How big of a roll is Lefty on right now? After winning two straight Tour events, he sat out the Nissan Open -- a move many other golfers probably wished they had made instead of suffering through the rain-shortened event. La Costa is just a short drive from Mickelson's home in the San Diego suburbs, so he'll be well-rested.
The rain-shortened Nissan Open prevented Tiger from making a weekend charge. He was in decent position after 36 holes, just four shots back. He dominates the Match Play events and will be the favorite at La Costa this week as the two-time defending champ. A win likely returns him to No. 1 in the World Rankings.
Will Vijay and Tiger, the top two seeds at the Match Play Championships, meet in Sunday's final? While Woods has been great at La Costa, Singh has failed to advance past the second round in the past five years. Vijay faces Japan's Shingo Katayama in the first round. That should be an easy win, but history suggests otherwise.
The world's top players are all at La Costa ... except for Els. And it's not like he has other commitments. Els is simply taking the week off. He plans to work on his game in preparation for the Dubai Desert Classic next week, but it's a shame he's not at the Match Play like everybody else.
The Northern Irishman was as disappointed as any golfer at the Nissan, finishing a shot out of the lead when the event was shortened to 36 holes. Clarke runs hot and cold at La Costa, sandwiching first-round losses in 1999 and 2002 with a win in 2000. He'll play fellow countryman and good friend Graeme McDowell in the first round.
The South African cooled off a little bit at the Nissan, tying for 29th. But don't be surprised if either he or Clarke make it to the semifinals, since neither Woods, Mickelson or Singh are in their bracket. But Clark has a tough first-round foe in Aussie Craig Parry, who won the Heineken Classic two weeks ago.
A record 10 Australians will be participating at La Costa and the best bet might be Appleby, although he'll need to play better than he did at the Nissan, especially with a disappointing 73 in the first round after his lengthy layoff. He also needs to improve his Match Play record -- he's suffered four first-round losses in six starts.
Irwin was breathing down Mark James' neck in the final round at the Champion Tour's ACE Group Classic in Florida. But his bid for back-to-back wins came up short as he finished in a tie for second. "I have to be pretty pleased with things," Irwin said: "There was a lot of quality golf this week for me."
It doesn't go down as an official Tour win. But someone had to claim the Nissan Open trophy, and Scott will certainly feel good when he puts the $864,000 check into his bank account. "It's been an odd week," Scott said. "But that's just how it is." In three Tour starts this season, Scott has a first, a fifth and a 20th.
Leonard might not make it out of the first round this week, but at least he'll be in an entertaining twosome, matched up against John Daly. Justin has played in every Match Play event at La Costa but has never made it past the third round. He comes off a so-so performance at the Nissan.
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