Date: February 19, 2014
Author: Martin Blake /

Day eyes off WGC Match Play title

Jason Day might never have a better opportunity to ignite his climb up the world golf rankings than this week at Dove Mountain, Arizona, where the $9 million prize pool was insufficient to draw out any of Tiger Woods, Adam Scott or Phil Mickelson to play. The World Golf Championships Accenture matchplay begins tomorrow and while it remains a hot field since it is based on world rankings, Day will be one of the favorites in the absence of three of the top four. The Australian finished third at Dove Mountain last year to show that he has a feel for the course. At world No. 11, he can soar back into the top 10 with a strong showing this week. Day, the 26-year-old Queenslander, plays Denmark&aposs Thorbjorn Oleson tomorrow in the first round in what will be a tough opening. Oleson, 24, is a coming player on the world scene, ranked 60th in the world with a bullet. He has won a European Tour event (in 2012) and his start to the 2014 calendar year has been impressive — tied fifth in Dubai and tied-third in Qatar. The other Australian in the field is Marc Leishman, the Victorian whose world ranking (63) gets him into the matchplay for the first time. Leishman will have a difficult assignment against Spain&aposs Sergio Garcio in the first round tomorrow; alas his recent form has not been great despite his ranking being close to a career-high. Leishman, who played so well at the Masters last year, is close to the top-50 ranking that is such a golden ticket, with its automatic entry to all the majors and the World Golf Championship events. Perhaps this is the week for the man from Warrnambool. With Woods and Scott, the world&aposs top two, resting for the majors, Henrik Stenson is the top-ranked player in the matchplay field, and the favorite on the back of wins in the tour championships of Europe and the US last year. Stenson resumed playing recently but has just had two weeks off. “The success we had last year has kind of got some attention,&apos&apos he said. “I was just trying to get my game going again, and I felt like I moved in the right direction during those few weeks, even though I didn&apost play my best. I was maybe fishing around for feelings a little bit too much when I started the season. You&aposre coming off a good year and you remember how it felt when you were hitting good shots. And then I wasn&apost quite hitting them as well, and it&aposs easy to get tricked into looking for the feelings again instead of just looking at the basics and doing some solid work. #Television coverage of the matchplay title is on Fox Sports from 4am tomorrow