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Vijay Singh is top seed for Match Play Championship

Vijay Singh will be the No. 1 seed in the Match Play Championship, narrowly hanging on to the top spot in the world ranking despite missing the cut in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

The world ranking released Sunday night determines the 64-man field at the World Golf Championship, which starts Feb. 23 at La Costa Resort just north of San Diego.

Tiger Woods, the two-time defending champion in the Accenture Match Play Championship, will be the No. 2 seed. Woods can return to No. 1 in the world at Riviera this week in the Nissan Open, although that will not change the seedings for La Costa.

The top 65 are eligible for the $7.5 million tournament because Ernie Els (No. 3) has said he will not play.

Tour officials did not anticipate anyone else withdrawing, although players have until Friday to enter the tournament. The brackets will be final at 5 p.m. PST the Monday of Match Play.

With Els not playing, Phil Mickelson will be the third seed, and Retief Goosen will be No. 4. Assuming no one drops out, Singh would play Shingo Katayama in the first round, while Woods would face Nick Price.

``I think Match Play is going to be a wonderful event,'' Mickelson said Sunday evening after winning Pebble Beach for his second straight PGA Tour victory. ``I think there is a good chance this year a lot of the top guys will win the first few matches and square off later in the final rounds.''

Mickelson lost to Davis Love III in the quarterfinals last year.

Woods has been the No. 1 seed every year since the tournament began in 1999 except for 2001, when several top players decided not to fly to Australia when Match Play was the first tournament of the year.

Pebble Beach was the final tournament to qualify for the Match Play Championship, and some players were helped by not playing this week. Kirk Triplett was No. 65 going into the week, but moved up to No. 61.

Loren Roberts was No. 62, but decided to skip Pebble Beach because his daughter had a high school dance with their fathers. Besides, Roberts has never finished higher than 10th at Pebble. He only dropped one spot to No. 63, and likely will play Mickelson in the first round.

Goosen would play Stephen Leaney of Australia.

Jeff Maggert, who won the inaugural Match Play Championship in 1999 in a 38-hole final over Andrew Magee, returns for the first time since 2000.

Maggert also skipped Pebble Beach, believing it might cost him a trip to La Costa. The PGA Tour told him he would lose points this week from his runner-up finish last year at Pebble, but those points were reduced last week.

That would not have changed his schedule. Maggert's wife had twins in August, and he decided to skip Pebble as part of a travel itinerary that allows him to spend more time at home.

Ultimately, it worked out. Maggert went from No. 63 to No. 59, and probably will face Sergio Garcia.

Maggert is leaving his Houston home on Tuesday for the Nissan Open. He was happy to hear Sunday night that he was in the Match Play Championship.

``I'm going to have to pack some more clothes,'' he said


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