Reuters - Wed, 17 Feb 09:36:00 2010
Lee Westwood is the second seed at the £5.3 million Accenture Match Play Championship, but he is not expecting any easy matches.
That is understandable, considering the Briton has lost in the first or second round in all of his nine appearances in the World Golf Championships event.
Before he left home on Sunday, Westwood wryly told his family he did not know when he would be home.
"My kids said, 'when are you going to be back'? I said, 'historically Thursday, optimistically Monday'. They looked at me quizzically."
Westwood said he had never "carried any form into this event" but it's a different story this year, as he has finished second and third in his past two starts.
Still, he knows the vagaries of match play lead to numerous upsets, which is why he is not taking his first round match with 63rd seed Chris Wood for granted.
"There are no easy draws in this event." he said.
"Everybody's quite capable of shooting a 62 or 63, so you need a few bits of luck and a few breaks.
"You're going to play poorly one round this week, and hopefully when you do the other guy plays a bit worse.
"I enjoy match play, but I think you need more luck than in stroke play. If it was 36 holes, the seedings would have more of an effect, but over 18 holes anything can happen."
In the absence of Tiger Woods, who has not played since he decided to take a break from the game after reports of marriage infidelity surfaced last November, fellow American Steve Stricker is the top seed at Dove Mountain.
"My confidence level is much higher now than in 2001," Stricker, who was a surprise winner of the event nine years ago, told reporters ahead of his opening match against Ross McGowan.
"I'm sure he (McGowan) likes having me as a seed, rather than Tiger. I believe anybody in this field can beat any other player.
"It scares me a bit, to tell you the truth. You just never know what you're going to get or who you're going to run into."
Australian Geoff Ogilvy is the defending champion, although only seeded 10th.
Ogilvy has won twice and been runner-up once in the past four years but he is the first to admit he has had a bit of luck.
"I obviously enjoy coming to this tournament, because it's been good to me three out of the last four years, but there's an element that's slightly out of your control," said Ogilvy, who meets Swede Alexander Noren.
Perhaps the most intriguing first round clash pits Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa against Australian Michael Sim.
At 25, Sim is widely considered one of the game's brightest young prospects, but he is seven years older than Ishikawa.