News & ToursFebruary 23, 2011

The vagaries of match play haunt round one

MARANA, Ariz. -- In the grand sweep of sporting tournaments was there ever a circumstance when being the No. 1 seed was less advantageous than at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship? The surprise, if there is one, is that three of the No. 1's managed to survive their opening day match. Only Tiger Woods lost and, if anything, you could make the argument that Woods didn't deserve the designation that Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood or Phil Mickelson shared with him at the Ritz-Carlton GC.

Altogether, 18 of the higher seeded players advanced in their matches. It's not exactly like flipping a coin but it's not far off which renders the whole "bracketology" concept almost as absurd as a scene from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

It doesn't mean there isn't some good fun, however. Jeff Overton and Ernie Els probably had the grandest time. They were all over the mountain. Overton won the first three holes, then Els won six of the next seven (losing the only one he failed to win) and it wasn't until Overton visited the desert one last time on the first extra hole that the wild ride came to a halt.

Of course, no one found the cactus with as much flair as Woods who hit his 3-wood right on the first extra hole to cost himself the match. He painfully extracted himself from the first cactus, only to advance it into another piece of desert flora, finally got it back in the fairway and wound up conceding on the green.

"I was trying to hit a ball in play," he said of the wayward tee shot. "The fairway is, what, 200 yards wide? And I can't put the ball in the fairway. That's very disappointing."

Disappointing, as well, for someone in the gallery at the first green who, as Woods removed his hat to shake Thomas Bjorn's hand yelled, "Anyone want tickets for Thursday?"

-- Jim Moriarty

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