Golf: Players prepare for the lottery of Match Play

Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:28pm EST
 
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

MARANA, Arizona (Reuters) - For the players, the self-directed questions can be endless as they steel themselves for the sheer lottery of the one-on-one format in this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at Dove Mountain.

How many days will they last? Will their golf be good enough to win in Wednesday's opening round? Can they still advance after a slightly off-day? Will the putts drop at the right time?

"When I was packing my bags the other night, I'm thinking, 'How many shirts did I bring? How many pairs of pants?' This is always a fun event," world number one Rory McIlroy told reporters on a sunny, breezy day at Dove Mountain on Tuesday.

"It's one of those weeks where you've just got to try and get through every round, and you face different opposition every day. I'm looking forward to it. I love the golf course here.

"It's a great course for match play. You can be really aggressive and make a lot of birdies," added Northern Ireland's McIlroy, who has been drawn to play Irishman Shane Lowry in Wednesday's opening round.

Matchplay is much more unpredictable than strokeplay and because of the extraordinary depth in the global game, anyone in this week's elite 64-man field is capable of winning the title.

"There are no weak players in this tournament and no easy matches," said Britain's former world number one Lee Westwood, who did not reach the third round in his first 11 appearances at the event before getting to the semi-finals last year.

"Very rarely do you get given one (a win) in this, and that's the idea for tomorrow, just to try and turn up and play well. Hopefully it's good enough.   Continued...

 
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his tee shot on the 10th hole during a practice round for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship golf tournament in Marana, Arizona February 19, 2013. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan