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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 February, 2005, 04:19 GMT
Further concern at WGC-Match Play
Vijay Singh, whose first match is against Japan's Shingo Katayama
World number one Vijay Singh plays Japan's Shingo Katayama
Event chiefs at the WGC-Match Play in California insist the rain-delayed tournament will begin on Thursday, a day after the scheduled start.

"Conditions are getting a lot better," said tournament director Mark Russell.

"If it doesn't rain, which it's not supposed to, we'll start playing tomorrow. It would have been impossible to start on Wednesday."

But Australia's Stuart Appleby reckoned there was only a 25% chance of the course being playable on Thursday.

He said: "I walked on it today but it looks like it's in worse condition than yesterday, and yesterday was bad.

The Australian, who won the season-opening Mercedes Championship, added: "The course was extremely wet. Many holes out there were unplayable."

With the course soaked after days of record rainfall, officials pushed back Wednesday's scheduled start to Thursday and could be facing more delays if the weather refuses to co-operate.

The second and third rounds are due to be staged on Friday, with the quarter-finals and semi-finals on Saturday and the 36-hole final planned for Sunday.

Greenkeepers have had to work overtime in Carlsbad
Greenkeepers have had to work overtime on the La Costa course

Rain or shine, Tiger Woods said he was ready to begin his quest for an unprecedented third consecutive title and a return to the top of the world rankings.

The 29-year-old American has won his last 12 matches in this event, with his overall record comprising 20 victories and only three defeats.

Woods faces Zimbabwe's Nick Price in his opening match.

He said: "I don't know if we're going to play Thursday or Friday but whatever day we start I'll be ready to go.

"I'm playing a three-times major championship winner. It's going to be a good fight and it's going to be a lot of fun.

Among the Europeans is 2000 winner Darren Clarke, who plays fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell.

The other all-European clash is Spain's Sergio Garcia against Germany's Alex Cejka.


Tee times for Thursday's first round at La Costa Resort and Spa, Carlsbad, California
(All times GMT, seedings in brackets):

1525 (9) Davis Love (US) v (56) Chris Riley (US)
1534 (24) Lee Westwood (GB) v (41) Steve Flesch (US)
1543 (12) Darren Clarke (GB) v (53) Graeme McDowell (GB)
1552 (21) Todd Hamilton (US) v (44) Robert Allenby (Aus)
1601(10) Stuart Appleby (Aus) v (55) Joakim Haeggman (Swe)
1610 (23) Jim Furyk (US) v (42) Ian Poulter (GB)
1619 (11) Adam Scott (Aus) v (54) Trevor Immelman (SA)
1628 (22) Shigeki Maruyama (Jpn) v (43) David Howell (GB)
1637(8) Stewart Cink (US) v (57) Fred Funk (US)
1646 (25) KJ Choi (S Kor) v (40) Tom Lehman (US)
1655 (5) Mike Weir (Can) v (60) Kirk Triplett (US)
1704 (28) Tim Clark (SA) v (37) Craig Parry (Aus)
1713 (7) Padraig Harrington (Ire) v (58) Jeff Maggert (US)
1722 (26) Thomas Bjorn (Den) v (39) Rory Sabbatini (SA)
1731 (6) Sergio Garcia (Spa) v (59) Alex Cejka (Ger)
1740 (27) Scott Verplank (US) v (38) Jerry Kelly (US)
1749 (16) Chris DiMarco (US) v (49) Tim Herron (US)
1758 (17) Justin Leonard (US) v (48) John Daly (US)
1807 (13) Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) v (52) Rod Pampling (Aus)
1816 (20) Chad Campbell (US) v (45) Fredrik Jacobson (Swe)
1825 (15) Kenny Perry (US) v (50) Thomas Levet (Fra)
1834 (18) Luke Donald (GB) v (47) Zach Johnson (US)
1843(14) David Toms (US) v (51) Richard Green (Aus)
1852 (19) Stephen Ames (Can) v (46) Mark Hensby (Aus)
1901 (1) Vijay Singh (Fij) v (64) Shingo Katayama (Jpn)
1910 (32) Jonathan Kaye (US) v (33) Jay Haas (US)
1919 (4) Retief Goosen (SA) v (61) Stephen Leaney (US)
1928 (29) Peter Lonard (Aus) v (36) Fred Couples (US)
1937 (2) Tiger Woods (US) v (63) Nick Price (Zim)
1946 (31) Nick O'Hern (Aus) v (34) Charles Howell (US)
1955 (3) Phil Mickelson (US) v (62) Loren Roberts (US)
2004 (30) Angel Cabrera (Arg) v (35) Paul Casey (GB)




SEE ALSO
Woods wins Match Play title
29 Feb 04 |  Golf


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