On Tap This Week: 2/20/12

WGC Accenture Match Play Championship
3-time Match Play Champ Tiger Woods (Getty Images)

If you fancy yourself a golf fan, this week should have you all pumped up. This week is about one thing, the Accenture Match Play Championship. If the majors are the gold standard of golf tournaments, World Golf Championship events are a close silver. They attract the best talent from around the world and the intriguing storylines that go with it. So what can you expect this week?

PGA Tour/European Tour

Tournament: World Golf Championships – Accenture Match Play Championship
Location: The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain – Marana, Arizona
Dates: 2/22/12 – 2/26/12

While the golf world hasn’t lacked drama and intrigue to this point in the season, this is the first big tournament of the year. Save a few scratches, this event includes the top 64 golfers in the world. And given the flukey nature of match play golf, we are sure to see some fantastic triumphs and head-scratching defeats. Let’s not forget the potential match-ups here either. We could possibly see a Kyle Stanley-Brandt Snedeker showdown. Or who wouldn’t like to see Alvaro Quiros and Gary Woodland go one on one and hot golf balls to the moon? But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the first round.

What can we expect from 3-time champ Tiger Woods this week? His struggle with the putter has been well documented. But, does it matter this week? History says yes, but who knows this week. He has shown us that he can get streaky with the putter at times (see: Pebble Beach 2 weeks ago). And the important thing to remember with match play is that you don’t have to beat everyone. You just have to beat the guy you are playing against. Sounds simple, but if Tiger can get his putter rolling in a couple rounds and have his opponents stumble at some point, we could easily see him play into the weekend. And let’s not forget the trash talk. Once upon a time, Stephen Ames told the world that Tiger could be beaten right before this very tournament. Don’t make Tiger angry, you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry (or his ex-wife for that matter). In an all-time, epic beatdown, Tiger took care of Stephen Ames 9&8. This still remains the biggest drubbing in the tournaments history. Well, wouldn’t you know it, Tiger’s opponent this week, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano also thinks Tiger is beatable. Granted, this is not the same Tiger that dispatched of poor Stephen Ames in 9 holes, but I expect Fernandez-Castano’s comments didn’t sit very well with Tiger. Count this first round match as a W for Eldrick.

How about some of the other guys, huh? I’ve always thought that match-play requires a nice even temperment. This also probably the reason I struggle with it. Look for guys like Steve Stricker, Mark Wilson, and Nick Watney to do well this week. Also look for guys that have had a lot of match play experience lately. Stricker fits that bill again having played in the President’s Cup last fall. I guess you could say that’s my pick. But what do I know? He’s just as likely to go out in the first round. That’s what makes this tournament so great. You really never know. It makes every match worth watching.

On Tap Recommendation: Since this week’s event is in Arizona, how about going out and getting yourself a couple Arizona Ice Teas. Or even and Arnold Palmer. I won’t tell anyone if you make it a John Daly by adding a little vodka.