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Stenson to meet Thai Aphibarnrat in Match Play first round

Henrik Stenson of Sweden kisses his 2013 Race to Dubai trophy after winning the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai November 17, 2013. REUTE
Henrik Stenson of Sweden kisses his 2013 Race to Dubai trophy after winning the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai November 17, 2013. REUTE

(Reuters) - Swedish world number three Henrik Stenson was drawn on Sunday to play Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the first round of next week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at Dove Mountain in Marana, Arizona.

Stenson, who won the elite World Golf Championships (WGC) title in 2007, has been installed as the top seed in the absence of world number one Tiger Woods and Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia.

Three-times Match Play winner Woods, second-ranked Scott and American world number four Phil Mickelson have all opted not to play in the first of the year's four WGC events.

U.S. Open champion Justin Rose of England, the world number five, will take on American Scott Piercy in the opening round at Dove Mountain and sixth-ranked American Zach Johnson comes up against South African Richard Sterne.

Former world number one Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who is now ranked seventh, faces American Boo Weekley while defending champion Matt Kuchar of the U.S. will launch his campaign against Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.

Kuchar won last year's title with a 2&1 victory over fellow American Hunter Mahan in a wind-buffeted final.

With Woods, Scott and Mickelson notable absentees from the elite 64-player event, 65th-ranked Sterne, Piercy (66th) and Aphibarnrat (67th) were handed spots in the draw.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Ian Ransom)

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