Golf is tough enough to handicap. Match play is brutally impossible. Still, we soldier on. 64 men enter the cage, one exits. The vagaries are numerous. One bad hole doesn't eliminate anyone the way a multi-stroke deficit could crumble lesser opposition. A couple of lucky or bad bounces at the right or wrong time could be curtains and a weekend off.
One day, one round with or against a hot putter could seal fate. That's the beauty of the deal and why we watch. The biggest risk of all this year, as always, is for the network covering the event. NBC wags will be holding their collective breaths for the first three rounds of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship praying for weekend pairings of players with gravitas. I'm thinkin' Brendan Jones and Richard Green aren't at the top of the wish list.
As usual we'll list some Ladbrokes odds for the favorites and make some particularly insightful picks. They offer individual match odds as well as odds to win the whole shebang. I stress again though, this is a flat out crap shoot. Any success is coincidental and appreciated. Download Your Blank Bracket
Here we go...
Phil Mickelson, 14/1 - This ain't Phil's cup of tea. Should get by Brendan Jones, then ??? Home by Friday.
Tiger Woods, 14/1 - John Cook says he's found it at home. He's not home. Tough bracket with Casey, Watson, D. Johnson Ogilvy, etc. Home on Friday.
Paul Casey, 16/1 - My pick to take it all. Good match player. Playing well. That's the list.
Lee Westwood, 16/1 - Tons of match play experience. World #1. Slow start to 2011. Can't get by Casey.
Martin Kaymer, 16/1 - Hard to argue. Putting wins these things, especially par savers. Could win.
Rory McIlroy, 16/1 - 1st time in states in 2011. Has the game. Possible.
Steve Stricker, 25/1 - Won 9 years ago. Not much since in this event. Would take a lot.
Luke Donald, 25/1 - Can't get by the 3rd round here. Don't see the streak ending.
Dustin Johnson, 25/1 - Blow up hole wouldn't kill. Need a steely putter late in the rounds. Doubt it.
Graeme McDowell, 25/1 - Tough guy to against in format. I like him after Casey.
Rickie Fowler, 33/1 - Virgin appearance here. May do well, don't expect win.
Matt Kuchar, 33/1 - Probably not his best format. Home by Thursday.
Geoff Ogilvy, 33/1 - Big odds for two time winner. Finger OK. Will make noise.
Retief Goosen, 33/1 - I can never get a handle on Goose since US Opens. Flip a coin.
Hunter Mahan, 33/1 - I keep waiting for the break out. Still waiting.
Jim Furyk, 33/1 - As we know, fierce. Strangely mediocre at match play. Don't think so.
Ian Poulter, 33/1 - Huge odds for a defender. Better than he looks. Should make the weekend.
Ernie Els, 33/1 - The "Big Easy I Don't Know". Must be a South African thing. Semis here in '01. Nothing since. No reason to expect differently.
Average Golfer Pick
Paul Casey over Graeme McDowell
Keep your eyes on.... Stenson, (previous champ, late fill-in for Taniguchi), Poulter, Rose, Watney, and Overton, (birdie machine, always helps in match play).
Bet early and often. Register pick complaints with Complaint Department, (Open Weds., Mar 23, 4:00-4:10 AM).