It is easy to make a Case for a few but Paul is the Match
Paul Casey was the runner-up in the Accenture Match Play Championship last year as he went down to Geoff Ogilvy by 4&3. After finishing second at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Arizona Casey went on to have a great season before injury put an early end to his 2009 campaign. He has returned from injury this season and continues to improve with three top-11 finishes in four starts.
Casey is the second seed in the Sam Sneed Bracket and this arguably is the easiest of the four brackets. In the first round the Englishman takes on Canada's Stephen Ames and if he plays to his potential then Casey should at least reach the quarter-finals where he could potentially face Jim Furyk.
In addition to a favourable draw Casey has won 10 matches in his last three Match Plays so he looks a great bet at odds of 20/1 to go one better than last year.
Having said all of that about the world number seven, it is quite hard to ignore the claims of the defending champion Geoff Ogilvy. The Aussie has made four starts in this tournament and has won it twice plus he has a second place finish to his name.
However, he is in the ultra-competitive Gary Player bracket and he has recently been on paternity leave so he might be a tad rusty and there is no room for a luxury like that in the world of match play golf. Despite his great record in the event he does have a history of struggling to negotiate his way through the early rounds therefore I will be leaving the 14/1 about a repeat success alone.
If he manages to get through the early rounds and he displays the type of golf he played last year then it will be worth getting on him then but for me there are enough doubts to warrant not jumping on him straight away.
Available at the same odds as Ogilvy is the top-ranked player in the field, Steve Stricker. The recently-crowned new world number two is in great form this season. He won the Northern Trust Open, finished third in the Sony Open and was tied for 10th in the SBS Championship.
Stricker has also previously won the event, way back in 2001, although that year he took advantage of a weak field to emerge victorious.
Fellow American Chad Campbell could be value as he is avilable at a big price, 125/1. He has never lost a first or second round match in four starts in this event and despite facing Ben Hogan top-seed Martin Kaymer in the first round he could be some value at the triple-figure price, especially as the German does not have a great Match Play record.
Two Englishman that appeal are Lee Westwood and Luke Donald. The pair are available at odds of 16/1 and 45/1 respectively. The Race to Dubai winner Westwood is the second seed in the tournament, behind Stricker, he lost out in a play-off in the recent Dubai Desert Classic and the draw could have been kinder here, but he is in such good form he will fancy his chances against anyone.
Donald, like Casey, has returned from injury this season and has a great Match Play record. In five appearances he has reached at least the third round. It was actually injury last year that saw him concede his third-round match against Ernie Els. He has also had some good results recently on the PGA Tour including finishing as runner-up in the Northern Trust Open and in a tie for 16th at last week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
However, despite the value in a punt on Donald, Casey is my main pick to triumph in this year's Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.