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Woods to face Beem in Match Play Championship

Tiger Woods might get another crack at Rich Beem, this time in the Match Play Championship.

Woods' four straight birdies left him one shot short of catching Beem in the 2002 PGA Championship. Now they probably will meet in the first round at the World Golf Championship event, which begins Feb. 25 at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad.

The world ranking published Monday determines the 64-man field for the Match Play Championship. Beem, winless since his surprising victory at Hazeltine, dropped from No. 50 to No. 64 and barely qualified for the $7 million tournament.

Players have until Friday to decide if they will play. Woods, the No. 1 seed every year since the Accenture Match Play Championship began in 1999, and Fred Couples are the only players who have not formally committed.

The brackets will not be final until Feb. 23.

The big winners Sunday were Brian Davis of England and Duffy Waldorf.

Davis won the ANZ Championship in Australia and moved from No. 71 to No. 54. Waldorf birdied the 72nd hole at the Buick Invitational and tied for fourth, moving him from No. 67 to No. 56.

Briny Baird and Shingo Katayama dropped out of the top 64. They would be next in line if anyone decides not to play or has to withdraw.

Woods won last year with his best performance of the season, defeating David Toms in the 36-hole final to become the only player to sweep the four World Golf Championships.

Unlike other sports involving seeds, anything goes at the Match Play Championship.

Woods is the only player seeded in the top 10 to have won the tournament. Two years ago, he was knocked out in the first round by unheralded Peter O'Malley of Australia.

Vijay Singh, who has moved closer to Woods in the ranking than anyone in the last five years, is the No. 2 seed and likely will play John Huston, a dangerous player in this format because he makes so many birdies.

Ernie Els is at No. 3 and would play resurgent Lee Westwood of England, while Davis Love III is No. 4 and would play Jeff Sluman.

Els had said he might skip the Match Play Championship to avoid traveling from South Africa to California for what could amount to one match. He plays the following week in Dubai.

But the Big Easy said on his Web site last week that he planned to play.

If no one withdraws, one of the more intriguing first-round matches would be Charles Howell III (No. 29) against Sergio Garcia (No. 36). They met in the second round two years ago, with Garcia winning 1-up.

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