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Tiger's loss opens up bracket
By Curtis Strange
Special to ABC Sports Online

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- As we saw on the first day of the Accenture Match Play Championship, match play is match play. The first day was surprising for everyone with all the upsets, but the biggest surprise in the tournament's four-year history was Peter O'Malley's upset of Tiger Woods.

I still don't think if Tiger played well, he would have lost. He just didn't play very well. He still has to play reasonably well to win in a tournament like this.

O'Malley made some mistakes on the front nine. To beat Tiger, I thought he would have to play nearly flawless golf. He did play well on the backside,but Tiger just didn't play well. He didn't do much. He may have underestimated O'Malley, because I have never seen him play like that. He didn't make a birdie until the 16th hole.

John Cook's win over Phil Mickelson is not as big. John has been playing well all year, while Phil has not been. Cook is still a wonderful player. He's tough. I've known John for 20 years. Sometimes, he comes off as a nice guy, but he's a tough competitor.

I'm not sure what to think of David Duval's loss to Kevin Sutherland. David hasn't been playing well lately, but you still wouldn't expect Sutherland to beat him. But he's a professional.

When you have the top 64 players in the world, there's not much of a difference. Plus, the underdog has more to prove. He has less at stake, has everything to gain and not as much to lose. That happens. When the two opponents are reasonably close in talent, I am betting on the guy who wants it more.

In match play, every day you wake up is Sunday afternoon. You can't let up. Plus, there's a lot of luck in match play. Some people love it, and some people hate it. I have always said that if there was more match play on the Tour, people wouldn't like each other as much.

It will be interesting now. You have a lot of top players still around. But with Tiger out, the field is wide open, especially in his bracket, where Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els have the inside track. It's like Duke getting beat early -- you don't think they can be beat and then they lose early -- all of a sudden, it's wide open. Anyone who was in Tiger's bracket benefited.

Garcia is going to be tough to beat if he gets by his Thursday match with Charles Howell III, which will be one of the best pairings in the tournament. Both are 22 and both are going to be future superstars on the Tour. In match play, you gain momentum. Sergio's making his shots, and he's full of confidence.

Current form means so much. Els is playing really well and Tiger's loss sets up a potential pivotal match with Sergio in the fourth round.

The other match to watch on Thursday is Retief Goosen and Jose Maria Olazabal. Both are playing really well. Olazabal is getting more confidence every day.

Two-time U.S. Open winner Curtis Strange is a golf analyst for ABC Sports and a regular contributor to ABC Sports Online.  HELP |  ADVERTISER INFO |  CONTACT US |  TOOLS |  SITE MAP
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WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship bracket

Match Play Championship first-round results

Woods, top seeds get bounced in first round

Notebook: Olazabal wins Ryder rematch

 Tiger Woods is frustrated by his 2-and-1 first-round loss.
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

 Peter O'Malley recaps his first-round upset of Tiger Woods.
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

 Phil Mickelson and John Cook detail their match.
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1