Last weeks Africa Open provided another exciting Sunday finish with South African Darren Fichardt beating fellow South African Jaco Van Zyl and Frenchman Gregory Bourdy by two shots.
This week is The WGC – Accenture Match Play Championship which is the first of four World Golf Championship events. The tournament is a single knock out match play event. The field consists of the top 64 players available from the Official World Golf rankings and the players are seeded according to their rankings. The prize fund for this years event is $8.5 million, with the winner taking $1.4 million and the Walter Hagen Cup. All prize money officially counts on the PGA Tour, the European Tour and the Japan Golf Tour.
All of the rounds including the final are played over 18 holes, whereas from 1999 to 2010 the final was played over 36 holes. The losers of each semi final will also play an 18 hole consolation to determine third and fourth places. Because there are 6 rounds the tournament starts on Wednesday with one round being played on each of the first four days and the semi final and final being played on Sunday.
The tournament replaced the former Andersen Consulting World Championship event which was a 32 man, match play event played from 1995 through to 1998.
Tiger Woods has won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship three times, the most wins by any player, but he hasn’t advanced past the second round since winning in 2008. Tiger holds the record for biggest final win when he beat fellow Amercian Stewart Cink 8 & 7 in 2008 when the final was 36 holes and he also the record for biggest victory in an 18 hole match when he beat Stephen Ames 9 & 8 in the opening round of the 2006 event.
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club is in Arizona and was designed by Jack Nicklaus. From 2009 the Dove mountain course has been used for the WGC event. The course is the longest venue in PGA Tour history, playing at a length of 7,849 yards. In an effort to preserve and protect the surrounding lush desert which surrounds every hole, The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club makes use of numerous “green” technologies. Which include everything from using reclaimed water for the courses and landscaping to preservation of natural areas as havens for wildlife.
The Tortolita Mountain Park borders Dove Mountain to the northeast with 3,000 acres of undisturbed land perfect for hiking, camping and horseback riding. The 2,400-acre Tortolita Preserve frames Dove Mountain to the south providing further opportunities of spending time in the great outdoors.
Match play is a tough format to predict, but someone who makes lots of birdies like Phil Mickelson or Bubba Watson could figure towards the end of the week, or Englishmen Justin Rose and Ian Poulter who both played some great golf in winning the Ryder Cup for Europe in September could be a good bet.