Tiger Woods has won the WGC Accenture Matchplay Championship three times though, successful at the Gallery Club in Marana in 2008, he’s not triumphed at the championship’s new home in Arizona at the Ritz-Carlton Club. Woods is the general favourite (11/1 with Boylesports) this week and did win the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines last month. But, as we saw in last year’s Ryder Cup, perhaps matchplay is no longer his strong point and it’s hard to overlook the recent record of the Europeans in this first WGC event of 2013, in particular the English contingent.
Paul Casey was runner-up in 2009 and 2010 but hasn’t qualified this year. However, 2011 winner Luke Donald is a 16/1 chance with bet365 and Boylesports and has to come into the reckoning. He was making his first appearance on the US Tour at in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera last week and played well for 54 holes. That will have got the juices flowing again and the third seed should ease past Marcel Siem in the first round. Rory McIlroy is 64/5 on Betfair and will face Irishman Shane Lowery in the opening round following the withdrawal of Fredrick Jacobsen and Brendt Snedeker. McIlroy lost 2 & 1 in a close-fight final last year with Hunter Mahan and will be aiming to go one better. Mahan himself is 28/1 with Coral.
These desert events are fraught with danger, and I don’t just mean the wildlife, as a wayward tee-shot is rarely recoverable so you want someone who is capable of keeping things on the straight and narrow and put away birdie chances when they arise. I like the look of Ian Poulter at bet365’s 22/1. He won this in 2010 and has also reached the last four on two other occasions. Admittedly, the Florida-based 37-year-old has crashed out at an early stage in the last two years but he is a force to be reckoned with when in the mood and surprisingly popular in the States given he gives no quarter in the Ryder Cup.
Charl Schwartzel arrives in form and is 20/1 with bet365 while Sergio Garcia will kick-off proceedings on the first tee against Thongchai Jaidee and is available at 33/1 in most places. Looking at the draw, it may turn out that Dustin Johnson will prove the best of the home team at the general 33/1 but I wouldn’t be tempted by any of the big outsiders as the prize money usually encourages one of the big guns to turn it on in Arizona.