McIlroy sees beauty and beast in Match Play
Marana (Arizona): For U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship can offer the players beauty and something of the beast because of the sheer lottery of its format.
Matchplay is much more unpredictable than strokeplay and because of the extraordinary depth in the global game, anyone in this week`s elite 64-man field is capable of winning the title.
Northern Irishman McIlroy has gone out in the second round of the World Golf Championships event the past two years and knows how difficult it is to come from behind over 18 holes.
"I always look forward to this event but I definitely prefer to play matchplay over 36 holes," the 22-year-old told reporters at Dove Mountain`s Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on Tuesday. "In 18 holes of golf anything can happen.
"You can be five or six under par and lose or you can play mediocre and win. I don`t mind losing a match if you don`t play well ... but when you feel like you have done all you can and still come up on the wrong side, it`s pretty tough to take.
"That`s the nature of this format, and that`s why everyone enjoys watching it," added McIlroy, who has been drawn to play South African George Coetzee in Wednesday`s opening round.
Britain`s Lee Westwood, the world number three, agreed.
"It`s a week I really enjoy," said the Englishman, who will face Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts on Wednesday. "Everybody looks forward to it being different to what`s a normal tournament structure.
"I`ve got a tough first-round match, but there are no easy ones. Nicolas is a good player ... he`s got a game suited to this course and this format."
Tiger Woods is a three-times winner of the event but he has also suffered early disappointment, losing at the first hurdle in 2002 and last year and going out in the second round in both 2005 and 2009.
"Anybody can beat anybody at this level," said the former world number one whose ranking has slipped to 20th. "That`s what makes it so interesting for us as players.
"It is a sprint, it is a boat race. You have to get off to quick starts. Generally if you get down early, two or three down, you rarely come back. It`s hard to make up ground when you`re only playing 18 holes.
"You don`t know who you`re going to get or how they`re playing. In either case you have to go out and make birdies," added Woods, who plays Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano in the first round.
"More crazy stuff happens in matchplay than will ever happen in a strokeplay tournament," said Australian Geoff Ogilvy, winner in 2006 and 2009.
"You`ll see guys chip in to go down to extra holes or you`ll see a guy win four holes in a row or hole three 30-footers in a row."
British world number one Luke Donald, McIlroy, Westwood and Germany`s Martin Kaymer are the top seeds in the four groups of 16 for this week`s event.
Donald will launch his campaign against South Africa`s triple major winner Ernie Els while world number four Kaymer takes on Australian Greg Chalmers in the first round.
For the fourth consecutive year, the elite event that brings together the world`s best players will be held on the 7,791-yard layout at Dove Mountain.