuizen 3 and 2. He’s putting well and always is a big hitter off the tee. His game is well-tailored for match play and keeps the pressure on his opponents. His next opponent is Fredrik Jacobson who beat Marcus Fraser 4 and 3. Jacobson hasn’t been challenged yet as both his previous competitors have struggled.
Match 50- Matt Kuchar over Nicolas Colsaerts
This is one of the better matches of the day as steady Matt Kuchar takes on the long-hitting Belgian. Colsearts fell behind early but battled back and defeated Justin Rose 4 and 2 yesterday while knocking in six birdies. Kuchar needed more holes and less birdies to knock off Sergio Garcia 2 and 1. Kuchar and Garcia were locked in a tie for the first five holes where Kuchar took the lead. He gave that hole back eventually but never trailed in the match although he only led by more than one after getting the win on the 17th to close the match. Kuchar has a much better history at this event although Colsaerts has won the Volvo Match Play event on the European Tour.
Match 51- Graeme McDowell over Shane Lowry
McDowell faces his second Irish opponent as he takes on Shane Lowry. Lowry crushed Carol Pettersson as an encore to knocking off world #1 Rory McIlroy on day one. Pettersson finished his match with Rickie Fowler early in the day but couldn’t keep up with Lowry in his match as Lowry dropped five birdies and no bogeys. In a much more closely contested match, McDowell needed extra holes to defeat Alexander Noren in a match that was all-square or within a hole of it all day long. McDowell has more experience and should be able to end Lowry’s Cinderella run as the 64th seed, but Lowry will be more rested and it wouldn’t shock me if he won again.
Match 52- Jason Day over Bubba Watson
Continuing the theme of top players going down, I think Watson goes down in this match against the Australian Jason Day who hits it close to as far as Bubba. Day needed 19 holes to dispatch PGA Tour rookie Russell Henley. Day was up early, struggled in the middle, but finished strong to move on to the third round. Watson has played more holes than any other player this week thanks to the 22 holes he needed to beat Jim Furyk yesterday. This will be a great match and should be lots of fun to watch.
Match 53- Scott Piercy over Steve Stricker
Piercy is playing incredible golf this week and steam-rolled Luke Donald. Piercy went up three after three holes and won going away 7 and 6. He had five birdies and an eagle in his 12 holes and never lost a hole. Steve Stricker was in a much tighter match against Nick Watney that required extra holes going 21 before Stricker closed the match. Stricker won this event in 2001 but has only made the third round three other times in 11 appearances. Piercy is making his first appearance at this event and doing it in impressive fashion; I think he’ll get another win today.
Match 54- Ian Poulter over Tim Clark
Poulter is a match play beast who always seems to do well at Dove Mountain where he won three years ago. Clark has looked solid as usual, but doesn’t have the length to last much longer in my opinion. Look for Poulter to improve on his 20-9 all-time record in this event with another win today.
Match 55- Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano over Webb Simpson
Fernandez-Castano won two matches yesterday and now takes on Webb Simpson. Gonzalo has avoided trouble and Simpson has been working his way out of it all week, so I think the Spaniard has another win coming today.
Match 56- Hunter Mahan over Martin Kaymer
In this marquee matchup Hunter Mahan, who won last year, faces off against Martin Kaymer, who finished second two years ago. Mahan’s putter carried him to the win last year and it’s burning up the freezing desert again this year, so look for him to get revenge for his 2011 match where Kaymer won 2 and 1.