MARANA, Ariz. (AP) — Rory McIlroy played his worst golf in the Match Play Championship the year he reached the final.
Henrik Stenson was on the verge of losing in the first round to Zach Johnson in 2007, facing a tough up-and-down to avoid falling two holes behind with three to play. He saved par, Johnson missed a birdie putt, Stenson birdied the next two holes and the Swede wound up winning the Accenture Match Play Championship.
There are brackets, just like the NCAA Tournament.
There are no Coastal Carolinas.
The most fickle of World Golf Championship gets underway Wednesday. The whole tournament is a bracket buster. McIlroy was asked about this chance this week, and all he knew was that he played Boo Weekley in the first round.
Here are five things to consider going into the opening round, one of the most exciting days in golf:
THE CURSE OF THE NO. 1 SEED: Tiger Woods, who is not playing this week, has been the No. 1 seed nine times in 13 appearances, and he has done fairly well. He won the Match Play Championship three times, lost in the final another time and was knocked out in the first round only once as the top seed.
The others have not been so fortunate.
In three of the last four years, the No. 1 seed was gone after the opening round — Rory McIlroy (by Shane Lowry) in 2013, Luke Donald (by Ernie Els) in 2012, and Steve Stricker (by Ross McGowan) in 2010. The exception was Lee Westwood in 2011. He lost in the second round.
The burden this year falls to Stenson, who is the No. 1 seed because Woods and Adam Scott are not playing. His opening round was against Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
DOVE MOUNTAIN: The Match Play Championship hasn't been warmly received since moving to the high desert north of Tucson. It was held on The Gallery course for three years, then the Ritz-Carlton. Even with wide fairways, there is a premium on accuracy because of desert golf. Golf balls roll forever in the desert, stopped only by a bush or a cactus. And that usually leads to an unplayable lie.
This most certainly is the final year at Dove Mountain. Accenture is not renewing as title sponsor, and the tour is looking at options.
RYDER CUP PREVIEW: In a peculiar coincidence, half of the opening-round matches will have a Ryder Cup flavor to them — USA vs. Europe. Just don't expect Tom Watson or Paul McGinley to be glued to the television.