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Jack Nicklaus' Muirfield Village Golf Club traditionally plays as one of the tougher tracks on TOUR. …

World Golf Championships

Accenture Match Play

The Golf Club at Dove Mountain

Jack Nicklaus Signature Course

Marana, Ariz.

Jack Nicklaus Signature Course

Yards: 7,791

Par: 72 (36-36)

Greens: Bentgass; 6,000 square feet on average

Rough: Bermudagrass and ryegrass at 3 inches

Stimpmeter: 11.5

Bunkers: 87

Water Hazards: 1

Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus (2005)

Purse: $9,000,000

Winner’s Share: $1,530,000

FexExCup Points: 550 to the winner

Defending Champion: Matt Kuchar defeated Hunter Mahan, the 2012 champion, 2 & 1 to win his first WGC title.

Dates:  February 19-23

Format: The field of 64 players will play match play to determine the champion. No matches will EVER be “dormie” because each match must have a winner. Unlike the Volvo World Match Play, this is a single-elimination event.

Notes: The field is set with 64 players. If there are any WDs, the alternate, regardless of ranking, will slide into the field. The field WILL NOT be recalibrated based on ranking.

Recent History Lessons

After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won the first 13 events of 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed, Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler and Bubba Watson have kept the engravers busy this fall and winter.

After racking up 12 first-time winners in 2013, the new season has added only two more in the first 13 events as Jimmy Walker (Frys.com) and Kevin Stadler (WMPO) have broken their maidens. Both guys are in their mid-30s as well.

Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has racked up three victories on his own. He is joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler, 33, at WMPO and now Bubba Watson, 35, at Riviera. Scott Stallings, 28, Patrick Reed (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29) and Harris English, (24) are the twenty-somethings on the board. The Young Guns now have six of 12 wins to start the season. The Old Guys haven’t had any luck as Phil Mickelson has had back and putting problems. Jim Furyk has only played two events but that’s one more than Steve Stricker! K.J. Choi, which has been the case often this season, flew the flag for the old guys with T12 last week in Los Angeles.

Pay Attention: It’s FREE

The World Golf Championships (WGC) events are loaded with the best fields in golf. The winners of these tournaments are consistently major forces in the world of golf. Since the inception of these events in 1999, Kevin Sutherland is the ONLY winner not to play on a President’s Cup or Ryder Cup team.

Gamers, if you are horsing for coursing, please remember that the Match Play moved to Dove Mountain in 2009.

In the 50 events that now count as WGC events, only 10 winners have NOT been major champions. Check out this list!

Jeff Maggert: 1999 Match Play inaugural champion; THREE-time Ryder Cupper

Steve Stricker: 2001 Match Play champ; Do I need to list his credentials?

Craig Parry: 2002 Bridgestone Invitational; THREE-time President’s Cupper

Kevin Sutherland: 2002 Match Play champ

Henrik Stenson: 2007 Match Play champ; He won EVERYTHING last year plus a PLAYERS

Ian Poulter: 2010 Match Play champ; 2012 HSBC Champions winner; Destroys the US in Ryder Cups.

Francesco Molinari: 2010 HSBC Champions winner; two-time Ryder Cupper

Hunter Mahan: 2010 Bridgestone Invitational champ; 2012 Match Play champ

Nick Watney: 2011 Cadillac Championship; President’s Cupper in 2011

Matt Kuchar: 2013 Match Play champ; also won 2012 PLAYERS; two-time Ryder Cupper

Those are the WORST guys that have won this event! The other 40 victories are by major champions. That’s unbelievable.

Since moving to Dove Mountain in 2009, the rest of the world has three of the five wins but the U.S. has won the last two.

Kevin Sutherland’s only victory in his career on TOUR was his Match Play title in 2002.

Tiger Woods and Geoff Ogilvy are the only multiple winners of this event.

Woods is the only player to defend his Match Play title. Shocking, I know…

The largest margin of victory in this event is Woods over Stephen Ames, 9 & 8.

64 of the 67 best players, according to the OWGR are in the field this week.

Ian Poulter and Luke Donald are the players in the field with the most wins in this event.

In the last 15 years, there are have been all-American finals SEVEN times.

The No. 1 overall seed has NOT seen round three since 2008. Henrik Stenson has that streak to break this year.

The four, No.1 seeds have never all met in the semifinals so remember that when filling out your bracket. #chalkdust

Past Champions in the Field

2013 Matt Kuchar

2012 Hunter Mahan

2011 Luke Donald

2010 Ian Poulter

2007 Henrik Stenson

2001 Steve Stricker

Raise Your Hand if you are NOT Here

World No. 1 Tiger Woods, No. Adam Scott and No. 4 Phil Mickelson are absent this week. This is excellent news for gamers as Woods and Scott have been knocked out early in this event in recent years. Mickelson will not play for the fourth time in five years so not surprising he’s not here.

The three players listed above have been replaced by No. 65 Richard Sterne (South Africa), No. 66 Scott Piercy (USA) and No. 67 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand).

Patrick Reed, Victor Dubuisson and Brendon de Jonge are playing in their first WGC tournament.

There are 20, first-time Match Players this week.

Unlike the NCAA tournament, the No. 16 has defeated the No. 1 seed four times in history. Last year, Shane Lowry beat Rory McIlroy to the chagrin of gamers.

Inside the Ropes

The Jack Nicklaus Signature Course has been home to this event since 2009, the year it opened. There has been snow, rain, wind, frost, fog and just about everything except searing heat in the high Sonoran desert over the years so if match play wasn’t grueling enough, players will have to prepare for the weather as well. This week’s forecast looks benign so the players have that going for them, which is nice. Dove Mountain is a classic Nicklaus design that players will more difficult the closer they get to the hole. Fairways are plenty wide and the rough is only three inches of Bermudagrass that shouldn’t bother the best players in the world. Around the greens is where the course tricks up as severe slopes and false fronts will lead to plenty of chips, pitches, putts and clanks with fairway metals to try and get the ball close. The greens at Dove Mountain are slightly above average in size and will be running at 11.5’ on the Stimpmeter. This speed will allow for plenty of birdies but the undulations are the main defense and will challenge the players whose approach shots do not find the proper shelf.

Match play on a course like this makes it even more challenging for gamers to project solid players this week. The tee ball on this course is almost irrelevant regardless of the 7,700 yards because of the width of the fairways. The winners on this course since 2009 have been Geoff Ogilvy (big hitter), Poulter (not big hitter), Donald (same as Poulter), Mahan (same as Donald) and Kuchar (same as Mahan). That’s four non-long ballers winning and one heavy hitter winning. But, those are five really solid putters. Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

This week, I’m looking for guys who embrace this format and guys who are currently on form. The tiebreaker, for me, will be current form as this course will relinquish birdies and birdies, not pars are going to win this. I am also throwing out Ryder Cup/President Cup records because there is no sensible comparison in those events. This is money and world-rankings grab, not a chance to play for your country so don’t make it out to be something it’s not.

The Brackets

There’s no Yahoo! game this week but there is the Golf Channel game and the PGATOUR.com game to play. Remember, there are four brackets with players seeded No.1 through No. 16, just like the NCAA tournament but minus the play-in games.

Bobby Jones Bracket

The chalk says with No. 1 overall seed Henrik Stenson with No. 4 Brandt Snedeker on the top half facing the winner of No. 2 Jason Day facing No. 3 Steve Stricker for a chance at the final four. Glass says Stenson, winner of this event in 2007, will face Webb Simpson in the regional semifinal and fall to the American. Simpson loves desert golf and enjoys getting low on easy courses and I feel Stenson is setting the bar for another run at the majors and his early play in 2014 doesn’t give me confidence this week. Jason Day will have his hands full with first-timer Patrick Reed before falling short to Simpson in the final.

Bobby Jones Bracket Sleeper: Patrick Reed

Bobby Jones Bracket Fade: Brandt Snedeker

Bobby Jones Bracket Winner: Webb Simpson

Ben Hogan Bracket

The chalk has No. 1 Rory McIlroy facing No. 4 Charl Schwartzel in the top half of this brutal bracket and the winner of that match will take on the winner of No. 2 Sergio Garcia and No. 3 Ian Poulter. This bracket is LOADED. There are four 2013-14 TOUR winners in this bracket, including No. 5 Jimmy Walker. Schwartzel won twice in the fall/winter before returning to the TOUR. McIlroy won in Australia in December. If McIlroy gets by the steady and hot Harris English, I look for him to defeat Ian Poulter, who will knock out Jimmy Walker, to make the final four. It’s hot chalk but McIlroy is on fire currently, minus a victory.

Ben Hogan Bracket Sleeper: Chris Kirk

Ben Hogan Bracket Fade: Jim Furyk

Ben Hogan Bracket Winner: Rory McIlroy

Gary Player Bracket

The chalk suggests No. 1 Justin Rose facing No. 4 Jason Dufner in the top portion in the bracket with the winner facing No. 2 Matt Kuchar or No. 3 Jordan Spieth. This is my upset bracket because I’m not crazy about any of the top four seeds MINUS #SpiethBoner and this is his first time in this event. Stephen Gallacher was not intimidated in the desert as held off McIlroy to win in the last week in January and Justin Rose just doesn’t fire in this event. Scott Stallings will be my darker horse from this side of the bracket as he’s also stood up on Sunday this week with his big victory at Torrey Pines. Stallings has no problems making birdies. The other half of this bracket will have train-wreck written all over it as well but I’m sticking with Spieth to grind his way out. Every time I’ve put a –CAUTION- on Spieth, he’s laughed. He defeats Joost Luiten and Stephen Gallacher to make the final four.

Gary Player Bracket Sleeper: Scott Stallings

Gary Player Bracket Fade: Justin Rose

Gary Player Bracket Winner: Jordan Spieth

Sam Snead Bracket

Another brutal test here that lines up No. 1 seed and hot player Zach Johnson taking on No. 4 seed Graeme McDowell with the chance to face No. 2, and also on fire, Dustin Johnson or No. 3 Bubba Watson who just played his last 43 holes at Riviera BOGEY FREE. My goodness. This is the projected regional SEMIFINALS? I’d pay to watch this as the final four!

But.

Johnson must knock out last year’s runner up and 2012 champ Hunter Mahan in the SECOND round to advance. McDowell will have to handle Gary Woodland, who with had the 70-hole lead at Torrey Pines just to open and then face Kaymer, who has a great record here or Matsuyama who’s destroying all expectations in his young career. How about Watson and Keegan Bradley in round two? Holy. I see Johnson persevering with his wonderful short game to face and defeat McDowell. Keegan Bradley pulls the upset and defeats Dustin Johnson to face Johnson.

Sam Snead Bracket Sleeper: Victor Dubuisson

Sam Snead Bracket Fade: Bubba Watson

Sam Snead Bracket Winner: Keegan Bradley

Keep going to see who wins! You can do it!

Jordan Spieth of the Week Last Week

The column was taken over and thrashed by the kid from Texas last year. Out of respect, I’m not changing the title of it for 2013-14. It will remind me just how good Spieth was in the last three months of the season. This year, we’ll still identify an up-and-coming player and/or rookie that fantasy players should have on their radar.

Frys.com: Hideki Matsuyama, T3; Brooks Koepka, T3; Max Homa, T9.

SHCO: Ryo Ishikawa is only 22, don’t forget, T2; Chesson Hadley, T5.

CIMB: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 24, might have enough money after this week to earn Special Temporary Membership. Pay attention!

WGC-HSBC: Jordan Spieth was 17th. Tommy Fleetwood (T18) is only 22 and plays in Europe. Matsuyama WD with a bad back.

McGladrey: Scott Langley turned 24 last April and is in his second season on TOUR. He finished T22 last week and No. 124 last season. #slimpickinngsthisweek

OHL Mayakoba: Harris English turned 24 last July. He won.

HTOC:  Er, Jordan Spieth, solo second.

Sony: Hudson Swafford and Will Wilcox both finished T8. Both played on the Web.com Tour last year and are rookies on TOUR this season.

Humana: Patrick Reed won. He’s 23. You need to pay attention.

FIO: Ryo Ishikawa, 22, bagged another top 10 finish. That’s his sixth in his last 10 events on TOUR or the Web.com Tour. He’s an alternate this week as of Monday afternoon.

WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama is 21. In 11 events the last two years, he’s hit the top 25 in NINE of them, including T4 last week. #ALLRIGHTYTHEN

Pebble Beach: Er, Jordan Spieth, T4. Patrick Reed, 23, finished T13 and he’s won twice since August. Golf is good hands, again.

Riviera: Harris English won’t be 25 until July. He was T10; Spieth was T12.

One-and-Done

SEASON TOTAL: $2,467,846

Frys.com: Gary Woodland, MC. Well, at least I don’t have to worry about when I’m using GARY WOODLAND again!

SHFC Open: Hideki Matsuyama. Time to break through, son. Matsuyama WD with injury so he was replaced with Nick Watney. He finished T48 for $15,264

CIMB Classic: Let’s try this again: Hideki Matsuyama. There’s no cut. This pleases me. His T25 after 74 on Sunday does not please me. Oh well. Here’s $53,433 into the piggy bank.

WGC-HSBC: Martin Kaymer. There’s no other place I would consider using him and he’s the defending champ on this track. #hangsonfordearlife. Kaymer’s third round 62 dared me to dream but his T8 and $161,667 is a nice deposit.

The McGladrey Classic: David Toms. He’s finished T3 in 2010 and second last year. His recent form suggests he’s playing well and I don’t see another chance to burn him down the road. It was him or CH III. Well, BOTH of my selections finished T27. I should have listened to O…T27 was good for $39,050.

OHL Mayakoba: Brian Gay. When form meets course history…  Well, that was a nice theory but it resulted in T45 and $18,060. I’m glad 2013 is now over.

HTOC: Martin Laird. Since I’m off to a woeful start I see no reason to burn a premium player. Chris Kirk was my second choice but nobody wins in back-to-back starts plus he’s just had another child. Laird is the horse-for-course. The Scot finished T20 in a 30-man field for $87,000.

Sony: Charles Howell III. He plays great in the early part of the season and his record at Waialae has everything BUT a win. If you notice, I saved most of my heavy hitters for the latter part of 2013 last year and that strategy worked out. Hey, a top 10 and $119,000! Feels like a winner!

Humana: Webb Simpson has been on fire to get 2013-14 started and going low has never been a problem. It’s time to start firing at ‘em. Sigh. Another week brings another disappointing selection as I add a whopping $57,000 to my morbid total.

FIO: Same as last year, Rickie Fowler. He’s working with Butch Harmon to get to the next level and he’s played SoCal courses plenty in his young life. He finished up last week at Humana 67-66 and he’s finished T5, T20, T13 and T6 last year in four career starts. I’ll save Woods and Mickelson for down the road for bigger winner’s checks. Snedeker and Walker were also considered and are solid options for this week. Fowler was just as bad as the other four I had listed, save for Woods’ MDF cash. Tough week in OAD for most I’m guessing. MC $0.

WMPO: Ryan Palmer. He’s on fire, can really putt and was fifth here last year. His excellent 64 saw him make the cut but his 70-72 weekend resulted in T48 at $15,772. I finished strong last year because I had a stable full of studs from The Open Championship through the FedExCup Playoffs. I’m not panicking. Yet.

AT&T PEBBLE: Jimmy Walker is the pick this week. He’s a beast on the West Coast and he’s had time to recover from his illness after MC at Torrey Pines. BANG TRISCUITS. Winner, winner, chicken dinner and $1,188,000.

NTO: Dustin Johnson goes to bat this week for Team Glass. His form is excellent and the fact that he’s banged top 10s in half of his trips here doesn’t hurt either. Tacos for everyone! Johnson’s solo second adds $723,600 to the bank! #heatwave

WGC-Match Play: Ian Poulter will be my hedge this week. His recent starts hardly inspire but there’s no doubting his inner fortitude in Match Play. He is the 2010 champ and was fourth last year. I don’t see myself using him anywhere else this season. Hunter Mahan would be choice No. 2 but I don’t like his draw with the sizzling Zach Johnson. Don’t forget Mahan played in the last group in the U.S. Open and The Open in 2013.

GolfChannel.com Fantasy Golf

Glass ($4,177,174; Rank: 7,194)

Bobby Jones Bracket Winner: Webb Simpson

Ben Hogan Bracket Winner: Rory McIlroy

Gary Player Bracket Winner: Jordan Spieth

Sam Snead Bracket Winner: Keegan Bradley

Final

Rory McIlroy d. Keegan Bradley

Rob Bolton ($3,980,384; Rank: 8,603)

Bobby Jones Bracket Winner: Jason Day

Ben Hogan Bracket Winner: Rory McIlroy

Gary Player Bracket Winner: Jordan Spieth

Sam Snead Bracket Winner: Dustin Johnson

Final

Rory McIlroy d. Jordan Spieth

Ryan O’ Sullivan ($3,829,481; Rank: 9,828)

Bobby Jones Bracket Winner: Jason Day

Ben Hogan Bracket Winner: Rory McIlroy

Gary Player Bracket Winner: Jordan Spieth

Sam Snead Bracket Winner: Hunter Mahan

Final

Jordan Spieth d. Rory McIlroy

Ned Brown ($5,258,798; Rank: 1,890)

*

Bobby Jones Bracket Winner: Jason Day

Ben Hogan Bracket Winner: Rory McIlroy

Gary Player Bracket Winner: Matt Kuchar

Sam Snead Bracket Winner: Hunter Mahan

Final

Jason Day d. Hunter Mahan

Ned said, “…

Ned Brown is a long-time contributor for Rotoworld Golf.  He’s had documented success in Yahoo!’s game for years.  Even if you’re confident in your selections for that game, give his insight a read. 

The Yahoo! game is off this week but Ned’s picks return next Tuesday so stay tuned!

 

Coming Wednesday TUESDAY

 

And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat TOMORROW, TUESDAY at NOON p.m. ET. We will be breaking down the field at the WGC- MATCH PLAY and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter.

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