Match Play: Swede returns after 5 years

2013-02-12T00:00:00Z Match Play: Swede returns after 5 yearsDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 12, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The last time Carl Pettersson qualified for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, iPhones weren't around, Lute Olson was still coaching the Arizona Wildcats and a 17-year-old Rory McIlroy had yet to win a professional tournament.

But Pettersson will be back next week for this year's edition of the tournament for the first time since 2007. He was ranked No. 37 then and, now, after years of toiling in the 100s and 200s in the rankings, Pettersson is back in at No. 34.

The 35-year-old Swede's story represents Match Play's best quality - no one is ever out of it.

The field for Match Play is nearly finalized after the world golf rankings locked Monday. The world's No. 2, Tiger Woods, has yet to officially commit to the tournament, but that's expected this week.

Everything else, for the exception of a late injury, seems set. No one else outside of the top 65 (Phil Mickelson is skipping the event) can get in the field anymore.

With that mind, here are three golfers we'll be watching next week.

The new favorite?

Brandt Snedeker

Ranking: No. 4

What he did last week: Snedeker won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am by two shots and fired a 68 or better on all four days of the tournament.

This year: Snedeker has been the hottest player on the PGA Tour so far in 2013. He was third at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, tied for second at the Farmers Insurance Open and second at the Waste Management Phoenix Open before winning at Pebble. He began the year ranked No. 9 and has already shot up to No. 4.

What to know: Snedeker, who turned pro in 2007, has won five times on the PGA Tour. Three of those victories have come since Jan. 29, 2012. One was the 2012 Tour Championship, which won him the FedEx Cup and a $10 million prize.

The surprise

Richard Sterne

• Ranking: 55

• What he did last week: Sterne won the Joburg Open at 27-under, shooting rounds of 63, 65, 68 and 64 and had a seven-stroke margin over Charl Schwartzel.

• This year: Sterne, who plays on the European Tour and South Africa's Sunshine Tour, finished 2012 ranked 155th in the world. He placed second at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic to get to No. 94, and rose all the way to No. 55 after the Joburg Open win. He was ranked 743rd after last year's Joburg Open.

• What to know: The win in Johannesburg was Sterne's first in four years.

The headliner

Rory McIlroy

• Ranking: 1

• What he did last week: McIlroy took the weekend off. He's not entered in any tournament this weekend, either.

• This year: McIlroy has played in just one tournament in 2013, The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, and missed the cut, shooting back-to-back 75s. In fact, McIlroy has missed cuts in two of the last three tournaments he's played in, but the other was a win at the DP World Tour Championship.

• What to know: McIlroy made his stateside debut in Tucson in 2009 at Match Play. He advanced to the quarterfinals.

Looking at the field

Qualifying for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship closed Sunday and the rankings have been locked for next week's tournament at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain. Seedings can still change, but the field is set pending withdraws because of injuries. Phil Mickelson, ranked No. 10 in the world, is the only player in the top 64 to officially announce he won't participate. Here's a look at the top and bottom of the field.

Top five in

1. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland

2. Tiger Woods, United States

3. Luke Donald, England

4. Brandt Snedeker, United States

5. Justin Rose, England

Last five in

61. Richie Ramsay, Scotland

62. K.J. Choi, South Korea

63. Marcel Siem, Germany

64. Charles Howell III, United States

65. Shane Lowry, Ireland

If you go

• What: WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship

• Where: Golf Club at Dove Mountain

• When: Feb. 20-24

• Tickets: Buy at Bashas', call 520-571-0400 or go to: www.worldgolfchampionships .com/accenture-match-play-championship/tickets.html

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk

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