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Inside the Ropes: Accenture fails to attract world's best

The SportsXchange

The field for the World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship is more notable for who won't be at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain than for the players who actually will participate this week.

Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson -- three of the top four players in the World Golf Rankings -- will be elsewhere when the tournament is played in Marana, Ariz., probably for the last time.

Too bad, because there is no snow in the forecast this week.

"Mostly based on the course, for sure," Scott said recently when asked about his decision to wait until next week at the Honda Classic before returning to the PGA Tour after a six-week break.

"My record isn't very good around there, and I haven't enjoyed playing there the last few years, so it was a pretty easy one."

The Masters champion lost in the first round at Dove Mountain in each of the last three years and five times altogether since the tournament moved there from La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., in 2008.

Scott never made it out of the second round in Arizona, even when the tournament was played next door at the Gallery in the first two years after moving from Southern California.

At La Costa, he made it to 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 Woods needed 19 holes to beat him in the semifinals.

Woods, who won the match play title three times, gave no reason for passing on the tournament this year, but it isn't too difficult reading between the lines of his decision to stay home in Florida and wait for the PGA Tour to come to him next week.

Woods claimed the title in 2003 and 2004 at La Costa, in addition to losing to Darren Clarke in the 2000 final. He won in 2008 at Dove Mountain, but that victory came on the Gallery.

In Woods' four appearances at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain, he was eliminated in the first round by Thomas Bjorn in 2009 and by Charles Howell III last year, and he didn't get out of the second round the other two times.

He skipped the tournament in 2010 in the wake of his tabloid scandal, sitting out that year until the Masters in April.

Last year, when it snowed during the Accenture for the second time in three years, Woods didn't seem too upset after losing in round one, even though Howell said he never beat Tiger in their matches back home in Florida.

When asked about his future plans, Woods said: "Well, go get warm."

Said Jim Furyk: "There is a reason we don't play in cold weather. Follow the sun, isn't that it?"

In a Golf Digest poll of PGA Tour players last year ranking courses played on the circuit, the Club at Dove Mountain came in 51st -- next to last -- ahead of only Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J.

Mickelson was not pleased when the Accenture was moved from La Costa, close to his home in the San Diego area, because he enjoyed the course his dad used to take him to when the pros played there in the Tournament of Champions -- which he won twice before it moved to Hawaii.

Mickelson, who is skipping the match play event for the third year in a row and the fourth time in five seasons, always uses the family-vacation excuse.

"My kids are out of school," said Mickelson, who played four consecutive weeks before missing the Northern Trust Open last week. "Both are at different schools, so that's two different spring breaks the week of Los Angeles and Match Play.

"Because I am missing L.A. and I like to play that week, I am going to add Honda, which I have not played in quite a few years. But I'm excited to get back there and play this year."

No mention of enjoying the Accenture, even though he owns seven wins in Arizona and is very popular there, having attended Arizona State and having lived in Scottsdale for a time.

Mickelson finished in the top 10 in five of the seven years he played the Accenture at La Costa, but in his four appearances in the tournament in Arizona, he made it past the second round only once.

Even though the players loved La Costa, the event was moved because it often rained during tournament week.

Dove Mountain seems to have two strikes against it with the cold, sometimes snowy weather and the fact that many of the players are not enamored with the course. In addition, the crowds have been relatively sparse.

For some reason, the masses have not made the 25-mile trip up the mountain from Tucson, possibly because of the cold.

Accenture's contract with the tournament runs out this year, and the company told the PGA Tour that it would not renew, which might mean a change in venue. Many players hope they won't have to make that trek again, either.
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