MARANA, Ariz. — Tiger’s out, but plenty of big names remain at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Here’s how I see Friday’s matches unfolding. (All times are Eastern.)
BEN HOGAN BRACKET
Luke Donald (9) vs. Ernie Els (4) 12:45 p.m.
Donald has been his old steady self this season, and Ernie was in vintage form on Thursday with six birdies and no bogeys. The old Ernie is better than the old Donald. Ernie advances.
Phil Mickelson (2) vs. Stewart Cink (6) 12:58 p.m.
With Tiger out, there’s light at the end of the tunnel for both of these guys, who have had to fight to make it this far. Cink, who was pummeled by Woods in last year’s final, went 23 holes to beat Lee Westwood on Thursday. Phil has survived two not-so-good finishes, but his game appears to be on the upswing, and he’s working hard on the range with coach Butch Harmon. With Tiger gone, this could be Phil’s week after all.
SAM SNEAD BRACKET
Ross Fisher (9) vs. Jim Furyk (4) 1:11 p.m.
Pat Perez received one of the day’s biggest whippings when Fisher dropped four birdies and an eagle on him in just 13 holes. Fisher is on a roll, but I’ll still take Furyk in round three. He could win a tough-man contest.
Justin Leonard (7) vs. Oliver Wilson (11) 1:24 p.m.
How do you dismiss an eight-birdie round like Wilson’s on Thursday? You don’t. But you also don’t expect it to happen again the next day. Wilson is my official sleeper pick this week, and he may be the most underrated player in the world. Leonard defeated Davis Love despite not making a birdie on the back nine. Wilson seems to have the hot hand.
GARY PLAYER BRACKET
Ian Poulter (8) vs. Sean O’Hair (12) 2:03 p.m.
The match between O’Hair and Boo Weekley was a real pillow fight — they were a combined six over on the front nine. Poulter played well in the first round but struggled to edge out Charl Schwartzel. He’s still got better slacks. Poulter moves on.
Peter Hanson (15) vs. Paul Casey (6) 2:15 p.m.
The sweet 16 always has at least one big surprise, and this year it’s the Swede, Hanson. Casey was at this course two weeks ago to acquire some local knowledge in a round with Geoff Ogilvy, so he’s got that on his side. Plus, he’s used to desert golf since he lives in the Phoenix area. I still like Casey for the final four.
BOBBY JONES BRACKET
Tim Clark (8) vs. Rory McIlroy (4) 1:37 p.m.
One last bit of applause for Clark’s stellar performance in ousting Tiger. At the risk of sounding callous, beating Woods has to take a lot out of you. Clark is the more experienced player, but how does he avoid a letdown after conquering Woods? He doesn’t. Young Rory, the pride of Northern Ireland’s Holywood, steps closer to a big stage.
Geoff Ogilvy (2) vs. Camilo Villegas (3) 1:50 p.m.
Ogilvy was fortunate to survive a scrape with Shingo Katayama that went 19 holes. Villegas crushed Miguel Angel Jimenez and appears to be playing as well as he was when he finished last season with back-to-back wins. Ogilvy is a desert fox, but Villegas covers him with birdies and wins.