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Kuchar was the No. 21 seed last year. So was Hunter Mahan when he won the year before. Woods is the only player from among the top eight seeds to have won the Match Play Championship over the past 10 years.

Among the most compelling matches in the first round are Ian Poulter and Rickie Fowler, with similar games and style. At least they won’t have to bring ski jackets - the opening round last year was suspended by snow, and the weather is expected to be warm and sunny.

And then there’s Graeme McDowell and Gary Woodland, who are no strangers. They live at Lake Nona in Florida. They even flew out on the same plane together.

“We’ll have one Lake Nona player through to the second round - we know that much,” said Stenson, who also was on the plane. “You’re probably going to bump into one of your good friends at some stage when you’re playing a tournament like this, if you’re doing well. So it doesn’t really matter. It’s all to how you play. It’s good fun no matter what. You just go out there and try to do your best. If it’s your week, it’s your week.”

Stenson remembers winning in 2007 when he figured he was headed home on Wednesday. Zach Johnson had a birdie attempt to go 2 up with three holes to play, with Stenson in trouble. The Swede saved par, Johnson missed, Stenson birdied the next two holes and he was on his way.

“If I wouldn’t have made that up-and-down and he would have made his putt on 15, I wouldn’t have won that year,” Stenson said. “That’s how small the margins are here.”

The bracket is peculiar in one respect. Half of the matches Wednesday feature players from the United States against Europe - in a Ryder Cup year, no less. Among them are Dustin Johnson vs. Peter Hanson and Jordan Spieth vs. Pablo Larrazabal, who won this year at Abu Dhabi.

Does this week identify the best player?

“There’s no ‘yes’ and there’s no ‘no’ to that question, really. It’s a stupid question. Take it away,” Stenson said with a smile.

But there’s a big paycheck for the winner - $1.53 million to the winner, and even $48,000 just for showing up.