The PGA and European Tours’ elite players head to Marana, Arizona this week for the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship, and an exciting five days of match play golf gets underway tomorrow. I will be there on Wednesday along with 64 of the top players in the world rankings as play gets underway at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain. Two considerably more notable names in the golf world will be absent — Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. However the new #2 ranked player in the word Steve Stricker will be there along with other notable names such as Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Geoff Ogilvy and many others who will be looking to be last man standing on Sunday.
Nike Golf is well represented in the field of 64 — here is the list of Nike Golf athletes in the field in order of their current world ranking:
Paul Casey (7)
Stewart Cink (21)
Lucas Glover (22)
Anthony Kim (28)
Charl Schwartzel (37)
Francesco Molinari (46)
Simon Dyson (54)
Justin Leonard (58)
Stephen Ames (63)
From this list of nine athletes I’m choosing six who I think have a chance at bringing home the title and why:
Paul reached the final match last year only to lose to Geoff Ogilvy. After nursing a rib injury for the second half of last year Paul is anxious to get back to his winning ways, and no better place to start than where he left off at last year’s event.
Stewart finished third last year and second in 2008. He gained much confidence last year when he won the Open Championship, and perhaps 2010 is the year he takes home his first World Match Play title.
Anthony has been yearning to get back to the wining form he showed in 2008. His performance on the last two Ryder Cup and President’s Cup teams showed how successful he can be in the match play format.
Charl is off to a fine start in 2010 with two wins and a second place finish on the European Tour. He is currently #1 on the European Tour Order of Merit, and if his continues this week he could walk away with the trophy.
Francesco won the Omega Mission Hills World Cup last year with brother Eduardo, the last event on 2009 European Tour schedule. He had seven top ten finishes in 2009, two of which were second place, and he made the cut in three of the four majors last year. Perhaps this year’s Match Play will be where he gets his first individual title on U.S soil.
Simon won twice on the European Tour in 2009, however this is his first WGC Match Play appearance. He usually plays well in major events, so maybe he can come out of the blocks with a win in his first try.
No matter who is the last man standing on Sunday, it is sure to be an entertaining five days of match play golf. And I think the odds are good that it will be a Nike Golf athlete holding the trophy on Sunday evening.