Stephen Ames admits he does not like match play much. But that did not stop him hastily changing plans after being giving the chance to take on Tiger Woods tomorrow in the Accenture World Championship in San Diego.
His clubs were not able to get to La Costa quite so quickly, though. They had already been transported to Tucson for this week’s Chrysler Classic, but were due to be reunited with him today.
The Trinidad-born former European Tour player, now a Canadian citizen, hopes to add his name to the list of those who have knocked Woods out of the event - Jeff Maggert in the 1999 quarter-finals, Darren Clarke in the 2000 final, Peter O’Malley in the 2002 first round and Nick O’Hern in the second round last year.
He comes into the 64-man field following the withdrawal of Dane Thomas Bjorn with a neck problem.
Ames, whose wife Jodie is recovering fitness after having three-quarters of a lung removed last year following the discovery of cancer, was badly beaten seven and six by Australian Mark Hensby on the opening day 12 months ago, but was the higher seed then and hopes being the underdog can help him now.
“Anything can happen in match play – especially over only 18 holes,” he said.
He and Woods do have something in common. Neither made it through the Nissan Open last week.
The world number one withdrew at halfway because of ’flu symptoms after making the cut by the skin of his teeth, while Ames was disqualified for not teeing off in the second round.
His brother Robert, who works as his caddie and has also been his World Cup partner for Trinidad and Tobago, fell sick and no replacement could be found in time.
The other top three seeds are Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. Singh plays Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, Goosen meets England’s Paul Broadhurst and Bernhard Langer is the opponent for Els, who at the end at the Nissan Open on Sunday did not take the drive down the coast, but instead flew to Hawaii for some course design work.
The South African has not played the last two years and much prefers the 36-hole World Match Play at Wentworth. He has won that a record six times.
The whole draw has been revised with the late scratching of Bjorn. Ian Poulter now has to take on defending champion David Toms, while there are two all-European clashes – Colin Montgomerie against Niclas Fasth and Paul Casey against another Swede, Ryder Cup points-leader Henrik Stenson.
The event counts for both the American and European Ryder Cup qualifying races.