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WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship: Day 3 primer

February 23, 2012

Those complaining about Tiger Woods getting too much TV time on GolfChannel's coverage of the WGC-Accenture World Match Play will get their wish: a Tiger-free Friday. Woods' loss to Nick Watney was certainly the main storyline on Day 2, but without the 14-time major champion in the field anymore, who will make the headlines on Day 3? Here are some thoughts.

Match you should pay more attention to

No. 10 John Senden vs. No. 11 Sang-Moon Bae: We were high on Bae coming into 2012 and we like him even more after his 1-up win over reigning Masters champion Charl Schwartzel. What has Senden done? The Aussie has only been the most dominant player in the field the first two days, including a surprising 6-and-5 rout of fellow countryman Jason Day. Don't look at their seeds. Either of these guys could wind up playing Sunday afternoon.


Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Battle of Scotland

No. 10 Martin Laird vs. No. 11 Paul Lawrie: Remember when Lawrie won the British Open? If not, you'll undoubtedly remember when Jean Van de Velde lost the claret jug. Since that unlikely victory in 1999, the Scotsman has won a total of four events on the European Tour, including just two in the past decade. But one of those -- a four-shot win over Jason Day and Peter Hanson -- came earlier this month at the Qatar Masters. The 43-year old clearly has carried that momentum over into his first appearance in this event since 2003. Next up, he'll take on fellow countryman Martin Laird.

Butch Harmon 2, Tiger Woods 0

Nick Watney became the second student of Woods' former swing coach to beat the 14-time major in the past three weeks. His defeat of Woods wasn't as lopsided as Phil Mickelson's performance at Pebble Beach, but it was just as telling. For whatever reason, Woods is still missing the magic that he seemingly used to be able to conjure up for clutch putts. Watney will take on top-seeded Lee Westwood in one of the day's marquee matches.

Guess the Ryder Cup is behind him...

Hunter Mahan: Many wondered about Mahan's match-play mettle following his infamous chunked chip against Graeme McDowell in a match that decided the 2010 Ryder Cup. But since then, Mahan has been solid in this format. He made it to the round of 16 in this event for the first time last year and then went 4-1 in the Presidents Cup, including easily winning his singles match against Jason Day. After dispatching Zach Johnson and Y.E. Yang, he'll take on No. 2 Steve Stricker.

All he does is win

Mark Wilson: At least in the last 14 months that's how it seems. Wilson has three wins in that span, which is tied for the most. Already a winner in 2012, Wilson kept rolling with a second-round dusting of Robert Rock. Next, he'll take on third-seeded Dustin Johnson, who is coming off an easy win of his own over Francesco Molinari.

The 12th time's the charm...

Lee Westwood: Amazingly, Westy had never made it out of the second round at this event in 11 tries. He put an end to that streak in convincing fashion, going 5 up before beating former Ryder Cup teammate Robert Karlsson, 3 and 2. He'll try to advance past Day 3 for the first time when he takes on Watney.

To the birthday boy, go the spoils

Steve Stricker: Celebrating his 45th birthday, Stricker made it one of his most exciting with a closing birdie on No. 18 to top Louis Oosthuizen, 1 up. Hopefully, he didn't stay out too later partying after. Who are we kidding? It's Steve Stricker.

--Alex Myers