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Young lions of golf to tee it up at Match Play

Citizen Staff Writer



While fans and tournament officials wonder about the status of Tiger Woods for this year’s Accenture World Match Play Championship, there are other items of attention.

First is the new home, the spacious Ritz-Carlton at Dove Mountain course.

There’s also the new young lions of the sport who will be here: Anthony Kim, Rory McIlroy and, possibly, 17-year-old Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa.

“Definitely worth watching,” suggested two-time Match Play winner Geoff Ogilvy, speaking of the younger set Monday at the tournament’s media day.

Californian Kim, the magnetic Ryder Cup hero, is ranked No. 10 in the world. Northern Ireland’s McIlroy, 19 but looking 16, won his first European Tour title Sunday, the Dubai Desert Classic. He soared to No. 16 with the win.

Kim, 23, will bring a fiery presence to the tournament, said Ogilvy, who calls him “one of the best ball strikers already.” McIlroy has the charm to draw crowds and the poise to be a factor in the event.

“I’ve never actually played with Rory, but by all reports he’s an astonishing player at 19,” Ogilvy said.

As remarkable as Kim and McIlroy are, Ishikawa is off the charts in the wonder department.

“He’s won twice in Japan and he’s (only 17),” Ogilvy said. “The reports coming from Japan are he’s saving the Japanese Tour. He’s that good and he’s a new legend.”

Ishikawa is on the brink of the rankings at No. 66. The top 64 – as of Feb. 16 – will compete in the Match Play.

Accenture executive director Wade Dunagan calls the Match Play a “global summit” of golf.

Just seven of the top 20 and 17 of the top 64 are from the U.S. There are nine qualified from Australia, including No. 9 Ogilvy; seven each from England and South Africa; and reps from Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Fiji, India, Japan, Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and Thailand.

So will Woods play? He likely won’t decide until near the deadline, depending on how his surgical knee responds in the next few weeks.

“We have no idea yet,” Dunagan said, “but we’re hoping.”


When: Feb. 25-March 1

Where: Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain, Marana

Who: Top 64 players in the world

Tickets: 571-0400 or (866) 942-2672; www.worldgolfchampionships.com

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