Match Play second-round preview

Updated: February 22, 2007, 12:28 PM ET
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

MARANA, Ariz. -- After one day at the Accenture Match Play Championship, half the field is headed home, as only 32 players remain. Let's break down each of Thursday's 16 second-round matches:

BOBBY JONES BRACKET
Matchup Analysis The smart money says ...
(1) Tiger Woods vs.
(8) Tim Clark
Want to have some fun? Check out the discrepancy in clubs these guys will be using for their approach shots. If Tiger's hitting wedge, Clark may be hitting 7- or 8-iron; if Tiger's hitting 7- or 8-iron, Clark may be hitting a 3- or 4-iron. Power is an awesome asset, huh? Clark was a surprise winner over Robert Allenby on Wednesday, considering he's been dealing with a recent neck injury and is making his 2007 PGA Tour debut this week. Will he go from surprise to absolute shocker? Could happen, but, well, we'd be pretty shocked.
(4) Nick O'Hern vs.
(12) Rory Sabbatini
Sabbatini somehow shot a 4-over 40 on the front nine Wednesday, made the turn 2-down to David Howell and still rallied to win the match. That sort of inconsistency won't fly against O'Hern. Don't look now, but O'Hern is quickly becoming one of the world's better match play performers. The Aussie lefty is a terrific putter and looked good in beating Lucas Glover, as he didn't make a bogey all day.
(6) K.J. Choi vs.
(3) Henrik Stenson
Not sure if Choi won his first-round match so much as his opponent, Carl Pettersson, lost it. Choi hit only 6 of 13 fairways and 11 of 17 greens -- numbers which look better than they are on a wide open, large-green course like this. Zach Johnson may not be the biggest name, but trust us, last year's third-place finisher is a tough out in this event. After disposing of him with birdies on two of the final three holes, Stenson is flying high entering Thursday.
(10) Aaron Baddeley vs.
(2) Luke Donald
Ah, the future of golf, right before our very eyes. Messrs. Garcia, Immelman, Ogilvy and Howell might have something to say about who the best under-30 player in the world is, but these two at least make the short list. Donald is the favorite -- as well he should be, considering the eight birdies in 17 holes he made on Wednesday -- but there's something about Arizona golf that appeals to Scottsdale resident Baddeley.

BEN HOGAN BRACKET
Matchup Analysis The smart money says ...
(1) Phil Mickelson vs.
(9) Justin Rose
Fun Phil stat of the day: In the five times he's reached the second round of this event, he's never lost. Could Thursday be Justin time? Rose has been one of the tour's hottest putters this season and could break Mickelson's Thursday streak with some more good work on the greens.
(12) Charles Howell III vs.
(4) Sergio Garcia
Ooh, perhaps we spoke too soon about the best matchup of young players. How 'bout we take Donald/Baddeley and Garcia/Howell, stick 'em in a four-ball match and really have some fun? Talk about a tough 12 seed. The seeding process was completed prior to last week's Nissan Open, which Howell won. So even though they're far apart on the bracket, Garcia (No. 12) is only four spots ahead of Howell (No. 16) on the Official World Golf Ranking.
(6) Chris DiMarco vs.
(3) Trevor Immelman
Everyone's favorite gritty, gutty bulldog-like competitor was up to his old tricks on Wednesday, as DiMarco got off to a quick start and never trailed against Brett Wetterich. Quick bit of trivia: Who was the last player to win a PGA Tour event with Tiger in the field? That would be Immelman, who did so at last year's final Western Open. DiMarco, for the record, has never won an event with Tiger in the field. Advantage: Immelman.
(7) Ian Poulter vs.
(15) Bradley Dredge
Just think: We're only five more match play wins from the headline, "Dredge Report uncovers major finding in the desert." OK, maybe not. But give us a break; we don't get to write many Bradley Dredge headlines. The second-lowest seed to win on Wednesday, it could be argued that Dredge's win over Els was the day's biggest upset. This guy's no fluke, though; he won three times on the Euro Tour last year.

GARY PLAYER BRACKET
Matchup Analysis The smart money says ...
(1) Jim Furyk vs.
(9) Chad Campbell
Furyk's got a pretty good cheering section going this week, as the University of Arizona alum has seen plenty of navy and red in the crowd. Never hurts to have some fans, especially in this format. The always-steady Campbell beat Woods in this event a year ago, so facing the world's second-ranked player shouldn't be as daunting a task. Even so, it'll take his best game to beat Furyk.
(5) David Toms vs.
(13) Ben Crane
Can someone explain to us how Crane, who was 58th on the PGA Tour money list a year ago and missed the cut in his first two events of '07, is ranked this high in the world? Doesn't seem to add up. Some may look at Toms' 5 and 4 win over Oberholser on Wednesday as just a product of his opponent's rustiness due to an injured back, but the numbers were great for the '05 Match Play champ: 10 of 11 fairways, 12 of 14 GIR, 21 putts.
(6) Stewart Cink vs.
(3) Padraig Harrington
Jeev Milkha Singh, we hardly knew ye. Cink dispensed of his unknown opponent -- well, unknown in these parts -- by a 3 and 2 score on Wednesday, as he didn't make a bogey all match. Against buddy Lee Westwood, Harrington birdied the 17th to square the match, then made eagle on the first extra hole to seal it. Coming off a big week at Riviera, the Irishman should continue to play great golf on Thursday.
(10) Stephen Ames vs.
(2) Vijay Singh
Whoa! How 'bout Stephen Ames? In beating Robert Karlsson, 8 and 7, on Wednesday, the guy whose name is synonymous with getting soundly beaten in match play nearly "Ames'd" his opponent, needing only 11 holes for the win. Not sure we can pick against anyone who just won 8 and 7, but Singh looked pretty good in beating a hot John Rollins in the first round. And here's an inside tip: Vijay's been putting in some extra time on the practice range this week. A true shocker, we know.

SAM SNEAD BRACKET
Matchup Analysis The smart money says ...
(16) Shaun Micheel vs.
(9) Rod Pampling
Micheel is quickly getting a rep as a giant killer. He defeated Woods in the first round of the HSBC at Wentworth last autumn and took Adam Scott, the world's third-ranked player, to three extra holes before winning on Wednesday. Well, if he can topple Woods and Scott, knocking off a guy like Pampling should be no big deal, right? Let's see if Micheel only beats the big names or if he can take out the other guys, too.
(5) Colin Montgomerie vs.
(4) Paul Casey
We'll continue mentioning it for as long as he's still here this week: Monty has never lost a Ryder Cup singles match. It's about time those one-on-one skills translated to a great result at this event. Casey needed all 18 holes to beat Weir on Wednesday, but he'll be in for a tougher match this time around. Speaking of Ryder Cups, think the Englishman can replicate his walk-off hole-in-one from last year's Saturday match?
(6) Jose Maria Olazabal vs.
(3) Geoff Ogilvy
If you're counting, that's now seven Match Play matches for Ogilvy and seven wins. The defending champ obviously likes this format and continues to thrive in it. A couple of cerebral players in this one, it'll be fun to watch them plot their way around the course. He who has the best game plan will win.
(10) Niclas Fasth vs.
(2) Retief Goosen
Fasth's nerves have got to be frayed a bit after a first-round match with Joe Durant that saw him trail on four different occasions before finally winning, 1-up. Goosen just quietly goes about his business at this event. His ball-striking was pure on Wednesday, hitting 13 of 14 greens while dominating his match with Scott Verplank.

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com.

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.

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