Preview: The Accenture Match Play Championship

The 2012 Accenture Match Play is going to have some juicy matches from the round of 64 on, thanks to the tournament’s seeding.

Luke Donald chips onto the green in the 2011 Accenture Match Play Championship en route to victory.

In the week following an incredible three-way playoff finish at the Northern Trust Open, the PGA will feature a signature event, the Accenture Match Play Championship, beginning Wednesday.

Instead of the typical Thursday through Sunday tournament featuring four rounds, this five-day match play event features a ranking system similar to the NCAA basketball tournament.  Beginning Wednesday, the system will offer a multitude of marquee matches.

In the #1 vs. #64 matchup for instance, defending champion Luke Donald will face off against one of the PGA’s all-time greats in the South African Ernie Els.  But the three-time Major winner will have his hands full with the young Donald, who seems to be at the top of his game and currently occupies the top spot in the world rankings.

The current number two and three players in the world, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood will make their 2012 PGA tour debuts on Wednesday.  McIlroy will face the South African George Coetzee, while Westwood will face Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.  Phil Mickelson will not play in the tournament. 

Americans Dustin Johnson (9) and Jim Furyk (56) will square off.

Johnson is coming off a strong showing in last week’s Northern Trust Open, where he landed in a tie for fourth place.  Spaniards Sergio Garcia (15) and Miguel Angel Jiminez (50) match up in the Player bracket.

Tiger Woods (19) will face Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (46), in the #9 vs. #46 game.  An early win on the PGA tour is precisely what Tiger needs to kick off a comeback season.  Last December he took home the trophy in the Chevron World Challenge, but his play in 2012 has been inconsistent.

Gonzalo stirred the pot earlier this week telling the media Tiger was beatable now that he is not at his best. Tiger was unfazed, and confidently responded,“I feel exactly the same way as he does, I feel he’s beatable, too.”

Among the other highlights are Brant Snedeker (17) vs. Retief Goosen (48), Bubba Watson (20) vs. Ben Crane (45) and David Toms (29) vs. Ricky Fowler (36).  Fowler’s camp have yet to mention how the young star will be able to dress more ridiculously than last season, but the early speculation seems to indicate that he may have a trick or two up his sleeve.

The nature of the one-on-one matchups makes the tournament unpredictable and unlike any other on the Tour.  Coverage of the championship and third place matches will air from 2:00 to 6:00 Sunday afternoon on NBC.

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