CARLSBAD, California (Ticker) — Tiger Woods is the top seed in golf’s version of the NCAA Basketball Tournament with a field of 64 players participating in the Match Play Championship beginning Wednesday at La Costa Resort and Spa.
Woods, who last played in this event here in 2000 and lost in the final to Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke, is looking forward to the head-to-head competition with the $1 million first prize.
“I thoroughly enjoy match play. I love match play,” Woods said. “I haven’t played in a couple of years. We go head-to-head in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. To be able to play against somebody starting out, then you advance, you look at your bracket, it’s pretty cool.”
The Match Play Championship is the only World Golf Championships tournament that Woods has failed to win. Jeff Maggert won the inaugural event here in 1999, followed by Clarke in 2000. Last year, Steve Stricker beat Pierre Fulke of Sweden, 2 and 1, in the 36-hole final at The Metropolitan Club in Australia.
Woods will be matched against Peter O’Malley, the 64th seeded player based on the official world golf rankings, on Wednesday. Woods is in the same bracket as eighth-seeded Davis Love III and Vijay Singh of Fiji.
Phil Mickelson, the second seed in the world rankings, will meet John Cook in the first round.
David Duval is seeded third and will play Kevin Sutherland on Wednesday. Duval is in the same bracket as sixth-seeded David Toms and Padraig Harrington of Ireland.
A total of 20 players from the European Tour are participating in the event, including No. 4 Sergio Garcia of Spain and fifth-seeded Ernie Els of South Africa. Garcia will meet Lee Janzen while Els opens against Jeff Sluman.
Stricker is No. 55 and will be matched against 10th-seeded Chris DiMarco in the first round.
Clarke is seeded 12th and will face Matt Gogel.
The La Costa Resort and Spa is a par-72 layout that measures 7,002 yards.
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