The Loop

And then there were eight

February 18, 2010

Only eight of the 20 Americans in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship field advanced to the second round, (three by virtue of defeating other Americans), further attesting to the rising international dominance addressed previously here.

The three top-ranked players in the world, all Americans, ordinarily would argue against diminishing U.S. influence, but none are playing. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson (Nos. 1 and 3) did not enter and Steve Stricker (No. 2) was bounced by Ross McGowan.

England's Lee Westwood remains the highest-ranked player in the field (No. 4) and will play American Nick Watney in the second round on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Japan's Ryo Ishikawa, who came from two holes down with three to play to win, 1-up, over Michael Sim, warrants closer scrutiny from here on out. In round two, he plays McGowan.

At least two more Americans will bow out in the second round: Stewart Cink is matched with Sean O'Hair and Zach Johnson plays Brian Gay.

-- John Strege