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WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship: Day 2 primer

February 22, 2012

Opening day at the WGC-Accenture Match Play delivered a bit of everything, from collapses to comebacks, and from tight battles to blowouts. Of course, that's to be expected when 32 matches are being played. Day 2 will feature half the action, but there's still plenty to talk about. Here's a rundown of what to watch for on Thursday.

Match we're most looking forward to seeing

No. 4 Nick Watney vs. No. 5 Tiger Woods: One guy (Watney) cruised and one guy (Woods) was just glad to survive. Still, this sets up a meeting between one of the game's all-time players and Watney, who many, including Butch Harmon -- Watney's current instructor who used to coach Woods -- feel is poised to be the United States' next great golfer.

Biggest surprise left in the field

Ernie Els: The "Big Easy" barely qualified for this event and coming off a year in which he had only one top 10 on the PGA Tour in 21 starts, he was supposed to be an easy win for the defending champion, Luke Donald. But Els didn't just win, he dominated the world's No. 1-ranked player, 5 and 4. On the flip side, no one will wind up having as disappointing of a tournament as Donald, who was coming off a final-round 78 and a T-56 at the Northern Trust Open in his 2012 PGA Tour debut.


Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Loosest player in the field

Ryo Ishikawa: A.) He's a No. 14 seed. B.) He's 20 years old. C.) Through 13 holes of his first round match against Bill Haas, he was probably planning his meal schedule for his flight back to Japan. But the phenom birdied three of his final five holes to stun Haas, who was coming off his first PGA Tour win at Riviera. Next up, Ishikawa will take on Paul Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champ.

Most-rested player

Tie -- Steve Stricker and Robert Karlsson: These guys get the nod for different reasons. Stricker since he's playing his first golf in more than a month, but showed no signs of rust in a first-round win over Kevin Na. Karlsson because he played the fewest holes on Wednesday, as he took no mercy on fellow Swede Fredrik Jacobson with a 6-and-5 win. Stricker will play Louis Oosthuizen in the second round, while Karlsson will play top seed and former Ryder Cup teammate, Lee Westwood.

Best bracket-busting matchup

No. 10 Mark Wilson vs. No. 15 Robert Rock: Either of these guys winning anything shouldn't be much of a surprise after recent victories (Wilson at the Humana Challenge and Rock taking out Tiger Woods in a final-round pairing at Abu Dhabi), but neither seemed to be given much of a chance to make a splash in this event. Now one of them will make it (at least) to the round of 16.

Most-tired twosome

No. 3 Dustin Johnson vs. No. 11 Franceso Molinari: OK, so neither of these guys actually will be that tired, but both needed 20 holes to dispatch of their first-round opponents -- Jim Furyk (DJ) and Thomas Bjorn (Molinari). For Johnson, just getting to tee it up again is a relief. This is the first time in four tries that's he's advanced past the opening day.

Match you should care more about

No. 3 Charl Schwartzel vs. No. 11 Sang-Moon Bae: It would be tough for a reigning Masters champion to stay more under the radar than Schwartzel, but there's a reason why he's the 11th-ranked player in the world. Bae is even less of a known commodity, but that is starting to change in his rookie season on the PGA Tour. The South Korean, 25, has been ranked as high as No. 26 in the world.

Not you again...

No. 5 Brandt Snedeker vs. No. 13 Kyle Stanley: Not even a month ago, Snedeker beat Stanley in a playoff at Torrey Pines to deny the Clemson product of his first PGA Tour win. For Stanley, it capped a stunning collapse that will be most remembered for a triple bogey on the final hole. Stanley certainly will be looking for a bit of revenge, but he's already proven what kind of mental toughness he has as he bounced back to pick up his maiden victory the following week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

--Alex Myers