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Accenture Match Play Predictions

Professional Caddy Mark Huber's Predictions

Posted Feb 25, 2011 by Mark's Kaddy Korner

Match Play Predictions

Match play is a different breed, takes a special character to survive five days of head-to-head competition, just take a look at who one last year, Ian Poulter one of the game’s great characters. Stroke play is a steady grind, match play is constantly ebbing never flowing and your emotions take a beating. A steady tee to green game can be destroyed by a swashbuckler who throws around as many bogeys as pars. One well placed birdie or two can win a match play event while you’re on the way to shooting 75 and your opponent is grinding out a smooth 70.

Ever watch a player’s head after he’s driven it down the middle, knocked it on the green twenty feet from the hole for a sure par and his opponent escapes from the thick woods to the rough surrounding the green and chips in for birdie. The head drops like a guillotine, a couple of Seve birdies can kill the most seasoned pro.

There are no style points in golf and definitely none in match play golf. A double counts the same as par if your adversary makes birdie. Gamblers and go-for-broke players in the lower bracket seeds provide a lot of excitement during match play and may upset the higher seeds occasionally. Day in day out Tiger is going to kick Thomas Bjorn’s butt, not so this week. That one day match is on much leveler ground and I’m picking Bjorn in an upset.

Stewart Cink hasn’t been playing well since winning the British Open; he’s booted Butch Harmon out of his stable, but watch out for the Twitter king this week. His record in Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup is makes him a very formidable match player even when his game is askew. He understands the peaks and valleys of match play, knows when to hold‘em and fold‘em and when to apply the pressure during a round. Stewart will be one of the final four after Saturday; I’m just not sure who will be number one.

I think I saw Geoff Ogilvy at an eight seed against Padraig Harrington, this match, along with the Dustin Johnson vs. Mark Wilson joust should be the most interesting first day matches. Watch for Geoff sneaking into the final four after Tiger is upset and wouldn’t it be surreal if the short knocker Wilson knocked out the bomber, Johnson. This match provides PGA Tour polar opposites and if their caddies (both have had well published two shot penalties added to their boss’ scorecards) caddy like they know how the TV audience will get that rare look at how golf is played on totally different levels.

Phil’s heart doesn’t seem to be in this tournament, watch for anyone to come out of the Ben Hogan bracket with Rickie Fowler and Stewart Cink the likely candidates. It’s going to be a melee in the lower left corner but those two should meet on Saturday. Martin Kaymer looks like he has a cakewalk in the Gary Player corner but you never know what Jim Furyk may pull off. He’s so steady and can make a bucket load of birdies if he’s on.

I can’t possibly pick a winner but here’s my final four with a couple of JICs (Just In Cases).

Ben Hogan – Stewart Cink, possibly Rickie Fowler

Bobby Jones – Steve Stricker or Retief Goosen, Lee Westwood isn’t ready to play.

Sam Snead – I really like Geoff Ogilvy for some reason

Gary Player – Martin Kaymer has a cakewalk if he’s ready for dessert in the desert. (sorry for all that)

Match play is an exciting reprieve from the stroke play doldrums, it’s just not much for the TV ratings but I’ll be watching as much as possible. You see the miraculous and the mundane winning holes. Each day is a new tournament with a new sleeper and a new favorite. You wipe the slate clean after you send your opponent home and you have to be on top of your game every eighteen to win this event. You can’t coast unless you’ve got your guy down five or six at the turn which doesn’t happen often, these guys are so evenly matched.

 Most every pairing could be a pick’em, that’s what makes match play so great.

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