World's toughest bracket challenge

February, 19, 2013
2/19/13
8:02
PM ET

AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are both 1-seeds in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, but history says that's no guarantee of success. Woods is the only player to win as a 1-seed.

The impossibility of picking a flawless NCAA Tournament bracket is well-documented. Mathematically speaking, the odds of pulling it off are more than nine quintillion to one.

But if you think predicting next month’s most famous bracket is difficult, give February’s a try. The WGC-Accenture Match Play begins Wednesday, and the numbers behind golf’s ‘bracketology’ read like this:

TOP SEEDS WILL GO DOWN EARLY
At least one 1-seed has lost in the 1st round each of the last seven years. Four times in the 14-year history of the event, multiple 1-seeds were defeated in the opening round.

16-seeds win their opening matches 28.6 percent of the time overall. Compare that to the Big Dance – where 16s are 0-104 in the round of 64 since 1985.

In the tourney, 15- and 16-seeds are 4-204 in the round of 64 during the modern era. In the WGC, the bottom two seeds have an opening-round win percentage of .339 (38-for-112).



9TH AND 10TH SEEDS ARE FAVORITES IN THE 1st ROUND
Historically speaking, 9- and 10-seeds win their opening-round match more than 55 percent of the time, making them slight favorites against their higher-seeded counterparts. Over the last three years of the match play, 9- and 10-seeds are 14-10 in the first round.

LOWER-SEEDED PLAYERS CAN MAKE A RUN
Since 1985, teams seeded 9th or lower in the Big Dance are 3-16 in the regional final round (Elite Eight) and beyond. In just the last five years in the WGC, three players seeded 9th or lower have won their round of eight match to advance to the semifinals. And since 2005, seven players seeded 9th or lower have advanced to the ‘final four.’

A 3-SEED WILL LOSE IN THE 1st ROUND
In 12 of 14 years, a No. 3 seed has lost his opening match. Six of those years, multiple 3-seeds lost in the first round.

AS MANY 1-SEEDS HAVE WON AS DOUBLE-DIGIT SEEDS
In the 14 years this event has been played, the only player to win the event as a 1-seed is Tiger Woods, doing so three times. Double-digit seeds have claimed just as many victories: Geoff Ogilvy in 2006 (13th), Steve Stricker in 2001 (14th) and Kevin Sutherland in 2002 (16th).

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