By Gary Van Sickle
Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Here are my predictions for select first-round matches Wednesday. For those of you at home and at work, please, no wagering. All times are Eastern. (Leaderboard: Scores and schedule | Printable bracket)

Tiger Woods vs. Brendan Jones 2:02 p.m.
This is the middle of the offseason for Jones. Tiger's short game appears to be in immaculate condition. Forget the eight-month break. Exactly who is going to beat Woods this week?\n

Camilo Villegas vs. Rod Pampling 10:14 a.m.
The quiet Pampling is a solid ballstriker who goes unnoticed. He might get noticed by winning this match.\n

Mike Weir vs. Hunter Mahan 12:55 p.m.
These guys are almost mirror images — good iron players, good putters, gritty. Go Canada. My pick is Weir.

Tim Clark vs. Retief Goosen 2:11 p.m.
It appears that prescription sunglasses and a belly putter have revived the Goose's dormant putting stroke. This could be the start of something.\n

Geoff Ogilvy vs. Kevin Sutherland 11:30 a.m.
Ogilvy has already won once this year, and he's been to the Match Play final before. He's the odds-on favorite, but Sutherland is sneaky good. This one goes extra holes, and Ogilvy wins.\n

Robert Karlsson vs. Peter Hanson 11:49 a.m.
Karlsson is an underrated player who most Americans don't know, while Hanson is an underrated player that no Americans know. Karlsson wins.\n

Justin Rose vs. Boo Weekley 1:05 p.m.
No Boo jokes here. He's a player. But so is Rose. England rules.

Adam Scott vs. Sean O'Hair 1:14 p.m.
Scott took a pass on Riviera last week, even though he once won there (a rain-shortened version). I'm picking O'Hair just because of Scott's slight.\n

Ian Poulter vs. Jeev Mikha Singh 2:30 p.m.
Poulter, the lone bright spot on the European Ryder Cup team, has match-play confidence. And nice pants.

Alvaros Quiros vs. Stephen Ames 11:58 p.m.
Quiros has been hot in Europe and springs a surprise.\n

Padraig Harrington vs. Pat Perez 1:43 p.m.
Harrington is still looking for his game after three weeks in the U.S. Perez already has a win. Perez moves on.

Henrik Stenson vs. Davis Love III 11:11 p.m.
Stenson won this thing two years ago and plays great on long, desert courses. Love's game has been on the upswing since he won at Disney last November. I think the old fox surprises Stenson.

Justin Leonard vs. Andres Romero 11:20 a.m.
Leonard shouldn't beat Romero's length and streaky play, but he will.

K.J. Choi vs. Oliver Wilson 10:04 a.m.
Ollie was a collegiate star at Augusta State and has one of the best short games on the European tour. Hence, this upset special.\n

Phil Mickelson vs. Angel Cabrera 10:52 a.m.
Man, the guy wins in Los Angeles, and what's he get? A first-round draw against a former U.S. Open champion. This could be quite a match. Go with the hot hand, though — Phil. That six-foot putt he made on the last hole was his most important stroke since Winged Foot.

Lee Westwood vs. Prayad Marksaeng 9:36 a.m.
Westwood is world class, and easier to spell.

Stewart Cink vs. Richard Sterne 9:45 a.m.
Cink made it to the finals last year, which earned him the honor of being pummeled by Tiger. He has a knack for match play and will win this one.

Steve Stricker vs. Dustin Johnson 12:17 p.m.
It's the power of Wisconsin cheese versus sheer power. Johnson can dunk a basketball. Stricker can dunk a cheese curd. Cheese rules.

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