Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:
By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange February 17, 2014 3:40 AM
1. Tiger Woods, United States -- Woods is skipping the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship this week even though he won the tournament in 2003, 2004 and 2008. His first two titles came at La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., and the third at the Gallery at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz. He has not done as well since the tournament moved next door to the Club at Dove Mountain, losing twice in the first round and twice in the second in his four appearances. ... Tiger is at home in Florida working on his game after the worst start to a year in his career, a tie for 80th in the Farmers Insurance Open to miss the secondary cut and a tie for 41st in the Dubai Desert Classic. He will return next week for the Honda Classic. He admitted to not working on his game much during the holidays and seemed to be getting it back when he birdied the last three holes in Dubai and shot 9-under-par 63 in an exhibition in India on his way home. ... Woods used to be able to take long breaks and come back as if he never left, but it isn't that way anymore at the age of 38. He needs to practice and play competitively more often, and he will do the latter by competing in the Honda, the WGC-Cadillac Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the Florida Swing, defending his titles in the latter two events. Those tournaments will be crucial as he begins his run-up to the Masters in April, where he hopes to end his major championship drought that dates to 2008. 2. Adam Scott, Australia -- The Masters champion is in the final days of a six-week break from the PGA Tour and will return next week for the Honda Classic at PGA National, which will be the beginning of his competitive preparation for his title defense in April at Augusta National. He also will play the following week in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, and that might be the last time he plays before the Masters. Last year, he played only twice on the Florida Swing and did not play competitively again until the first major of the year. ... Scott is skipping the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship this week, saying he simply does not enjoy playing the Club at Dove Mountain near Tucson. He hasn't played well there either, losing in the first round at Dove Mountain in each of the past three years and five times altogether since the tournament moved there from La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., in 2008. At La Costa, he reached the third round in each of his six appearances and finished third in 2003, when he beat fellow Aussie Peter Lonard in the consolation match after he took Tiger Woods to 19 holes before losing in the semifinals. He said he would be open to playing in the tournament next year if it moved to a new venue. ... After winning five times around the globe last year to climb to No. 2 in the World Golf Rankings, he got the new year off to a good start by tying for sixth in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and tying for eighth at the Sony Open in Hawaii. That would seem to indicate that he is headed for another big year. 3. Henrik Stenson, Sweden -- After a not-so-impressive start to his season on the Middle East Swing of the European Tour, Stenson will play for the first time on the PGA Tour in 2014 this week, when he tees it up in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship for the eighth time. He has first-round date with Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand. After becoming the first player to capture the FedEx Cup race and the Race to Dubai last year, he could not finish in the top 25 in any of his first three events of 2014. ... Stenson is playing in the Accenture for the eighth time, but he was been knocked out in the first round in each of his last four appearances, all at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain. He won the tournament in 2007 next door at the Gallery at Club Mountain, beating Geoff Ogilvy of Australia in the final, 2 and 1. The next year as defending champion at the Gallery, he lost to eventual champion Tiger Woods in the semifinals, 2 down, but he beat Justin Leonard in the consolation match, 3 and 2. In his only appearance at La Costa, he beat Paul Casey in the first round but lost to Chad Campbell in the second. ... Stenson missed the cut in the Abu Dhabi Championship, his first event this year, but only one bad day, both times in round three, cost him in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. He shot 74 on Saturday in Qatar, where he closed with a 67 to tie 28th. In Dubai, it was a 75, and he came back with a 68 the next day. Had he played well on the Saturdays, both could have been top-10 finishes. 4. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland -- Following a strong finish to 2013 and a good start to this year, McIlroy will play for the first time on the PGA Tour this week in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, facing Boo Weekley in round one. He tied for sixth in the WGC-HSBC Champions and tied for fifth in the DP World Championship-Dubai before winning the Australian Open late last year. Then he started this season by tying for second in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and tying for ninth in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, so he seems to have overcome the problems that dogged him for most of 2013. ... Rory is playing in the Accenture for the seventh time and has a 10-5 record in the event after losing in the opening round for the first time last year, when fellow Irishman Shane Lowry upset him, 1-up. Two years ago, he reeled off victories over George Coetzee of South Africa, Anders Hansen of Denmark, Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, Sang-Moon Bae of South Korea and Lee Westwood of England before Hunter Mahan beat him in the final, 2 and 1. In 2009, he reached the quarterfinals before Geoff Ogilvy beat him, also by 2 and 1. ... McIlroy made a commitment last week to play in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open the week before the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England. He said that Royal Aberdeen is the perfect links preparation and added that Phil Mickelson playing and winning both events last year convinced him to play in the Scottish Open for the fourth time. His best finish in three previous appearances, all at Loch Lomond, was a tie 19th in 2008. 5. Phil Mickelson, United States -- Lefty passed on the Northern Trust Open, which he won in 2008 and 2009, and is skipping the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship this week because his children are on spring break. His explained that his kids go to different schools, so he was off with one last week and with another now. He expressed his regret for not being able to play at Riviera, but apparently he is not so unhappy about missing the Accenture for the third year in a row and the fourth time in the past five seasons. ... Mickelson has a 16-11 record in the Accenture, but he is only 5-4 since the event move to Arizona, making it past the second round only once. He was not pleased when the Accenture was moved from La Costa, not far from his home in the San Diego area, as he finished in the top 10 in five of the seven years he played the event in Southern California. His best result was a tie for fifth in 2004, when Davis Love III eliminated him in the quarterfinals, 1 up. ... The time off will give Lefty a chance to rest the back injury that forced him to withdraw after two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open, his hometown event at Torrey Pines. Even though he played in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, tying for 42nd, and tied for 19th the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he was not at his best. Dr. Tom Boers, his back specialist, was concerned that Mickelson continued to play, saying he risked making the injury more serious, but apparently that didn't happen. Mickelson will return next week for the Honda Classic. 6. Zach Johnson, United States -- Following a busy and blistering run that began last year, Johnson took four weeks off and will be back on the PGA Tour this week for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Even though he was playing exceptionally well, with victories in the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge in December and the Hyundai Tournament of Champions last month, he said he really needed the break and should come back refreshed for his first-round match against Richard Sterne of South Africa. ... Zach is playing in the Accenture for the 10th time and has a 7-9 record in the event after being knocked out in the first round each of the past three years. He suffered narrow losses to Justin Rose, 2 and 1, in 2011 and to eventual champion Hunter Mahan on the 19th hole in 2012, but last year Jason Day of Australia routed him, 6 and 5. Johnson was eliminated five times in the first round in the seven years since the tournament moved to Arizona, and he was ousted in the second round the two other times. His best finish was fourth in 2004 at La Costa, where Davis Love III beat him in the semifinals, 4 and 2, and Tom Lehman defeated him in the consolation match, 1 up. ... After winning his last event of 2013 and first of 2014, Johnson continued to play well, tying for eighth at the Sony Open in Hawaii and tying for third in the Humana Challenge. He hopes he can pick up right where he left off when he gets to Dove Mountain. He also has committed to play next week in the Honda Classic for the first time since 2008. Johnson played three times on the Florida Swing in each of the past 10 seasons. 7. Jimmy Walker, United States -- Coming off his victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, his third in eight outings this season, Walker was in position again in the Northern Trust Open, but he closed with a 2-over-par 73 and wound up in a tie for 20th. Still, it was his seventh top-20 finish in nine starts this season, and he maintained a huge lead in the FedEx Cup standings and on the PGA Tour money list. ... Walker's brilliant play the last four months landed him in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship for the first time, where he drew Branden Grace of South Africa in round one, and he also will make his initial appearance in the Masters in April. He has made six appearances in the majors, but this is the first year in which he will play in all four. In his first start in the World Golf Championships last October, he tied for 46th in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. ... Walker put himself in contention again at Riviera when he posted his second 67 of the tournament in round three, carding four birdies in the last eight holes. He got off to a good start with a birdie on the first hole Sunday, but he made only one more, at No. 17. He ranked among the leaders with 19 birdies in 72 holes, but he also was in the bottom half of the field with 13 bogeys. It is pretty amazing that Walker finished as high as he did because he was out of position most of the way, hitting only 22 of 56 fairways, which ranked next to last among the 77 players who made the cut. 8. Justin Rose, England -- Playing for the first time this season after recovering from a strained right shoulder, Rose broke 70 only when he shot 3-under-par 68 in round three, and he tied for 45th in the Northern Trust Open. After the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, he is expected to play at least three times on the Florida Swing in an effort to get his game in shape for the Masters in April. ... Rose was thinking about skipping the Accenture when he originally set up his schedule, but he will be in the field for the eighth time, facing Scott Piercy in round one. He was eliminated in the first round four times and made it past the second round only when he tied for fifth in 2005. That year, he defeated Michael Campbell, Phil Mickelson and Charles Howell before losing to Trevor Immelman in the quarterfinals, 5-4. He has a 6-8 record in the tournament. ... Rose showed his rust last week at Riviera, except in the third round, when he got off to a great start by holing a 41-foot eagle putt on the first hole. He opened with a solid 70 and would have had decent scores each day if not for two big numbers. The U.S. Open champion drove out of bounds on No. 12 on Friday, made a triple-bogey 7 and wound up with a 72. On Sunday, he needed five shots to reach the 11th green and holed a nine-foot putt for a double-bogey 7 on his way to a 73. 9. Dustin Johnson, United States -- DJ posted bookend 6-under-par 66s last week in the Northern Trust Open, but he came up two strokes short of winner Bubba Watson. It was the second straight week that he wound up as a runner-up, as he also closed with a 66 at Pebble Beach and finished one shot behind Jimmy Walker. It was his third consecutive top-10 finish and fourth of the season, including his victory in the WGC-HSBC Champions. ... Johnson is playing in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship for the sixth time and would like to reverse his fortunes in the event, having been knocked out in the first round four times in his five appearances. Doing the honors were Steve Stricker in 2009, Camilo Villegas of Colombia in 2010, Mark Wilson in 2011 and Alexander Noren of Sweden last year. The one time he did advance, reaching the quarterfinals two years ago before being eliminated by Wilson, who was giving up as much as 50 yards off the tee on some holes, by a score of 4 and 3. He will take a 2-5 record into his first-round match against Peter Hanson of Sweden. ... Johnson played bogey-free in the final round last week at Riviera, and he was only one shot behind Watson down the stretch but could manage only pars on his last three holes, including the par-5 17th. He made only one bogey in his first-round 66, but he was hurt by bogeys on the 16th and 18th holes while shooting 69 on Saturday. DJ is known for his power off the tee, but he led the field by hitting 53 of 72 greens in regulation and ranked 20th in strokes gained putting at plus-0.856. 10. Matt Kuchar, United States -- Returning from a month off, Kuchar didn't have much and shot 74-75--149 to miss the cut by six strokes in the Northern Trust Open. It was the first time he missed the weekend in 31 events, which was the longest active streak on the PGA Tour. The last time he missed the cut came at the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. The rough week also the ended his string of five consecutive finishes in the top 10. ... Kooch will defend his title this week in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, in which he finished in the top five in each of the past three years. He drew Bernd Wiesberger of Austria in the first round. Last year, he avenged a defeat from 2012 when he beat defending champion Hunter Mahan, 2 and 1, in the final. Mahan routed Kuchar 6 and 5 in the quarterfinals a year earlier. Kooch didn't reach the 18th hole in his six matches last year, defeating Hiroyuki Fujita of Japan, 3 and 2; Sergio Garcia of Spain, 2 and 1; Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium, 4 and 3; Robert Garrigus, 3 and 2; and Jason Day of Australia, 4 and 3, en route to the final. Kuchar also finished third in 2011, losing to eventual champion Luke Donald of England in the semifinals, 6 and 5, before beating Bubba Watson in the consolation match, 2 and 1. He has a stellar 14-4 record in the event. ... Kuchar had broken 70 in seven of eight rounds, but his rust showed at Riviera, where he carded only a single birdie in each round. He was off in all phases of the game, hitting barely half the fairways and greens while averaging 30.5 putts per round. 11. Brandt Snedeker, United States -- Following a week off, Snedeker will return this week for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, which he will be playing for only the third time. He plays David Lynn of England in round one. He was the best player on the PGA Tour early last season, but in his first six starts of the 2013-14 season, the only time he finished in the top 50 came when he tied for 11th in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Things are getting worse, because he missed the cut in two of his last three outings. ... Sneds missed the Accenture last year when his hot streak was short-circuited by a strained intercostal muscle, but two years ago he finished in a tie for ninth, beating Retief Goosen and Kyle Stanley before Peter Hanson of Sweden sent him packing, 5-3. In his first appearance in the event, Lee Westwood of England knocked him out in the first round, 3 and 2, so he has a 2-2 overall record. ... With his brilliant run early last year, Snedeker rose to a career-best No. 4 in the World Golf Rankings, but he was down to No. 17 as of last week. He has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, the latest to his right knee when he hopped off a Segway while making a promotional appearance in China during November. That knocked him out of his last few scheduled events of 2013, and he has not been the same since he returned. If the injury was bothering him, it would figure to show up in his ball-striking, but it is his reliable putter that is letting him down. After ranking in the top 10 on the PGA in strokes gained putting each of the past five years, he was 52nd as of last week. 12. Jason Dufner, United States -- Playing on the PGA Tour for the first time since he came down with pneumonia and bronchitis while tying for 29th in the Sony Open in Hawaii, Dufner struggled until closing with a 3-under-par 68 on Sunday and tied for 65th in the Northern Trust Open. The PGA champion started this year by finishing fifth in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, but he has some work to do in the coming weeks to get his game ready for the Masters. ... Duf is playing in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship for only the third time, and he was shown the door in round one in each of his previous appearances. This time, he plays Scott Stallings in the first round. In 2012, Peter Hanson of Sweden beat him, 2 and 1, and last year it was Richard Sterne of South Africa outlasting him, 1 up. He has played well on other World Golf Championships, tying for second in the 2012 HSBC Champions in China, and finishing seventh in the Bridgestone Invitational two years ago and tying for fourth last year. ... After opening with 70-72--142 to make the cut two strokes at Riviera, Dufner carded only one birdie, at No. 5, while shooting 76 on Saturday. The worst came when he got tangled in the rough, needed six shots to reach the eighth green before holing a four-foot putt for a triple-bogey 7. Even his closing 68 could have been better, because he three-putted from 4 feet for a double-bogey 5 on the fourth hole. That was his only hiccup while recording seven birdies in the first 12 holes. 13. Jordan Spieth, United States -- The 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year was in the running for his second victory on the circuit until he came unraveled on the back nine Sunday with four bogeys. He closed with an even-par 71 to tie for 12th in the Northern Trust Open. Spieth has finished in the top 20 in all five events he has played this season, and the victories will come if he keeps putting himself in position on Sunday. ... Spieth is playing in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship for the first time, facing Pablo Larrazabal of Spain in round one. He also will make his first appearance in the Masters in April. He played in his first World Golf Championships event last year, finishing 17th in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in November. He has some match-play experience, posting a 2-0-1 record in the 2011 Walker Cup and a 2-2 mark last year in the Presidents Cup matches, losing his singles match to Graham DeLaet of Canada, 1 down. ... Spieth made his run last week at Riviera by playing the middle rounds in 66-67 and entered the final round four shots off the lead in a tie for seventh. He closed in on the lead by carding three birdies in the first seven holes of the final round, but he had only one more, at the 11th hole, to break up a run of four bogeys in six holes. The 20-year-old holed his second shot with a wedge from 124 yards on the seventh hole to get to 3 under in round one, but he made three bogeys in a row through No. 11 and four in all on the back nine while opening with a 72. 14. Webb Simpson, United States -- Simpson made a last-minute decision to play in the Northern Trust Open. He might have been better off staying at home because he could not break 70 in any of his four rounds and finished in a tie for 70th, beating only four players who made the cut. However, he has enjoyed a strong start to his season with four finishes in the top 10, including his fourth PGA Tour victory in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. ... Webb will tee it up in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship for only the third time. After being knocked out in the first round by Matteo Manassero of Italy two years ago, 3 and 2, he made it all the way to the quarterfinals last year. He defeated David Lynn of England, 5 and 4; Peter Hanson of Sweden, 1 up; and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain, 2 up; before Hunter Mahan slipped past him, 1 up, leaving the 2012 U.S. Open champion in a tie for fifth. He will take a 3-2 record into his first-round match against Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand. ... Simpson opened with 70-72--144 last week at Riviera to make the cut by two strokes, the 17th consecutive event in which he reached the weekend. Then he made bogeys on three of his first five holes on Saturday before salvaging a 72, and he carded six more bogeys in a closing 74. The highlight of his week was holing his third shot from a greenside bunker for an eagle on the 11th hole of the first round. He was unable to score consistently because he hit only 35 of 72 greens in regulation, better than only two players who made the cut. 15. Bubba Watson, United States -- It was a long time coming, but Bubba finally put it all together again when he shot 64-64 on the weekend, playing his last 39 holes without a bogey, to win the Northern Trust Open by two strokes over Dustin Johnson. It was his first victory since the 2012 Masters, his fifth on the PGA Tour, and it came two weeks after he nearly broke through at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he was in the lead on Sunday before closing with a 71 to tie for second, one stroke behind Kevin Stadler. ... Watson is playing in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, drawing Mikko Ilonen of Finland in the first round on Wednesday. He has done well in the tournament, especially when he finished fourth in his first try in 2011, beating Bill Haas, Mark Wilson, Geoff Ogilvy and J.B. Holmes en route to the semifinals. Martin Kaymer ended his championship hopes, 1 up, and Matt Kuchar beat him in the consolation match, 2 and 1. Kuchar also beat him, 3 and 2, in the second round in 2012, and last year he reached round three before Jason Day knocked him out, 4 and 3, so he has a 7-4 record in the event. ... Watson took a one-stroke lead to the final hole at Riviera last week and punctuated his victory with a 14-foot birdie putt. He didn't get off to a great start, carding double bogeys on two of his first three holes after starting at No. 10 in round one. He added another double on the ninth hole the next day while starting 70-71--141 to make the cut by three strokes. Bubba had two big hole-outs, chipping in for eagle on No. 1 in the first round and sinking a bunker shot for birdie at No. 6 on Sunday. 16. Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland -- After starting his year with a tie for fifth in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, G-Mac took another week off but will be back this week to play in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. He actually played twice in the 2013-14 season, having finished solo third in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in November. He showed in the past that he can be very good at match play. McDowell drew Gary Woodland in round one. ... McDowell won the Volvo World Match Play Championship last year by beating Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand in the final, 3 and 2, and he has been a clutch performer for the Europeans in the Ryder Cup. However, his record in seven appearances in the Accenture has been mixed to stay the least, although last year he recorded his best finish in the event, a tie for fifth. He knocked off Padraig Harrington of Ireland, Alexander Noren of Sweden and Shane Lowry of Ireland to get to the semifinals, where he lost a tough match to Jason Day of Australia on the final hole, 1 down. Before that, he was eliminated in the first round four times in six tries, his best result a tie for ninth in 2009, when Y.E. Yang of South Korea beat him in the third round, 3 and 2. ... Even though McDowell played well in his return to Pebble Beach, where he won the 2010 U.S. Open, the trip was mostly about having fun with his father, Kenny, a 10-handicapper. They flew into San Francisco the weekend before the tournament and played San Francisco Golf Club, Monterey Peninsula, Cypress Point and Pebble Beach on four consecutive days. He said he would get serious this week. 17. Patrick Reed, United States -- Reed took a much needed week off ahead of his first appearance in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, where he will play Graham DeLaet of Canada on the first day. It is also his initial appearance in any of the World Golf Championships. Because he posted his first two PGA Tour victories since August, he has several firsts coming up in the next few months. He will play in the Masters for the first time in April, and if he remains in the top 50 of the World Golf Rankings -- he was 44th last week -- he will tee it up in all four majors in one year for the first time. ... The downside is that his wife and caddie, Justine, is going to be unavailable for much of the fun, but there is a much greater upside to that because she is expecting their first child, which they recently learned is a girl. The baby is due near the end of May, and Justine hopes that she will be able to return for the PGA Championship at Valhalla in August. She helped train her brother, Kessler Karain, to fill her caddie shoes while she is out of action, and it is driving her nuts to be outside the ropes. ... Reed, who claimed his first PGA Tour victory by beating Jordan Spieth in a playoff at the Wyndham Championship last year, showed it was no fluke by winning the Humana Classic in January. He finished in the top 20 in each of his past four tournaments, and as of last week, he was ninth in the FedEx Cup standings and 11th in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings for the matches in September in Scotland. Justine definitely would be back for that if he makes captain Tom Watson's team. 18. Jason Day, Australia -- After getting his season off to a relatively late start, Day has had one very good result and one that was not so good. He tied for second in the Humana Challenge and tied for 64th in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am to miss the secondary cut thanks to a 77 in the second round. Even though he owns only one victory on the PGA Tour, in the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship, he shows up for the big events. The Aussie has six top-10 finishes in the majors in the past four years, including three last season, and he also has challenged in the World Golf Championships. ... Day is playing in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship for the fourth time, and last year he finished third, losing to eventual winner Matt Kuchar in the semifinals, 4 and 3, before beating Ian Poulter in the consolation match, 1 up. He also tied for ninth in 2011, when J.B. Holmes beat him in round three, and lost in the second round to fellow Aussie John Senden in 2012, so he takes an 8-3 record into a first-round match against Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark. ... Rising up in the big events has helped Day climb to No. 10 in the World Golf Rankings, and he claimed his third victory as a pro in November when he captured the individual title in the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf and teamed with Masters champion Adam Scott to give Australia the team title at Royal Melbourne. With his ability, he has to start winning more often, and that result might provide the catalyst. 19. Sergio Garcia, Spain -- Playing some of the most consistent golf of his career in the past few months should give Garcia a tremendous amount of confidence heading into his first event of 2014 on the PGA Tour, the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. He finished in the top 20 of his past five tournaments, including victories in the Thailand Golf Championship in December and the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters last month. ... Garcia is playing in the Accenture for the 12th time, facing Marc Leishman of Australia in round one, and he finished in the top 10 four times. He made a run for the title in 2010, when he defeated David Toms, Anders Hansen of Denmark, Tim Clark of South Africa and Oliver Wilson of England before another Englishman, Ian Poulter, took him out in the semifinals, 7-6. Garcia also lost the consolation match to Camilo Villegas of Colombia, 5 and 4. He has a 13-12 record in the event and has been ousted in the first round three times. His best result in the Volvo World Match Play Championship was fifth in 2012, when Graeme McDowell needed 19 holes to beat him in the quarterfinals at Finca Cortesin in Spain. ... Sergio got his 2013-14 PGA Tour season off to a solid start when he tied for 11th in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and finished solo fourth in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. Those results gave him some momentum late in the year and led to the two victories, his first two since late 2012, that lifted him back into the top 10 of the World Golf Rankings, at No. 8 last week. 20. Keegan Bradley, United States -- Coming off a missed cut in the Waste Management Phoenix Open two weeks ago, Bradley carded bookend scores of 3-under-par 68 and finished in a tie for 20th in the Northern Trust Open. Other than missing the weekend in Phoenix, he has played well this season, finishing in the top 20 in all five of his other tournaments, but he must take the next step and put himself in position to win. ... Keegan will be making his third appearance in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, hoping for better than his exit in the first round last year when Marcus Fraser of Australia beat him, 1 up. In his first try in the event in 2012, he beat former Accenture champion Geoff Ogilvy of Australia, 4 and 3, in the first round before Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain sent him home, 2 and 1. Bradley, who claimed his only World Golf Championships event in the 2012 Bridgestone Invitational, takes a 1-2 mark into his opener against Jonas Blixt of Sweden. ... Bradley made a run into the top 10 by carding five birdies on the front nine in the final round at Riviera, but he did not make another and while posting bogeys on the 12th and 14th holes. It was similar in his opening 68, as he had four birdies on the front nine, but only one more at No. 13. Bradley spoiled what could have been another very good round on Saturday when he got bogged down in the rough, took five shots to reach the green and absorbed a triple-bogey 7 on the eighth hole en route to a 72. Others receiving consideration: Ernie Els, South Africa; Jim Furyk, United States; Lee Westwood, England; Luke Donald, England; Bill Haas, United States; Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa; Hunter Mahan, United States; Ryan Moore, United States; Charl Schwartzel, South Africa; Harris English, United States; Ian Poulter, England; Scott Stallings, United States; Graham DeLaet, Canada; Kevin Stadler, United States.