Friday, 19 March 2010
The World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play celebrates its fifth birthday at La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California, this week with the most cosmopolitan field so far assembled, to the extent that the international representation of 35 players exceeds the US PGA Tour quota of 29 in the first round draw.

A total of 24 European Tour Members will contest the event, which began in 1999 with a victory for American Jeff Maggert at La Costa Resort and Spa and was followed by a first European success in 2000, Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke defeating Tiger Woods in the final at the same venue.

Steve Stricker of the United States won the first, and so far only, WGC-Accenture Match Play to be held outside the USA when he beat Sweden's Ryder Cup player, Pierre Fulke, in the final in Melbourne while Kevin Sutherland edged out Scott McCarron in an all-US final back at La Costa Resort and Spa last year.

There will be three all-European Tour meetings in the first round of the tournament, in which Woods is seeded Number One based on the Official World Golf Ranking and the in-form Ernie Els of South Africa is ranked second.

One of the most appetising tussles will be between Colin Montgomerie and Germany's Alex Cejka, while two-time Masters Tournament winner Bernhard Langer tackles Australian Adam Scott, who beat Langer 2 and 1 in the corresponding round 12 months ago.

Clarke faces an awkward first tie when he squares up to Tim Clark of South Africa while there are debuts in the Championship for two of England's most promising youngsters, Paul Casey and Justin Rose.

Casey - winner of the recent ANZ Championship - comes face to face with past US PGA Champion, Davis Love III, in the first round while Rose meets another Major Champion in David Duval, winner of the 2001 Open Golf Championship.

Sergio Garcia of Spain, the only player in the world to finish in the top ten in all four Major Championships in 2002, faces defending champion Sutherland while Scotland's Paul Lawrie meets Nick Price of Zimbabwe.

Woods, the World's Number One and a winner again on his return to competitive golf after injury in the Buick Invitational, lost to Australian Peter O'Malley in the first round 12 months ago, and this time that opportunity falls to late entry Carl Pettersson of Sweden, who replaced Fiji's Vijay Singh, sidelined with a rib injury.

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