Two Australians are in the 64-man Accenture Match Play field this week and face difficult first round opponents.
Thanks largely to Adam Scott’s 2013 Masters victory, it feels a lot like we’re beginning a golden age of Australian golf – but if you are going by the number of Australians in the field for this week’s WGC Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona, you may think otherwise.
Just two Australians, Marc Leishman and Jason Day, will line-up in the 64-man field with the world’s best players to play head-to-head, elimination match play – in the same format that tennis tournaments are managed.
Players qualify for the prestigious event by being in “the top 64 available players from the Official World Golf Ranking, as of the Monday one week prior to the week of the tournament.”
Adam Scott, along with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have chosen to skip the event in favour of preparing for the Masters in six weeks time. This has meant that just Day and Leishman will fly the flag for Australia at Dove Mountain Golf Course this week courtesy of their 11 and 63 world rankings.
Interestingly, the next best Australian on the world golf rankings is Brett Rumford at 83 with Brendan Jones in 85th spot.
Australian round 1 matches
Jason Day (WR 11) vs Thorbjorn Olesen (WR 26)
Day is the second seed in the Bobby jones bracket and comes up against 24-year-old Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen. Olesen is our pick for the next rising star from Europe and will be a stern test for Day who has a good record here, reaching the semi-final’s in 2013. Purely based on this experience we’re backing Day to win this match but Olesen is a gun and is a dangerous opening match.
Prediction: Day 2up
Sergio Garcia (WR 8) vs Marc Leishman (WR 26)
Leishman arrives at Dove Mountain for the first time and faces a red-hot Sergio Garcia in his opening match. Garcia has nine top-20s in his last nine starts including two victories in his last three starts. Leishman played some great match play golf at the Presidents Cup last year, but Garcia’s best finish at the Match Play Championship was a semi-final appearance in 2009 and will be tough to beat in his current form.
Prediction: Garcia 1up