Tour and News

Bjorn over Woods not surprising, plus more match play thoughts and picks

Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Tiger Woods, right, lost to Thomas Bjorn in 19 holes.

MARANA, Ariz. — Thoughts on the first day of the World Match Play Championship:

• It was no shocker that Tiger Woods fell to Thomas Bjorn. Woods is a work in progress and Bjorn recently won on the European tour. Tiger's putter was particularly cold, which probably made the difference in the match. But Woods was officially done when he blew his tee shot into desert shrubbery on the first extra hole.

• Adam Scott went to a long-shafted putter and used a claw grip to wield it. He lost, 4 and 2, but at least he's addressing his No. 1 issue.

• Mark Wilson, who has won twice this year, made a clutch putt on the 18th hole to tie his match against Dustin Johnson, then made another one on the first extra hole to win. Guys who make putts don't lose very often. He is going to be difficult to eliminate.

• Lee Westwood joked early in the week about how he'd like to know what it's like to make it to Friday in this tournament. Don't worry, he's going to find out.

• The sleeper pick of the week has to be last-minute addition J.B. Holmes, whose long-ball prowess makes him a threat. If Holmes can somehow get past the savvy vet Ernie Els, he's got a good shot to make the final four.

• Martin Kaymer got a free pass Wednesday. He played the front nine in one over par and was 6 up on Seung-yul Noh.

• The long-range weather forecast here isn't promising. There's talk of Sunday's high temperature being 49 degrees and snow likely above elevations of 2,000 feet. The Ritz-Carlton course is at about 2,400 feet.

Here's a look at some key second-round matchups (All times Eastern):

Rickie Fowler vs. Phil Mickelson. (12:46 p.m.) This is clearly the most attention-getting match of the day and, thanks to Fowler, likely the most colorful. It's the young master vs. the old master. Mickelson played fairly ordinary golf Wednesday but was 4 up through 10 holes with just one birdie. Fowler, my pre-tourney pick to win it all, had four birdies, an eagle and four bogeys — a very Phil-like round, actually. All the talk about torches being passed? One gets passed here. Pick: Fowler

Lee Westwood vs. Nick Watney. (1:34 p.m.) Somehow, the No. 1 player in the world managed to nearly finish his round before Golf Channel bothered to show him. A lack of respect is nothing new for Lee. Watney drubbed Anthony Kim, who's been battling an illness. Pick: Westwood

Graeme McDowell vs. Ross Fisher. (11:10 a.m.) These guys are pretty good friends. Fisher is an underrated talent, just like McDowell was before he won the U.S. Open and became a Ryder Cup legend. McDowell played terrifically at times Wednesday, holing out a bunker shot on one hole. Pick: McDowell

Stewart Cink vs. Y.E. Yang. (11:22 a.m.) Cink didn't play his best early, but he made enough clutch putts to outlast defending champion Ian Poulter. It's a tossup, but give the edge to Cink, whose putter appears to have finally warmed up. Pick: Cink

Luke Donald vs. Edoardo Molinari. (12:10 p.m.) Donald crushed his opening foe, Charley Hoffman, 6 and 5. Molinari was impressive in his win over Martin Laird, making seven birdies. Donald has the experience but Molinari is hotter. Pick: Molinari

Ernie Els vs. J.B. Holmes. (11:46 a.m.) Fortunately for Els, Jeff Overton self-destructed after winning the opening three holes. Els made only one birdie and three bogeys, but he was able to advance. Holmes, the last man in the field when Tim Clark was a late withdrawal, played pretty solidly and was four under par. He's been playing well of late, having contended at Riviera. Pick: Holmes

Thomas Bjorn vs. Geoff Ogilvy. (1:10 p.m.) The players who knock off Tiger Woods in this tournament usually don't advance very far, which may be a coincidence or may be tied to how much emotion it takes to defeat Woods. Ogilvy has won this event twice and has a 19-3 record in matches here. He owns this place. Pick: Ogilvy

Rory McIlroy vs. Ben Crane. (12:22 p.m.) It's tough to beat a good putter in match play, and Crane ranks among the PGA Tour's best in that category. McIlroy had a bit of a sloppy round, with three birdies and three bogeys. Rory will be favored but Crane will surprise him. Pick: Crane

Mark Wilson vs. Bubba Watson. (1:22 p.m.) This isn't the Master Blaster showdown that a lot of people had hoped for after Wilson eliminated big-hitting Dustin Johnson on the first extra hole. Watson played well, making seven birdies on a course that suits big hitters, but Wilson has already won twice this year. The pesky Wilson will take him down. Pick: Wilson

Paul Casey vs. Jason Day. (11:34 a.m.) Casey is another player who thrives on desert courses that favor the long ball. Day made six birdies, however, and is a strong player himself. If this is the year when the young guns finally take over, that means Day carries this day. Pick: Day

Martin Kaymer vs. Justin Rose. (1:58 p.m.) Zach Johnson took Rose to the bitter end on the 18th green before losing a tough match. Rose didn't play his best, making just two birdies. Kaymer continues to look and sound like the best player in the world. Pick: Kaymer

Other predicted winners: Ryan Moore over K.J. Choi; Charl Schwartzel over Matteo Manassero; Matt Kuchar over Bo Van Pelt; Ryan Palmer over Miguel Angel Jimenez; and Hunter Mahan over Robert Karlsson.

More From the Web

More Tour and News