For die-hard fans, round one of the Match Play Championship is one of the most riveting days of the year in golf, with the exception of the majors. There’s still a few hours left to make your Match Play bracket picks. I just did! — here’s a link to the printable bracket and/or you can fill out an online version that Golfweek built. I did both. It was very nerve-wracking to fill the paper version one out in pen. Thanks to Golfweek for making the electronic game user-friendly.
Here are screen shots of my bracket (hint: It’s European-biased…at least for the final four).
Here’s the text version of my picks:
Round 1 Picks: Lee Westwood – ENG | Nick Watney – USA | Retief Goosen – ZAF | Ryan Moore – USA | Steve Stricker – USA | Ryo Ishikawa – JPN | Luke Donald – ENG | Edoardo Molinari – ITA | Martin Kaymer – DEU | Justin Rose – ENG | Robert Karlsson – SWE | Hunter Mahan – USA | Rory McIlroy – NIR | Adam Scott – AUS | Jim Furyk – USA | Miguel A. Jimenez – ESP | Phil Mickelson – USA | Rickie Fowler – USA | Matt Kuchar – USA | Bo Van Pelt – USA | Graeme McDowell – NIR | Ross Fisher – ENG | Ian Poulter – ENG | Alvaro Quiros – ESP | Tiger Woods – USA | Geoff Ogilvy – AUS | Dustin Johnson – USA | Bill Haas – USA | Paul Casey – ENG | Jason Day – AUS | Ernie Els – ZAF | J.B. Holmes – USA
Round 2 Picks: Lee Westwood – ENG | Ryan Moore – USA | Steve Stricker – USA | Luke Donald – ENG | Martin Kaymer – DEU | Hunter Mahan – USA | Rory McIlroy – NIR | Miguel A. Jimenez – ESP | Rickie Fowler – USA | Matt Kuchar – USA | Graeme McDowell – NIR | Ian Poulter – ENG | Tiger Woods – USA | Dustin Johnson – USA | Paul Casey – ENG | J.B. Holmes – USA
Round 3 Picks: Lee Westwood – ENG | Luke Donald – ENG | Hunter Mahan – USA | Rory McIlroy – NIR | Rickie Fowler – USA | Graeme McDowell – NIR | Dustin Johnson – USA | Paul Casey – ENG
Final Four Picks: Luke Donald – ENG | Rory McIlroy – NIR | Graeme McDowell – NIR | Paul Casey – ENG
Winner: Graeme McDowell – NIR
A few things to note:
*TV times (ET): Golf Channel 12-6 Wed, 2-6 Thu, 2-6 Fri, 12-2 Sat, 9-1 Sun; NBC 2-6 Sat, 2-6 Sun.
*Defending champion Ian Poulter is a little irked that he’s first to tee off at 7:25am in the first round on Wednesday.
*Doug Ferguson of The Associated Press tweeted, “There have been 7 players in the interview room at the Match Play. Or maybe should say, seven Europeans.”
*Tim Clark withdrew from the field due to an elbow injury. He’s been replaced by J.B. Holmes, who will face Camilo Villegas.
*Matteo Manassero will become the youngest player to tee it up at the Match Play Championship at 17 years and 310 days. He’ll meet veteran Steve Stricker in the first round, which should be an intriguing match.
*Hunter Mahan and Sean O’Hair, who are good friends and also share swing coach Sean Foley, will battle in the first round. The two engaged in some friendly trash-talking last week at Riviera. Foley says he’ll watch his other students in the field, Justin Rose and Tiger Woods.
*Australian Brendan Jones will play against Phil Mickelson in the first round. Two years ago when Jones faced Tiger Woods, he was three-down, looked into the TV camera and deadpanned, “I’ve got him right where I want him.”
*Mike Walker will be live-blogging Tiger vs. Thomas Bjorn match at Golf.com. I’ll be chiming in with some of my observations. Feel free to swing by.
What does your bracket look like? Who did you pick in the final four? What do you think will be the biggest upsets/disappointments?
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)