LOS ANGELES (AP) — All 64 players who qualified for the Accenture Match Play Championship met the entry deadline Friday, meaning Tiger Woods likely will face Brendan Jones of Australia when he returns to competition for the first time in more than eight months.
The brackets will not be final until Sunday evening.
If anyone withdraws before then – Justin Rose is the only question mark because his wife is expecting their first child – the brackets would be redone and Woods would face the first alternate, Richard Green of Australia.
Either way, it’s not the greatest omen for the world’s No. 1 player.
Three of his six losses in the Accenture Match Play Championship have come against Aussies, two of those to Nick O’Hern in the second round in 2005 and 2007. The other was a first-round loss to Peter O’Malley in 2002.
“I don’t doubt his game will be ready,” Stuart Appleby said Thursday. “Unless he plays an Aussie.”
He laughed when told that Woods was expected to face Jones, who played one year on the PGA Tour and finished 144th on the money list. Jones has played most of his career in Japan, where he has won eight times.
Woods is 5-3 against Australians at the Match Play, beating Stephen Leaney twice, Adam Scott, Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley.
As the No. 1 player, Woods will have the top seed.
The other top seeds are Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington and Vijay Singh, who has missed the cut in his last two events since returning from minor knee surgery in January.
Garcia would face Charl Schwartzel, while Harrington would play Pat Perez and Singh would take on Soren Kjeldsen. If Woods were to win his opening match, his next opponent could be the winner between Tim Clark and Retief Goosen.
A Woods-Goosen match might be interesting based on the South African’s comments last year. A few days after Woods won the U.S. Open, where he winced and limped throughout the weekend in what turned out to be a dramatic playoff victory, Goosen questioned the seriousness of the injury.
“Nobody really knows if he was just showing off or he was really injured,” Goosen said on the day before Woods announced he was having season-ending knee surgery. “I believe if he was really injured, he would not have played.”
Goosen later said he was only joking.
What has Britain atwitter is the possibility of Woods’ match against 19-year-old Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland in the third round, if they both win their matches – and if the brackets are not changed.
Among the more intriguing first-round matches is Phil Mickelson against Angel Cabrera. The big Argentine won the U.S. Open in 2007 at Oakmont, where Mickelson missed the cut on the 10-shot rule when Cabrera birdied his final hole of the second round.
If a player withdraws after Sunday night, the alternate would take his spot in the bracket.