Phil Mickelson could be about to do his bit for Ireland and help Shane Lowry clinch his debut in 64-man WGC-Accenture Match Play in Arizona later this month.
The left-hander won his 41st PGA Tour title in his third start of the season in Phoenix and with appearances planned in the this week’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am and next week’s Northern Trust Open, he’s ready to announce that he’s skipping Tucson for the third time in four years. A family holiday is the likely reason again this year.
Playing six events in a row would be highly unusual for a Mickelson, who has never been further than the quarter-finals in the WGC-Accenture Match Play.
At last one further withdrawal is also considered quite likely which means that Lowry, who is currently sitting uneasily in the hotseat at 64th in the world rankings, could afford to be passed by two players in the world rankings on Sunday night and still get into the field.
The bad news for Irish fans is that if he’s the 64th seed he will face pal and former Ireland team mate Rory McIlroy in the opening round. If he’s 63rd, he’ll take on world No 2 Tiger Woods.
Ranked 62nd in the world before missing the cut in the Dubai Desert Classic last week, Lowry said: “It’s not the end of the world if I don’t qualify for the match-play.”
Then he joked: “At least at this stage I’m not due to be drawn against playing Rory.”
Right now, Lowry would jump at the chance to take on McIlroy or even Woods. Or anyone at all.
As he said on Twitter today: “As long as I’m playing, I’ll be happy.”
Up to two dozen players have a mathematical chance of breaking into the world’s top 64 when the cut-off comes on Sunday night.
As Lowry sits out this week, world No 94 Richard Sterne woud be his biggest threat in the Joburg Open while Geoff Ogilvy (69th), Brendon de Jonge (71st) or Kevin Na (76th) are all capable of a big result at Pebble Beach.
Accenture Match Play Championship
- Dates: February 18-24, 2013
- Site: The Golf Club at Dove Mountain, Marana, Ariz.
- Format: Match play (hole-by-hole competition)
- Field: Top 64 available players based on the Official World Golf Ranking released Monday, February 11, 2012