Third-Round matches up feature major champs, young guns

Third Round Preview – World Golf Championships – Accenture Match Play Championship – Dove Mountain Golf Club – Marana, Arizona –

Then there were 16 players remaining.

The World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship reaches the third-round play Friday with eight players set to advance to the Quarter-Finals. Although the top four seeds have been eliminated – again – in early rounds, there are plenty of firepower remaining including six major champions, the match play defending champion in Matt Kuchar and a host of upcoming stars including Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Harris English.

The top-ranked player in the field Henrik Stenson and a No. 1 seed lost to former Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen on Day Two. The victory for Oosthuizen sets up a match Friday with former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.

Top-seeds Rory McIroy (lost to English in 19 holes) and Justin Rose (lost to Ernie Els in 20 holes) said good-bye Thursday as well. FedEx Cup points leader Jimmy Walker fell to Rickie Fowler 1-UP, while Race To Dubai standings leader Thomas Bjorn dropped his match to Spieth 5&4.

While some heavyweights lost Thursday, several high-profile favorites, who were trending heading into this event, advanced. Hunter Mahan, Jason Day, Graeme McDowell, Kuchar and Simpson all survived and are looking for back-to-back Quarter-Final appearances.

Other top matches to watch Thursday including Matt Kuchar, the defending champion, against Ryan Moore teeing off at 10:32 .m. Both are former U.S. Amateur champions. Kuchar has a current longest win streak at seven wins. He is 16-3 overall at this event. Woods has the record for longest run at 13.

Bobby Jones Bracket:

  • 5th-seed Simpson vs. 8th-seed Oosthuizen: Webb beat Brandt Snedeker 4&3 in round two, while Oosty arrives with victories over Stenson and Nick Watney. Oosthuizen won the Volvo Golf Champions on the European Tour in January.
  • 2nd-seed Jason Day vs. 14th-seed George Coetzee: Day is the overall betting favorite remaining at a 9-to-1 selection at Station Casinos in Las Vegas. Coetzee earned a spot in this field by winning on the European Tour first time two weeks ago at the Joburg Open.

Ben Hogan Bracket:

  • 2nd-seed Garcia vs. 14th-seed Fowler: Garcia won in January at the European Tour’s Qatar Masters. He is ranked 8th in the Official World Golf Ranking. Fowler missed three straight cuts coming into match play, but has wins over Ian Poulter and Walker.
  • 9th-seed English vs. 5th-seed Jim Furyk: The former U.S. Open champion Furyk takes on one of the longest drivers in the game. English knocked off Lee Westwood and McIlroy – a pair of former No. 1s. Furyk was 4th in Driving Accuracy on the PGA Tour last year.

Gary Player Bracket:

  • 4th-seed Jason Dufner vs. 8th-seed Els: Dufner, the reigning PGA Championship winner, chipped in late Thursday to help him advance, while Els pulled a “rabbit out of a hat” to stop Rose and advance. Both players have managed comeback victories this week.
  • 3rd-seed Spieth vs. 2nd-seed Kuchar: The match of the day on paperwork, the 20-year-old takes on defending champion Kuch, who has an eight-match win streak in play. Kuchar halved 15 of 18 holes against Ryan Moore in round two and managed to win when it counted. Spieth beat European Tour contenders Bjorn and Pablo Larrazabal to reach the third round.

 Sam Snead Bracket: 

  • 8th-seed Mahan vs 4th-seed McDowell: This one pits past match play champions against each other. Mahan has back-to-back finals appearances here and a victory, while G-Mac won the Volvo Match Play title last year. G-Mac enters with a pair of unlikely comeback victories this week.
  • 3rd-seed Bubba Watson vs. 7th-seed Victor Dubuisson: Bubba enters off a victory at Riviera, but Victor is no push over. Dubuisson won the Turkish Airlines Open in November in a field that included Tiger Woods, Rose and Stenson. He’s been playing in the U.S. for a few weeks and finished T-13 at Pebble.

Other Golf News:

  • Anna Nordqvist (6-under overall) continues to lead the Honda LPGA Thailand. Some 22 players are within five shots of the lead. Nordqvist leads Sandra Gal, Julieta Granada and Azahara Munoz by a shot.
  • Garcia, the top-ranked player remaining in the field, was a 14-1 pick to start the week in Arizona. English is one of the longer shots still alive at 40-1 odds. Dufner was 50-1, while Furyk was 55-1 at the 7,800-yard layout.
  • Stacy Lewis shot 69 to make a move closer to the top in Thailand. Lewis sits 4-under and tied for 5th place alongside Michelle Wie. Last week’s champion Karrie Webb is T-7 and Lydia Ko is T-11.