Well, it’s that time of year, the time where you hear the word “bracket” enough times to make you want to kill someone, thanks to ESPN and their never ending quest to be the most obnoxious sports programming entity in the universe.  So, getting the whole “bracket” thing out of the way now, before the onslaught comes, is quite welcome.  Here, we’re going to look at some of the more intriguing first round matchups, as some of them are pretty awesome.

One thing that’s kind of shocking is how highly ranked the European and Asian Tour players are compared to the stalwarts of the PGA.  It really doesn’t make sense to me how some dude who competes on the Asian Tours, like Lin Wen-Tang (AK’s first round opponent) can be a 14 seed when Boo Weekley, one of the premeir ballstrikers in the game is a 13 seed and a US Open winner in Angel Cabrera is a 15.  I understand that the Euro Tour guys have slightly nflated World Golf Rankings (Martin Kaymer is a 5 and Kenny Perry is only a 3, really?), but it’s hardly that big of a deal when compared  someone like Prayad Marksaeng, who, while successful, isn’t in the top 200 players worldwide, let alone the top 64.  Anyways…lets move on before I become an even uglier American.

5 Mike Weir vs. 12 Hunter Mahan: If you went on talent alone, Mahan would probably be the favorite here, and a near lock to get to the round of 8.  But golf isn’t about just talent, and Mike Weir is the embodiment of whatever intangibles there are in the sport.  The Canadian doesn’t have an 180 yard 8-iron in the bag, he can’t carry his drives 300+ yards, but what he can do is score and maximize his abilities, and there are few better players with a short iron or wedge approach shot.  While Mahan has multiple major potential, Weir is the guy who’s popping up on top 10’s every week and has the green jacket and their opposing styles should make for some interesting competition.

8 Ben Curtis vs. 9 Luke Donald: For as different of approaches as Weir and Mahan had, Curtis and Donald’s styles of games are nearly identical.  Neither is a long hitter or particularly aggressive, but what they lack in power and flair, they make up with accuracy and consistency.  I’m not going to lie…this is probably going to be one of the more boring matches of the first round, but if you’re exposing a kid to the game, this is the one to watch…expect fairways, greens and two putts and a match that goes down to the last hole.

2 Phil Mickelson vs. 15 Angel Cabrera: Talk about a shitty draw.  You’d think if you were a 2 seed, you’d get someone who’s relatively easy to beat, some first round fodder for the big dogs.  Instead, Phil gets a guy who’s won a major more recently than he has and held off Tiger and Furyk at the hardest course in the world, Oakmont.  Great.

Now, El Pato hasn’t been playing all that well since he won the 2007 US Open, but he’s always been a streaky player.  Cabrera probably has the length advantage, and if he gets hot with his irons, it could be over soon.  And while Phil is coming off a big win at Riviera, his game is still too inconsistent, though, the match play format should help him out as big numbers won’t kill you.  This matchup has my full attention.

4 Justin Rose vs. 13 Boo Weekley: How the hell is Justin Rose a 4 seed and Boo a 13?  Justin Rose is one of the most disappointing talents in the game, not doing much of anything in the US and being good for a first round lead in a major that goes horribly wrong once per year.  Meanwhile, Boo has won twice in two years and is considered one of the finest iron players in the game, despite his goofy image.  Seeing as how Boo played great in the Ryder Cup, and dispatched Sergio in the first round of last year’s Match Play, I think Rose is a heavy underdog here.

5 Adam Scott vs. 12 Sean O’Hair: Don’t let the rankings fool you, O’Hair, at this point, is the superior player.  Adam Scott is THE most disappointing player in all of golf…he simply does not care about the game, only the money, and it couldn’t be any more obvious at this point.

7 Alvaro Quiros vs. 10 Stephen Ames: Two guys who deserve a lot more ink than they get.  Quiros is a rising star on the European Tour, and a dude who can flat out LAUNCH it and already has a win at a desert course after smokin’ fools in Qatar.  9 & 8 Ames, is a 9 & 8 steady player who has 9 & 8 a lot of experience and has 9 & 8 contended on Sunday in a few 9 & 8 majors.  But then again…who can forget 9 & 8?

The Snead Bracket: Jim Furyk vs. Anders Hansen, Martin Kaymer vs. Stuart Appleby, Henrik Stenson vs. Davis Love III, KJ Choi vs. Oliver Wilson,  and Justin Leonard vs. Andres Romero are all phenomenal matches.  You know all of these players by now, and their foils couldn’t make for a better matchup, especially in the first round.  Whoever set this bracket up should get some sort of medal or trophy or something.

But for all those great matchups, the 1 Paddy vs. 16 Pat Perez match is the best.  If you went by reputation alone, Paddy would be the clear cut favorite…but not so fast, my friend (/Corso).  Perez is one of the best desert players in golf and Paddy isn’t nearly as good in ideal scoring conditions as he is when the weather is inclement.  Paddy is playing in Perez’ house when Perez is playing some solid golf, and if there’s one 1/16 matchup that stinks like upset, it’s this one.

1 Tiger Woods vs. 16 Brendan Jones: For the obvious reasons.