Your Guide to the Six Best Bets for Round One of Match Play
By Stephanie Wei under European PGA Tour

Guest blogger AJ Voelpel shares his best bets on this week’s Match Play Championship. He’s a big odds/Vegas enthusiast. Gamble at your own risk.

Ian Poulter tosses a marker

I’ve drawn up one conclusion after looking over this year’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship bracket: Picking this year’s winner seems about as rare as rocking horse crap. The 64-player bracket mimics the NCAA Tournament, but is MUCH more difficult to predict. While seeds play a vital role in March, they are completely meaningless in this case.

Since it’s nearly a coin flip for each matchup, we’ll look to see where we can get the best odds and value for our buck. Here are my best six bets for the first round. And please, use them for your financial benefit.

Zach Johnson +110 over Justin Rose

You have to love plus odds for a guy as competitive as Johnson.  Coming off a T-29 at the Northern Trust Open, he’s one of the few really experience guys in the field. If his AEGON hat and sunglasses don’t intimidate you, his layups into every par-5 are sure to make the most English of opponents run for cover.

Henrik Stenson +170 over Lee Westwood

There’s way too much value here not to put a little action on the 2007 champ.  Although Stenson hasn’t had a very good 2011 thus far (best finish T-42), Westwood hasn’t exactly lit up the desert either.   This bet would be a lock if Westwood knew Heart Attack Grill is less than 90 miles away.

Jeff Overton +100 over Ernie Els

What happens when you win over $3.4 million and scream at golf shots in 2010?  Party too hard and forget the new season started.   Apparently, that’s what happened to Overton.  Lucky for him, Els is also slowly breaking into 2011.

Ryan Moore (best bet) -110 over Francesco Molinari

Moore is coming off a solid top-5 performance at the Northern Trust while Molinari hasn’t played competitively since Jan. 30.  How do you not LOVE Moore in this spot, especially with all the successful match play experience he built up as an amateur.   Not to mention he wears Francis Ouimet’s tie and Freddie’s skate shoes.

Ryo Ishikawa +150 over Charl Schwartzel

If Ryo’s rock star coolness doesn’t inflate Schwartzel, maybe it will be one of the 985 Japanese journalists following him around the course.  I can’t shy away from the big value on the bigger talent, even though Schwartzel is a lock to finish top-5 every time out.

Charley Hoffman +155 over Luke Donald

Donald has never lost in the first round.  According to the Due Theory, dude’s in big trouble.  Beginner’s luck on Hoffman’s end (first pro Match Play event) doesn’t hurt.

And just for ha-ha’s, three guys who can win it all:

Rory McIlroy 14-1:  When he lines up putts, they usually go in.

Dustin Johnson 28-1:  Long ball makes opponents cry.

Charl Schwartzel 40-1: Just in case he beats Ryo.