LOS ANGELES -- Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will face some familiar players in the opening round of the Match Play Championship. McIlroy, the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland, is the No. 1 seed at Dove Mountain north of Tucson, Ariz. He will play Shane Lowry of Ireland, who got in when Phil Mickelson chose not to play. Woods is the No. 2 and will play Charles Howell III, the first time they have squared off in this format since Woods beat Howell in the quarterfinals of the 1996 U.S. Amateur. Luke Donald, who won the Match Play in 2011, is the No. 3 seed and opens against Marcel Siem of Germany. Former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa is the No. 4 seed and will play Richie Ramsay of Scotland. The tournament begins Wednesday. McIlroy, who lost in the championship match a year ago to Hunter Mahan, is the No. 1 seed for the first time. The top seeds have been eliminated in the first round twice in the last three years, with Luke Donald losing a year ago to Ernie Els and Steve Stricker falling to Ross McGowan in 2010. McIlroy and Lowry is not the only all-Irish match on Wednesday. Graeme McDowell, who missed the cut at Riviera in his first competition in two months, opens against Padraig Harrington, who also missed the cut in the Northern Trust Open. Harrington has lost in the first round six times, including the last three years. In another compelling first-round match, Adam Scott of Australia faces Tim Clark of South Africa, both good friends who use a broom-handled putter. Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker, No. 4 in the world, have decided not to play this year. Mickelson said his kids have a school holiday, while Snedeker wants to let his sore ribs recover. That meant the top 66 in the world ranking from last week were eligible for the first World Golf Championship of the year. The seeds were not determined until the latest world ranking was published Sunday night. Europe has 29 players in the field, with the United States having 21 players. The 64-man field is represented by 17 countries. Howell is among four players who started the year outside the top 100 in the world and still qualified. Of those four, he is the only player who has not won this year. Fredrik Jacobson, the last man in the field, was in line to play McIlroy until he tied for third in the Northern Trust Open. That meant he went from the No. 64 seed to No. 45. Mahan, trying to join Woods as the only back-to-back winners of this fickle tournament, opens with Matteo Manassero of Italy. Elite C.J. Spiller Jersey
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. The more recent spat is buried. With the regular season winding down, the Dallas Mavericks are tuning up nicely for the playoffs.NEW YORK -- The Braves are remembered for one of baseballs epic collapses. Too bad for Atlanta the playoffs werent expanded a year earlier. Negotiators for baseball players and owners are working toward an agreement to increase the post-season field to 10 teams this season. They had hoped to reach a deal by Thursday, but both sides said talks could continue if they needed additional time to deal with the details of adding a second wild-card team in each league. The sides spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the talks have not been public. If there had been additional wild-card teams last season, the Braves would have made the playoffs in the NL, while the Boston Red Sox would have qualified in the AL. Instead, each missed the post-season by a game, both going down with historic September swoons. "I wouldve taken it last year," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said Thursday. The sides have said for weeks a deal is likely. When players and owners signed their agreement for a new labour contract in November, the section covering the post-season established a March 1 goal for deciding whether the playoffs would increase by two teams for 2012 or 2013. The deal would establish a new one-game, wild-card round in each league between the teams with the best records who are not division winners, meaning a third-place team could win the World Series. Dont count on it, said Braves pitcher Tim Hudson. The wild-card winner would face a major disadvantage going through the rest of the playoffs, according to Hudson. Last season, St. Louis passed the Braves for the wild card on the final day and went on to capture the World Series. Hudson said it wouldve been much harder for the Cardinals or the Braves to advance if they had played an extra game against each other first. "The only good thing about it is one more team (in each league) gets in the playoffs," he said. "But it totally handicaps the wild-card team. Both teams will probably have to expend their best pitcher to win that game. Plus, its another day they have to use their bullpen. Even if you get by that one game, the chances of winning the next round are not very good." The Cardinals became the fifth wild-card team to win the World Series since the playoff field doubled in 1995, going from two division winners in each league to three division winners and a wild card. Other wild-card champions were the Florida Marlins in 1997 and 2003, Anaheim in 2002 and Boston in 2004. Adding two more playoffs teams this year has been complicated because the regular-season schedule was drafted last spring and summer, and the extra game has to be put in place in a manner that doesnt disrupt the World Series schedule. In a further complication, the sides reached a consensus that ties for division titles would be broken on the field with a tiebreaker game under the new format, and not by head-to-head record. Head-to-head record has been used since 1995 to determine first place if both teams are going to the post-season. But the sides decided with the start of a one-game, winner-take-aall wild-card round, the difference between first place and a wild-card berth is too important to decide with a formula and that a tiebreaker game should be played.dddddddddddd "Its our answer to March Madness where you have single elimination, I guess," agent Scott Boras said. Late last month, Commissioner Bud Selig said playoff expansion for this season was on track. "Clubs really want it. I dont think Ive ever seen an issue that the clubs want more than to have the extra wild card this year," he said. "Were working on dates right now. Thatll all take place. It looks to me like well have it because Ive told everybody we have to have it. Itll be exciting. One-game playoff -- it will start the playoffs in a very exciting manner." Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he favours an expanded post-season field, although hes not excited about a one-game playoff at the start. "Its possible that somebody could win a division with 84 wins and some other team could get 97 wins and finish behind a team that won 98 -- and play one game," he said. "So its never going to be perfect. But at the end of the day, Im for whatever the commissioner, and more importantly, whatever the fans want. Thats what I think is the best way to handle our game." Braves second baseman Dan Uggla echoed Leylands sentiments about a single playoff game, preferring a best-of-three format. "Im not a fan of it," Uggla said. "I dont think if two teams are good enough to make the playoffs that it should be decided by one game like that." According to the memorandum of agreement, the commissioners office was to give the players association a modified post-season schedule by Feb. 1. "The association shall have 30 days after receiving the modified 2012 post-season schedule from the office of the commissioner to determine whether it will grant its consent," the agreement states. "Such consent shall not be unreasonably withheld." As part of the labour deal, the Houston Astros will switch to the American League for 2013, creating two 15-team leagues with three divisions each. Players wanted the change to equalize the chances for making the playoffs for every division. Eight of 30 baseball teams have made the playoffs under the format that began in 1995, a year later than intended because of a strike that wiped out the end of the 94 season. The post-season included just the league winners from 1903-68, then increased to four teams in 1969 after the leagues split into divisions. In the NFL, 12 of 32 teams make the playoffs. In both the NBA and NHL, 16 of 30 teams advance to the post-season. Gonzalez, who considers himself a traditionalist, is willing to give the proposed new format a chance. At first, he wasnt a fan of the current wild-card system but now believes it has added excitement to the game. "That turned out to be a positive thing for baseball and kind of kept the hype going for some of those teams that were still in it in September," Gonzalez said. "Well see how it works." ' ' '