Published February 18, 2013
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – The 15th annual WGC - Accenture Match Play kicks off on Wednesday in Arizona and the two top seeds will have a hard time making it to the finals.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy is the top seed in the tournament, but has six major champions in his bracket.
Tiger Woods, the world No. 2, has two former major champions and the tournament's reigning champ in his portion of the bracket.
Luke Donald has two major winners and three past winners of this tournament in the Sam Snead region with him. Donald won this crown in 2011.
The final top seed is former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. The South African has two past major winners in his side of the bracket, along with a pair of golfers that had big 2012 seasons.
One would think the brackets would be evenly separated with 64 of the top players in the world in the field, but McIlroy and Woods seem to have the harder regions to make it through.
McIlroy has three former Masters champions in the bottom portion of his bracket, while the best match in the top half of his bracket is a battle of Irishman, as fifth-seed Graeme McDowell takes on 12th-seeded Padraig Harrington.
The winner of that will likely face Dustin Johnson, while McIlroy will battle either Rickie Fowler or Carl Pettersson if he gets through his first round match.
If McIlroy can reach the quarterfinals, among those he could face would be Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel or Zach Johnson, all former Masters winners. If they don't advance, former U.S. Open winner Jim Furyk could stand in McIlroy's way if Furyk can get by Ryan Moore in round one.
And that won't be an easy task, as Moore has three USGA championships to his credit, and all three had six rounds of match play.
Woods faces one of his closest friends on the PGA Tour, Charles Howell III, in the first round. If Woods moves on, he could face Francesco Molinari, who halved Woods in the final match of the 2012 Ryder Cup, in round two.
Also in Woods' bracket are four former European Ryder Cup players along with Hunter Mahan, Jason Dufner and reigning U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson, who all played with Woods on the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2012.
Donald's region is no piece of cake either as he has six former Ryder Cuppers and two past International Presidents Cup players in his bracket. Former winners of this event, Steve Stricker and Henrik Stenson, will face each other in the first round.
Ian Poulter, the 2010 champ, went 4-0 at the Ryder Cup last year to raise his record to 12-3 in that event. Poulter's half of the bracket has Adam Scott and Tim Clark, two past Presidents Cup players for the International side.
Oosthuizen has major champions Keegan Bradley and Ernie Els in his half of the bracket, along with Branden Grace, who won four times on the European Tour last year.
The bottom half of that region includes Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Bill Haas and Matt Kuchar. Garcia owns a healthy 16-8-4 record in the Ryder Cup, but has made it past the third round just once at this event.
As you can see, each of the top seeds has their battles to make it through to the final four. If pressed, I'd take the winner of the McDowell/Harrington match to make the finals against either Jason Dufner or Ian Poulter.
STEADY SHIN WINS AGAIN
Jiyai Shin picked up her 11th LPGA tour title on Sunday, and that total includes three major championships.
The 24-year-old is far from the biggest name on the LPGA Tour, but only six active players have more wins than her.
Shin won the Kingsmill Championship last year, and followed that up with a victory at the Women's British Open the following week. That was Shin's second Women's British title.
Her victory over the weekend came against the top-ranked player in the women's game, Yani Tseng, and the hottest amateur golfer in decades, Lydia Ko.
Tseng closed with a 7-under 66 to finish two back, while Ko shared the lead with Shin heading into the final round. The 15-year-old Ko was coming off a win the week before, and was searching for her fourth victory in a professional event, in just 13 starts.
The amateur stumbled early in the final round, but fought back to tie Shin for the lead with six holes to play. However, it was Shin that took over.
Shin chipped in for birdie on No. 14 and watched as Ko faltered to a bogey on the same hole to slide two back. Shin also birdied the 15th, and cruised to three straight pars to close out the title.
The understated Shin collected the earliest win into a season of her career, and that bodes well for a big season.
* Brandt Snedeker (ribs) and Phil Mickelson (family vacation) are skipping the Match Play event. That paved the way for Shane Lowry and Fredrik Jacobson to get into the field.
* The Web.com Tour kicks off this week. With no PGA event being played opposite the Match Play Championship, the field has numerous former PGA Tour players competing, including three former major champions -- Rich Beem, Todd Hamilton and Shaun Micheel.