By Andrew Robinson
The WGC Match Play Championship teed off at 2pm on Wednesday afternoon – 64 pros against each other in a head-to-head, club-wielding knockout as they battle towards the picking up the trophy and a rather sizeable chunk of the near $9 million (£5.7 million) prize fund.
The competitors are split in to four different brackets named after golfing legends Bobby Jones, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, with the winner of each section making it through to the semi-final and then final stages.
Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Louis Oosthuizen and Luke Donald have all been seeded as No 1 in their brackets and are high up Paddy Power’s list of likely winners.
However, with so many top golfers in action, the route to the final might not be as easy as anticipated. The draw has thrown up some potentially tricky ties for the four top seeds.
McIlroy could face hotshot Rickie Fowler in the second round if he overcomes compatriot Shane Lowry, while Woods might have to get past Francesco Molinari if he is successful against Charles Howell III.
Elsewhere, Justin Rose (22/1) is second seed in the Sam Snead bracket and he could face Oosthuizen if he makes it through to the final of his section.
Match-Play specialist Ian Poulter (22/1) appears to have a good draw until a potential meeting with Adam Scott (25/1) in the semi-final of his bracket.
Last year’s winner Hunter Mahan will be on the prowl again in 2013 and he can be backed at 25/1 to retain his title.
When it comes to giant killings, Woods might be up against it against Howell III if he is not on his game, but it would be difficult to see an in-form McIlroy losing against rank outsider Shane Lowry – who is available at 150/1 to win the tournament.
It is likely that the four top seeds will make it through to the second round, and then the brilliant unpredictability of golf really begins.