IRELAND’S TOP FOUR golfers will go head-to-head when the $8.5 million WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship tees off in Arizona this week.
World number one Rory McIlroy is the top seed in the 64-man bracket and faces Shane Lowry in Wednesday’s opening round.
And there is another all-Irish pairing with former Ryder Cup team-mates Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington pitted against each other in Dove Mountain.
All four Irishmen are grouped together in the Bobby Jones quarter of the draw, setting up the mouth-watering prospect of a clash in the last 16.
Elsewhere, world number two Tiger Woods will also face a familiar foe after he was drawn against fellow American and friend Charles Howell.
Lowry and Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson were outside the top 64 in the world when the field was set last week, but gained entry because Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker opted not to play.
Jacobson improved his seeding with his tie for third in the Northern Trust Open and will face South Africa’s reigning British Open champion Ernie Els in the first round.
World number three Luke Donald, who won the title in 2011 to launch a stellar year that saw him gain the world number one ranking and win both the European and US money titles, heads the Sam Snead quarter and will open against Germany’s Marcel Siem.
South African Louis Oosthuizen is the fourth overall seed and top of the Gary Player quarter and will open against Scotland’s Richie Ramsay.
McIlroy, who lost last year’s final to Hunter Mahan, will be making his US season debut. The 23-year-old missed the cut in his only start of his season so far, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, where he appeared to struggle with his new Nike clubs.
– Additional reporting by Niall Kelly