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Fans love it and advertisers agonize over it and television is often befuddled by it. So it is and the nature of the beast called match play. In most sports underdogs are heralded but golf doesn’t always follow that script. The first round of the Accenture Match Play delivered the greatest chance for upsets, like it or not. Lower seeds upending higher one as its referred to in golf, happened 14 times on Thursday, while two matches were carried over to Friday. Carl Pettersson, seeded 9th, beat Rickie Fowler, seeded 8, on the 19th hole, thus matching the number of “upsets” in 2012. In 2011, 14 opening round matches were won by the lower seed. In fact, since 1999, there have always been a double digit number of matches that have favored the lower seed on the opening round of 64. Match play is unpredictable, which is both good and bad depending on your vantage point.

No Tiger, Rory, Westwood, Keegan, Zach, DJ, Schwartzel, Els, Harrington or Adam Scott to look for in Marana, AZ. So it is but the beauty of the event is that crazy things happen that you don’t get at any other event throughout the year. “Really when you go out on a Thursday and Friday, generally you're trying to position yourself on the leaderboard to try to have a chance to win,” said Graeme McDowell. “You come out in this format, you could shoot 66 and go home. It's the ultimate penalty. You go out and face a guy who makes eight, nine, ten birdies, there's nothing you can do about it. You're packing your bags and you're going home. I've been on the wrong side of that a few times, especially around this golf course. It's a tough format.”

For some players they know going in what to expect. “You start hearing it on Monday, hey, you've got Tiger. And people ask, hey, who do you play in the first round? And you say Tiger.  And they say, oh,” said Charles Howell III. Conventional thinking projects the outcome is a foregone conclusion, which in turns offers fuel to the underdog’s fire. “He's the one under pressure, I've got nothing to lose, so let's have a go from here,” said Shane Lowry. “It was always going to be tough for him being the world No.1 no matter who he plays against, no matter if it's me or anyone else,” he added. “Every time Tiger Woods tees it up, he's a marked man and he's got the bulls eye on his back. And this tournament has proven with Nick O'Hern and Peter O'Malley and a couple other guys,” added Howell. “In a way it is freeing to play golf that way, but I knew I had to play really well just to have a chance coming down the end, and then you never know what's going to happen,”he added. “Anyone going out to play against Rory is going out to beat him because he's the best,” said Lowry. “It's not a match that I go into thinking, hey, I'm going to win this,” said Howell. “It's more a match of, hey, I need to play really good to hang in there with this guy. It's just myself and Tiger, arguably the greatest to ever live.”

The very essence of competition is one side trying to achieve their goal at the expense of the other’s. Sometimes surprises happen and you never know when the gun goes off, what to expect. “I'm not going to lie, we didn't play our best golf. But that's match play, and that's the way it is. He did hit a few ropey shots today coming in. But I mean, everyone hits bad shots at the end of the day. He's only human,” said Lowry. Handicapping or forecasting is risky even on the best of days and typically what appears on paper doesn’t happen in the real world.

“I'm probably the shortest player here this week, but that doesn't worry me. I'm used to that,” said Marcus Fraser, who knocked off Keegan Bradley. “I've been used to that for the last 11 years playing in Europe, I'm usually first to hit, so sometimes that's a good thing in match play, first to hit, try and stick one nice and close to put them under the pump. There is a positive to being short, and I might have found it in match play today. I know I'm one of the best putters in the game. My putting stats in Europe and Asia have proved that sort of the last 10 years. But that's the whole idea, every time I look at a putt I try and make it, and I was lucky that that one went in.” Not many would have taken that logic in calling for a Bradley upset.

“Could be said that it's the easiest tournament in the world to win, could also be said that it's one of the toughest because you've got to go and play six great rounds of golf,” McDowell summed up.