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Accenture Match Play Championship

   by Matt Fargo - 02/18/2014

After an exciting finish at the Northern Trust Open, the PGA Tour heads to Arizona for the WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship from The Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana. This is a field of the top 64 players in the world that play until one winner remains and with it being the only match play event of the season on the PGA Tour, it definitely gets some added attention. However, three of the top four players in the world are not playing this week; Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson.

The WGC Match Play starts a day earlier to accommodate the six rounds and concludes with a 36-hole final match on Sunday. Unlike the NCAA Tournament where the higher seeds normally advance, anything can happen here and while rankings are still important, they are not to be taken too much into consideration. In the 15 years of this event, a number one seed has won it only three times and that of course was Tigers Woods, the only player to win this event three times.

There are plenty of upsets throughout but for the most part, a low seed usually takes home the prize. In four of the last six years, a number three seed or better has won the event and in the 15 years, 12 winners have come from a number six seed or better including seven of the last 10 years where a number four seed or better won. Each of the past two years has featured 15 first-round upsets which is the most in any year since 18 took place during the debut in 1999.

Taking a look at last year, number six seed Matt Kuchar defeated defending champion Hunter Mahan 2&1. In the first round, as mentioned, 15 of the 32 matches saw the higher seed pull off the upset including 16th seeds Shane Lowry and Charles Howell III defeating number one seeds Rory McIlroy and Tiger Wood respectively. The other number one seeds Louis Oosthuizen and Luke Donald narrowly escaped their first round matches and both went down in the second round.

Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and Zach Johnson are the number one seeds this year. McIlroy is the favorite to win at +1,200 with Stenson at +2,000, Rose at +2,500 and Johnson at +2,800. Of the other top favorites, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson at both at +1,300 while first timer Jordan Spieth is +1,800. Number 16 seed in the Hogan Bracket, Boo Weekley, takes on McIlroy and he is the biggest longshot on the board as he can be found at +25,000 in several outlets.

There are 19 first time participants in the field this week with three matches pitting rookie against rookie. Of those 19 rookies, 13 are double-digit seeds while Jordan Spieth is the highest ranked first timer, the number three seed in the Player Bracket. Stenson is the only number one seed that is facing a rookie, Kiradech Aphibarnrat while Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia, two of the four number two seeds are also facing first time participants.

There will be five tournament picks, with at least one from each bracket. These are overall tournament picks, not just winning their respective brackets. Additionally, matchup winners will be provided each day.

Jason Day +1,300

We are catching some short odds on Day but this could finally be his time. He made a great run here last year before losing to eventual champion Matt Kuchar in the semifinals. He then defeated Ian Poulter 1 up in the consolation match. He has a pretty easy road to the Jones Bracket final match.

Webb Simpson +2,500

Simpson has been very consistent with 17 straight made cuts on tour and that includes 12 top 25 finishes. He is coming off a T70 last week at Riviera but that is not an issue. The match play is a different animal but one that he has tamed as he made it to the final eight last year before losing to Hunter Mahan 1 up.

Ian Poulter +3,000

I think Poulter has the best value odds on the board as he is considered one of the best in match play in the world. He won the 2010 WGC-Accenture Match Play and the 2011 Volvo Match Play on the European Tour. He has a 22-11 record here including a couple fourth place finishes to go along with his win.

Graeme McDowell +3,000

McDowell is another great player at match play as he was runner-up to Nicolas Colsaerts in the 2012 Volvo Match Play before coming back to win it in 2013. He has advanced to at least the round of 16 in two of his past three starts here and last year he won three matches before losing to Jason Day 1 up in the fourth round.

Ryan Moore +4,000

Moore is a seventh seed so that is a longshot in this event but he has had match play success in the past as an amateur and made it to the final eight back in 2011. He has to get past Kuchar and Spieth but it is clear sailing after that and his odds have a lot of value based on the tough bracket. T6 at Phoenix after winning the CIMB Classic.

Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship - All for 1 Unit

Jason Day +1,300

Webb Simpson +2,500

Ian Poulter +3,000

Ryan Moore +4,000

Graeme McDowell +3,000

Listed are nine First Round Matchup Best Bets (all for 2 Units):

Jones Bracket

Louis Oosthuizen -110 over Nick Watney

Oosthuizen was a number one seed a year ago so that alone gives us good odds here since he is now an eight-seed. He won in January so his seeding slip isn't because he is playing bad. Watney has had success here but he is not playing good at the moment with zero top 25 finishes in six starts.

David Lynn +145 over Brandt Snedeker

We played Lynn last year and he was smacked by Webb Simpson. That will only help him here and he gets a much better draw this year. Snedeker is playing poorly with his best finish being a T58 in his last four starts including two cuts. He doesn't look like he is back to 100 percent from his injury.

George Coetzee +125 over Steve Stricker

Stricker is solid in this format but he has not made a start since the TOUR Championship in September and you have to question his mental state with his brother just having gone through a liver transplant. Coetzee qualified for the competition with his win last week at the Joburg Open in South Africa.

Hogan Bracket

Chris Kirk +110 over Jim Furyk

Furyk has had a decent start to the season with a T23 last week and a T35 at the AT&T. His match play record is not good as he has made it out of the first round only once in his last nine starts here and his poor 9-17-4 Ryder Cup record only adds to it. Kirk is making his debut here but has been solid this year with a win and a runner up.

Miguel Angel Jimenez +140 over Bill Haas

Jimenez is a veteran who has had a lot of success in match play here as he has made the final eight in three of the last four years (didn't play last year). He won in Hong Kong in January. Haas has been here three times in the past and has yet to make it out of the first round including a 5&4 loss to Nicolas Colsaerts last year.

Player Bracket

Ernie Els -105 over Stephen Gallacher

Els has not been able to advance very far here but he has lost in the first round only once and while it was last year, it was a 1 up loss to Fredrik Jacobson who made it to the third round. Gallacher won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic for the second straight year but it didn't help him last year as he lost to Ian Poulter.

Matteo Manassero +150 over Luke Donald

Donald is a past winner here and his match play record is solid but he has not been playing well and these odds look to be based on the past and not the present. Manassero has won a European Tour event in each of the last four years and has won at least one match in two of three starts here. Lost to Mahan last year.

Snead Bracket

Peter Hanson +160 over Dustin Johnson

We are going with two big upsets in the Snead Bracket. Johnson has been red hot with two straight runner up finishes but this format is not made for him as he has lost in the first round in four of five starts. Hanson won his first round match last year, made it to the quarterfinals two years ago and the Round of 16 in 2009.

Mikko Ilonen +180 over Bubba Watson

Watson is coming off a win last week thanks to an unbelievable weekend with a 64-64. While it could provide momentum, being his first win since 2012, I think it is letdown time instead. Ilonen is making his debut but is playing excellent with a solo second in Qatar and a T5 in Dubai.

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