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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Match Play Day 1 Fun

In typical Accenture style we saw quite a few surprises on Wednesday. I thought I'd highlight a few (in case you missed them) and update my picks since, like everybody else, my brackets got messed up!

First, Wednesday saw the largest number of "upsets" -- that is, a lower seed beating a higher seed -- since 1999. That year there were 18; 2012 gave us 15. The biggest of these was #64 Ernie Els beating #1 Luke Donald  although, as Nick Faldo pointed out, it wasn't so much that Donald got beat as by how much. A 5&4 loss is just huge.

Among my picks, K.J. Choi -- who I expected to win the whole thing -- got bounced by Kyle Stanley. No offense to Stanley, but I was shocked by that. It was only a 2&1 victory, but still... Anyway, I need to pick a new guy from that bracket to go to the final 4.

Both Choi and Donald were in the Jones bracket, and I must admit I wasn't very impressed by anybody there. Els was putting really well the first round, and I'm not sure we can count on that going forward. I'm picking Brandt Snedeker as my replacement from this bracket, primarily because of his gutty performance to beat Retief Goosen in 21 holes.

Also out is Sergio Garcia, my pick from the Player bracket. If you follow my blog you know I'm a huge Miguel Angel Jimenez fan, but I didn't expect him to win because he hasn't done much in the last 6 months or so while Sergio has won twice and played well so far this season. Today MAJ will face Keegan Bradley, who played the best of anybody on Wednesday. I'll take whoever wins that match as my player from Player, although I'll say upfront I think Bradley will win. I picked him as a player to watch this year, and he's certainly proving me right so far.

McIlroy made it through the first round in this bracket -- more than I expected after his press conference, to be honest -- but he played very unevenly. I still don't expect him to make the final 4.

My other two bracket picks lived another day -- Tiger won his match in the Snead bracket despite some uneven play, and Kaymer's still alive in Hogan. My new guy to win it all is Kaymer since he's one of my surviving original choices AND he lost only 1 hole during his match while posting 4 birdies and no bogeys.

In other news:
  • We lost 2 Golf Boys. (I hear the sobs all the way here in North Carolina.) It appears that Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan are now an endangered species. After seeing some of their new Ping commercials together, that might not be a bad thing...
  • Dustin Johnson got his first win on his fourth try.
  • Ryo Ishikawa got his first win as well, taking out Bill Haas. Japan's sole entry will see another match!
  • Scotland had only 2 entrants, Martin Laird and Paul Lawrie. They both survived as well.
  • If MAJ is the oldest in the field, both the oldest and youngest -- Matteo Manassero -- survived.
  • Robert Rock took out Adam Scott, which was probably the 2nd biggest upset of the day.
  • Finally, both Y.E. Yang and Lee Westwood are still alive. This ties Westwood's best finish ever and could be bad news for the rest of the field. Of course we all know what Yang is capable of.
And don't forget that the LPGA is playing the HSBC Women's Champions event in Singapore. It starts at 9:30am ET on GC and runs for 4 hours before Accenture coverage starts. As I'm writing this, Na Yeon Choi is leading at -5 after 12 holes.

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