The desert duels have definitely not disappointed this week in the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship outside of Tuscon, Arizona. After starting with 64 players four rounds ago, only four remain. Ultimately we’re left with a formidable foursome that have all eliminated their share of big names along the way. Here’s how I see the top four playing out today on the final day at Dove Mountain:
4. Jason Day
Obviously, Day has played incredible golf to get this far including knocking off Bubba Watson and Graeme McDowell yesterday. He needed ever single hole to eliminate McDowell after falling behind early. He drives the ball further than his final-four opponent, Matt Kuchar, but is a bit too erratic at times to get the best of the steady American. Day has played a lot of golf the last few days and only had four birdies in his 18-hole match with McDowell but it was enough for him to get the win. He’s the lowest seed remaining as an #11 but has beat Zach Johnson, Russell Henley, Bubba Watson, and Graeme McDowell on his path to the semifinals.
3. Ian Poulter
Always a match play force, Poulter has cruised through the first rounds without ever playing the eighteenth hole competitively. His last two opponents yesterday were Tim Clark who he beat 5 and 3 and Steve Stricker who he beat 3 and 2. Poulter’s only bogey in his last two rounds came on the first hole against Stricker which is one of only three holes he’s trailed after all tournament long. He won’t be an easy out for Hunter Mahan in the semi-finals and could easily win his second Match Play title after wining three years ago. I’m going to give him the edge in the third-place match after losing a tight one to Mahan in the semi’s.
2. Hunter Mahan
Mahan played a bogey-free round against reigning US Open champion Webb Simpson and it still took him until the 18th to close Simpson out. It’s hard to imagine anyone playing better on a specific course than Mahan is playing at Dove Mountain. He hasn’t trailed in a match since the first round… of last year. In the last 141 holes he’s played, Hunter has either been all-square or leading. No champion has successfully defended his Match Play Championship title since Tiger did it in 2004 which was the only time its happened in the 14-year history of this event. I think Mahan will have enough to take out Poulter, but all the close hard-fought matches may take a toll and ultimately I think he’ll fall just short of repeating in the desert as he falls in the final to…
1. Matt Kuchar
The steady American has four career wins on the PGA Tour and is known for his steady, consistent play. He’s lost the last two years to the eventual champion losing to Luke Donald semifinals two years ago and to Hunter Mahan in the quarterfinals last year. This year I think he’ll complete his run and get the win after beating Day and Mahan. Kuchar may not have the flash of Poulter or Mahan, but his consistency and steady play should be enough to get him the win today.
Regardless of whether my picks are right or not today, it’s been an awesome tournament and I’ve really enjoyed writing about it and making my picks. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed reading my quick breakdowns and they’ve made the event even that much more enjoyable to watch. Good luck with your picks today, and it’ll be great to see how it all unfolds. All four of the golfers that have made it this far are fun to watch and should be heard from again as we continue on in the PGA Tour season. Make sure to come back Tuesday for my Honda Classic preview as the Tour heads to Florida to take on PGA National as they start the Florida swing.
First round: 18-14
Second Round: 12-4
Third Round: 7-1
Fourth Round: 3-1