2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play: What the heck happened?

Stuart Franklin

The first round of the 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship was anything but ordinary. With so many top-seeded players leaving early, the underdogs take control.

Dustin Johnson probably sums up Thursday's opening round of the 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship the best with this tweet:

"Fun" might not be the best way to describe the proverbial bracket bloodbath that occurred Thursday. In addition to Johnson's loss to Alexander Noren 6&4, nearly 44 percent of the players moving on to the tournament's second round were underdogs in their opening match. That includes 50 percent of the top-seeded players losing in the first round, specifically Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

So what the heck are golf fans supposed to do now?

The truth is that most everyone loves a good old-fashioned underdog story. Well, those folks now have a plethora of options to cheer for, including the likable Shane Lowry (who booted Rory) and tour-veteran Charles Howell III (who tamed Tiger).

Fans who prefer the top-seeds still have Luke Donald and Louis Oosthuizen to watch, along with bracket two-seeds Justin Rose and Bubba Watson. Should Thursday be any indication of how this tournament will finish, however, those "big guns" are likely shaking in their boots -- and not because of the chilly Arizona weather.

What may be most frustrating will be chatter related to "fixing" match play. It's human nature for some fans -- and NBC executives -- to be upset that many of the biggest names in the tournament were sent packing early. There's no question that television viewership will take a nasty dip now that Tiger and Rory are gone; it happens in every tournament when they miss the cut. This fact should not be grounds for suggesting anything is "wrong" with the match play format, however.

In fact, this is exactly what the tournament format wants: lower-seeded players overcoming the odds and moving on to glory. While nobody stormed the court or tore down goalposts when Tiger lost to CH3, match play reminded all of us that golf can be a bitter game. A game that can build up a player to god-like prestige one moment, only to break him down due to an errant shot the next.

Let's make the best of this week, shall we?

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