Welcome to GOLFstats.com! You are currently viewing one of our Preview and Picks post that we publish each week. We also publish special Performance Charts for the tournaments, analyzing results over the past 8 years, a special DraftKings Picks Post, analyzing what picks are the best this week for the DraftKings games, and we do a weekly Key Fantasy Stats Post detailing what stats are most important for this weeks tournament and course, and which players excel in those stats. Very useful!
Our data is updated daily. To access all this info, and so much more, just CLICK HERE to SIGN UP for GOLFstats!

BlogWGC-Dell Match Play Preview and Picks

WGC-Dell Match Play Championship

March 21st – 25th, 2018

Austin Country Club

Austin, TX

Par: 71 / Yardage: 7,108

Purse: $10 million

with $1,700,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Dustin Johnson

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

Just like last year, the field includes 70 of the top 64 in the latest Official World Rankings.  Those not playing are # 5 Justin Rose, #8 Rickie Fowler, #9 Brooks Koepka, #14 Henrik Stenson, #59 Adam Scott and 69 Joost Luiten.

The field includes 20 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2018.  Those top-25  players in the field are: #1 Justin Thomas, #2 Patton Kizzire, #3 Phil Mickelson, #4 Dustin Johnson, #5 Jon Rahm, #7 Brendan Steele, #8 Jason Day, #9 Tony Finau, #10 Paul Casey, #6 Pat Perez, #12 Chez Reavie, #13 Patrick Cantlay, #14 Gary Woodland, #15 Brian Harman, #17 Luke List, #18 Alex Noren, #21 Bubba Watson, #22 Marc Leishman, #24 Rory McIlroy and #25 Rickie Fowler.  The list of those not playing are #6 Justin Rose, #16 Austin Cook, #19 Bryson DeChambeau, #20 Chesson Hadley and #23 Ted Potter, Jr.

The field includes 5 past champions: Dustin Johnson (2017), Jason Day (2016 & ’14), Rory McIlory (2015), Matt Kuchar (2013) and Ian Poulter (2010).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship field is our performance chart listed by the average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Remember this event starts on Wednesday.

 

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship

Player Arnold Palmer Valspar Indian Open WGC Mexico Honda Classic Qatar Masters Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Super 6 Perth Phoenix Open Farmers Insurance Dubai Classic CareerBuilder Challenge
Phil Mickelson
(326.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(198)
DNP DNP T6
(40)
T2
(66.67)
DNP T5
(23.33)
T45
(1.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Justin Thomas
(279 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(150)
Win
(88)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP DNP T17
(11)
DNP DNP DNP
Paul Casey
(223 pts)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP T12
(57)
DNP DNP T49
(0.67)
T8
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(201 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(135)
T29
(14)
DNP T26
(16)
T26
(16)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(20)
DNP
Alex Noren
(193.67 pts)
T36
(14)
DNP DNP T14
(54)
3
(60)
DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP
Luke List
(189 pts)
T7
(55)
T16
(34)
DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP T26
(16)
DNP DNP T26
(8)
T12
(12.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
(183 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T5
(105)
T68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP
Adam Hadwin
(182.83 pts)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP T43
(2.33)
T35
(5)
DNP T3
(30)
Sergio Garcia
(179.83 pts)
DNP 4
(80)
DNP T7
(82.5)
T33
(11.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T32
(6)
DNP
Patrick Reed
(177.83 pts)
T7
(55)
T2
(100)
DNP T37
(19.5)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T17
(11)
T23
(9)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Dustin Johnson
(171.83 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(82.5)
DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Rory McIlroy
(168.67 pts)
Win
(132)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T59
(0)
DNP T20
(20)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP
Bubba Watson
(165.5 pts)
T66
(0)
DNP DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
T35
(10)
DNP T40
(3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Kevin Chappell
(164.67 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP DNP T30
(30)
DNP DNP T20
(20)
T8
(33.33)
DNP T31
(6.33)
DNP DNP T6
(20)
Tommy Fleetwood
(160 pts)
T26
(24)
DNP DNP T14
(54)
4
(53.33)
DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(20)
DNP
Tyrrell Hatton
(158.33 pts)
T69
(0)
DNP DNP T3
(135)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(30)
DNP
Jason Day
(138.67 pts)
T22
(28)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP
Jon Rahm
(125 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T20
(45)
DNP DNP DNP T26
(16)
DNP T11
(13)
T29
(7)
DNP Win
(44)
Brian Harman
(123 pts)
T54
(0)
DNP DNP T5
(105)
T33
(11.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T20
(10)
Webb Simpson
(117.5 pts)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP T37
(19.5)
T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
Shubhankar Sharma
(115.83 pts)
DNP DNP T7
(55)
T9
(67.5)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP
Branden Grace
(113 pts)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP T30
(30)
DNP DNP T37
(8.67)
T20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP
Tony Finau
(107.83 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T27
(34.5)
DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T6
(20)
DNP DNP
Kevin Na
(104 pts)
T36
(14)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
T20
(20)
DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP DNP T42
(2.67)
Chez Reavie
(94.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP DNP T73
(0)
T2
(66.67)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
Patrick Cantlay
(93.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T30
(30)
DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
T35
(10)
DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP
Brendan Steele
(92.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T20
(45)
DNP DNP T49
(0.67)
DNP DNP T3
(30)
T29
(7)
DNP T20
(10)
Marc Leishman
(90.83 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP DNP T37
(19.5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T31
(6.33)
T8
(16.67)
DNP DNP
Jordan Spieth
(90.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T14
(54)
DNP DNP T9
(30)
T20
(20)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Charley Hoffman
(86.67 pts)
T14
(36)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T20
(45)
DNP DNP T41
(6)
WD
(-3.33)
DNP T26
(8)
T35
(5)
DNP DNP
Xander Schauffele
(85.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(48)
DNP DNP T9
(30)
DNP DNP T17
(11)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Charles Howell III
(78 pts)
T14
(36)
T40
(10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(20)
DNP T20
(10)
Daniel Berger
(74.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(54)
T29
(14)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T11
(13)
DNP DNP DNP
Pat Perez
(68 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T20
(45)
DNP DNP T41
(6)
T35
(10)
DNP DNP DNP T29
(7)
DNP
Louis Oosthuizen
(68 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T16
(34)
DNP T30
(30)
T24
(17.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Zach Johnson
(68 pts)
T26
(24)
T16
(34)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
DNP DNP T20
(10)
Kyle Stanley
(63.5 pts)
T14
(36)
DNP DNP T25
(37.5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP
Keegan Bradley
(62.67 pts)
T26
(24)
T31
(19)
DNP DNP T49
(0.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T43
(2.33)
5
(23.33)
DNP DNP
Joost Luiten
(61.17 pts)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
T37
(19.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Francesco Molinari
(59.83 pts)
T26
(24)
DNP DNP T25
(37.5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T40
(3.33)
T45
(1.67)
DNP DNP
James Hahn
(59.33 pts)
T58
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T14
(24)
T26
(16)
DNP T11
(13)
T45
(1.67)
DNP T36
(4.67)
Thomas Pieters
(50.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T37
(19.5)
T13
(24.67)
DNP T68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T32
(6)
DNP
Patton Kizzire
(49.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T12
(57)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T31
(6.33)
DNP DNP T42
(2.67)
Matt Kuchar
(49.33 pts)
DNP T40
(10)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP DNP T26
(16)
T62
(0)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Jhonattan Vegas
(48 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T20
(45)
T72
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T11
(13)
Dylan Frittelli
(46 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T55
(0)
11
(26)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(20)
DNP
Cameron Smith
(44.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T46
(4)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP T48
(0.67)
T20
(10)
DNP DNP
Haotong Li
(44 pts)
T54
(0)
DNP DNP 63
(0)
DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP
Gary Woodland
(42.17 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T50
(1.5)
T49
(0.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP Win
(44)
T12
(12.67)
DNP DNP
Russell Henley
(37.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T58
(0)
T24
(17.33)
DNP DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship

Player Arnold Palmer Valspar Indian Open WGC Mexico Honda Classic Qatar Masters Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Super 6 Perth Phoenix Open Farmers Insurance Dubai Classic CareerBuilder Challenge
Si Woo Kim
(-11.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T62
(0)
T35
(5)
DNP DNP
Charl Schwartzel
(-6 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T49
(1)
DNP T48
(3)
DNP DNP T68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Yuta Ikeda
(-4 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T46
(6)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Ross Fisher
(-2.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T46
(6)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T45
(1.67)
DNP
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(6.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T30
(30)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Kevin Kisner
(8.5 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP 29
(31.5)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
Satoshi Kodaira
(9.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP 54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Hideki Matsuyama
(12 pts)
T49
(1)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
T12
(12.67)
DNP DNP
Ian Poulter
(12.33 pts)
T41
(9)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T52
(0)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP
Jason Dufner
(16.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T55
(0)
T17
(22)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
Yusaku Miyazato
(26 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(26)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Alexander Levy
(26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP
Bernd Wiesberger
(29.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T30
(30)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T32
(6)
DNP
Peter Uihlein
(36.5 pts)
T66
(0)
DNP DNP T37
(19.5)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T26
(16)
DNP DNP T52
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T17
(11)

How Player Rankings are Computed

**NOTE**

On Friday the field will be reduced to the top-16 and we will preview those to see who will win.  So join us Friday night for our weekend preview.

The Buzz:

One thing that is certain, it seems everyone is happy with the not only the course but the new format.  After taking it to several courses in ten years, Austin Country Club appears to be the perfect home for the Match Play.  The course may not be liked by 100% of the field like LaCosta was.  But only a small handful of players aren’t completely happy with Austin C.C.  As for the format, even though I miss the day to day shootout in which if you lose your match on Wednesday you go home only playing one day. But the players like the new round-robin in which they get to play at least three days.  One other problem is the time of year this event is being played.  It’s wedge two weeks after the WGC-Mexico and two weeks before the Masters, and many don’t like the timing.  Now we don’t know what the schedule will be like next year, but rumors have this event a week after the Players Championship and two weeks before the Masters.  When this event was played a week before the Players in 2015, the players liked the timing, so it should be fine next year.

Another problem solved is the sponsorship issue.  When Accenture left after the 2014 event, the tournament had a problem for the World Federation in securing another one.  Next was the venue, Dove Mountain was barely tolerable but did have a Ritz Carlton for the sponsors, but Tucson wasn’t the draw that many thought it would be.  The course wasn’t a favorite of many except for Ian Poulter, Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan who made that site an annuity for them.  It became a disadvantage for many, and even though they didn’t say it, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Adam Scott took a pass mainly because of the course.  Many felt that the event should be moved around so that it didn’t give a group of players an advantage each year but let’s face the one-ton gorilla, and that was the format.  For most, pure Match Play in which if you lose you go home was not a big winner with players, fans, TV, and the media.  The sight of half of your marquee names going home on Wednesday didn’t help matters either.  In the first 16 years of the tournament, you never had that one grand final with the number one ranked player against the number two.  Even with Tiger Woods making it to the final match four times, it was against Darren Clarke (who beat him), David Toms, Davis Love III and Stewart Cink.  Guess we should have seen this when the very first final match in 1999 pitted superstars, Jeff Maggert and Andrew Magee.

So in 2014 when Jason Day finally beat Victor Dubuisson on the fifth extra hole, it put an exclamation point onto this event.  Many felt that the event would not continue, which didn’t happen.  But with Accenture out of the picture, the contract with Dove Mountain finished it was time to reevaluate everything about the Match Play Championship.  It took a bit but a stop-gap sponsor in Cadillac was found, and the event moved dates to late April, and the venue was Harding Park in San Francisco.  That move was more of a way to appease the city of San Francisco who had a contract with the PGA Tour to play some events over an extended period.  Still Harding Park, which held the 2009 Presidents Cup and 2005 WGC-American Express Championship was a site that people could embrace.  But an essential element that those that ran the championship did was change the format.

It was still match play, but no more single elimination matches the first three days, the field was broken up into 16, four-player groups and over the first three days everyone played the other three men in their group, and the player with the best record in each group advanced to the Round of 16.  From there the event went back to single elimination match play, but the focus was that all 64 players were around three days so that fans and TV had three great days of action.

The format worked in 2015 after Friday’s play marquee names like Rickie Flower, Hideki Matsuyama, Charl Schwartzel, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Jim Furyk and Rory McIlroy were still playing.  McIlroy went on to win which helped verify that the format worked.  In 2016 they jiggled a bit the playoff format the first three days, but the three-day round robin was a big success as the weekend saw lot’s of marquee players with Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, with Day winning over British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.  The same last year when marquee names like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Paul Casey, Jon Rahm and Bubba Watson playing on the weekend, it was another winner.  Along with that, another winner was the course, Austin Country Club.

When the sun set that Sunday in San Francisco back in 2015, the Match Play Championship was brought back from the dead.  The crowds were good and enthusiastic, the weather was great, and the golf was spectacular, but the one negative was the course, Harding Park was very dull and not a great course for Match Play.  The biggest problem with the Match Play Championship was the previous four courses that held it along with Harding didn’t give the excitement and challenges to the championship.  Still, there was a lot of excitement with some of the changes that came out of San Francisco.  First was a new sponsor, as Dell computer would be the title sponsor, signing on through 2019.  Along with Dell, a new location and venue were named, Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas.

When announced not many folks knew about Austin Country Club other than legendary teaching professional Harvey Penick was the club’s resident instructor for over 70 years before his death in 1995.  Another thing was that the club, founded in 1899, built a new course in 1984 and hired Pete Dye to do the course.  Because the course is ultra private not many knew how fantastic the course was.  In 2015 they announced the course as the new home of the Match Play for the next four years, it closed for ten months as renovations were done to bring the course up to standards of the modern player.

The course held up and for two years has been a gem that many players love.  The tournament has risen in stature, but there is still one big problem.  Last year Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler didn’t play.  This year the same four along with Brooks Koepka, who is still injured, isn’t playing which is the only downer.  It’s hard to fathom that Stenson, who won this event in 2007 isn’t playing, but all of them say they aren’t playing mostly because of scheduling.  So hopefully when the schedule changes next year, they will have a perfect 64 of 64 attendance.

Other news, Rory wins:

Nice to see Rory McIlroy win, he had one of those great weeks, especially with the putter.  For the week McIlroy made 349 feet of putts as he was first in strokes gained-putting.  He didn’t 3 putt a single hole and had 40 one putt greens.  For the week he only missed two of 61 putts from inside ten feet, one of the putts missed was 8 feet, and the other was 9 feet.  Another key to putting was McIlroy made 8 of 13 putts from ten to 15 feet, so he was in the zone.

To think of the significant reverse McIlroy had.  After missing the cut at Valspar, he was 124th in strokes gained-putting.  In putts inside ten feet, McIlroy was 70th on tour and in putts from 10 to 15 feet he was 183rd.  McIlroy says that after he missed the cut at the Valspar, he went back to his home in Palm Beach Gardens and worked hard on his game.  He made some ailment changes but feels that a talk with Brad Faxon, one of the best putters in golf hit the right chord with him.  The conversation happened on Monday, and it was more of a psychology lesson than anything else.  But the key to the talk was that it cleared up some of the items he was thinking about while putting.  He was complicating things too much and was bogged down by technical and mechanical thoughts.  Faxon got him to realize that a lot of players were very unorthodox but still got things done.  As McIlroy said the objective was to get the ball into the hole, and that’s it.  And that is what he did and he didn’t struggle this week.  You also have to wonder what this means for the Match Play and more importantly the Masters in two weeks.  Rory couldn’t be in any better shape, with his game rounding out and just in time.  It will be interesting to see how he does at the Match Play.  So much of it is the luck of the draw, but if he can play like he did this week, he should have no problem winning the Match Play again and also be in serious contention at the Masters, a tournament that he wants to win to complete for the career grand slam.

Tiger still looks good despite the finish:

For the second straight week and third straight start Tiger Woods game look sharp and he came close this week.  But a poor drive at of bounds cost him a bogey on the 16th hole and with another bogey at 17 followed by a par at 18 he finished T-5th 8 back of Rory McIlroy.  Despite getting within a shot of McIlroy with a birdie at 13, Tiger played his final five holes in two over while Rory was five under in his final six holes.  So Tiger probably wasn’t going to win this week, but he was pleased with his performance not only this week but over the last five weeks.  He feels that his game is progressing and is looking forward to the Masters which will be his next start.  He knows that he hasn’t played in the Masters in three years and he still hasn’t played on bentgrass for two years.  But he is building up more energy, last week he was drained after 72 holes, so beat up that he took Monday off.  But this week he felt a bit fresher as he is building up the energy to get into contention and do the right things.  He plans on going to Augusta early, that probably means a trip this week to get himself accustomed to Augusta.  But the big news is that he is still healthy with no back pain, and even Tiger didn’t expect to play this week, and back in December he felt that it would be some time before he started to play good enough to contend which he now has done in his last three starts.

Tournament information:

This will be the 20th World Golf Championship – Dell Match Play championship.  Austin Country Club is the sixth different course to hold this championship. In 2015 TPC Harding Park held the event for one year. The previous home was the Golf Club at Dove Mountain for six years, and before that, the Gallery Golf Club held it for two years, before that the LaCosta Spa and Resort, which held the 1999, 2000, 2002 through 2006 events. In 2001 the Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia was the venue.

Course information:

  • Austin Country Club
  • Austin, Texas
  • 7,108 yards     Par 35-36–71
  • The course has a 75.2 rating and slope rating of 152 from the championship tees. Austin Country Club is a private club eight miles northwest of downtown Austin.  The club formed in 1899 and the first course was nine holes with sand greens.  It’s believed that the course and club were the first of its kind organized in Texas.  The course grew to 18 holes but in 1949 was deemed to be too small, so the club moved to East Austin and had Perry Maxwell build them a new course.  This would be the course where Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw would spend so many hours under the watchful eye of Harvey Penick. The Club remained at the Riverside Drive location until 1984, at which time the decision was made to move to the current Davenport Ranch location in the hills of west Austin.
  • Dye was chosen to create the new course and given 180 acres of diverse terrain that goes from golf in the hills weaving through canyons and woodlands and then juts out to the lowlands that have a river border one side of the course.  So there are different natural features to every one of the holes making it a delight.  You will see a touch of TPC at Sawgrass, Blackwolf Run, and Oak Tree Country Club to name some courses that have held professional events on them.
  • More importantly, the course isn’t very long and will have a lot of risk and reward type of shots, the kind that will make for great Match Play golf.  All of the par 5s will be reachable, and the 12th will be the favorite, as water from the river runs the final 150 yards on the left of the hole, goes right up along the left of the green and beyond the green.  So we will see a lot of drama as players decide to go for the green and the shot that will take to get on.  The next hole plays with water in front of the green and all along the left side.  Since the hole plays 317 yards, it will challenge players to take the driver out and go for it, the only problem the player has to hold a driver on the green which makes the shot almost impossible.   But players will still try to get it close.
  • As for the par 3s, all of them are great from the shortest the 145 yard, 17th to the longest, the 198 yard, 7th.  All have a safe shot to the middle of the green, but again for match play with the greens tucked away in front of water, bunkers, and ravines, it creates a perfect match play scenario.  That will be the key to the course; it’s ideal for match play.

A look at the 16 groups and who should advance to weekend play:

So the groups have been established through a random pick, there are 16 groups of four players in each group.  Each player goes 18 holes with the three other players in the group and the one with the best record moves to the round of 16.  For groups that are tied a stroke play, hole-by-hole playoff will determine the player who advances to the 16 player, single-elimination matches.  If a game is tied after 18 holes, it’s consider a halve, with play ending.

So here are the groups and their ranking with some thoughts on who will win each of the groups:

Group 1: Dustin Johnson (1), Kevin Kisner (32), Adam Hadwin (38), Bernd Wiesberger (52) … The defending champ gets a group in which anyone can beat him.  As for Johnson, he seems to love Austin C.C., in 12 matches he has only lost twice, in 2016 to Robert Streb in the first round and Louis Oosthuizen in the quarter-finals.  Now Johnson hasn’t played as well in January, February, and March this year as he did last year. Still, Johnson won at Kapalua and contended in his next four starts.  Johnson stumbled a bit in the final rounds at Pebble and Genesis, but he has been solid most of the year.  Can’t say the same for Kisner, he has missed the cut in three of his last four starts, and the WGC-Mexico didn’t have a cut.  Think he will get walked over by those in his group.  As for Hadwin, he is new in this event playing for the first time.  In the Presidents Cup last September in three matches he lost twice (once to Johnson & Matt Kuchar) but did halve his singles match with Jordan Spieth.  But for 2018 Hadwin has been solid with a T-3rd at the Career Builder, a T-6th at Genesis, T-9th at Mexico and T-12th at Valspar.  He will probably give Dustin a run for his money, but I still think Johnson will prevail.  As for Wiesberger, his record in the Match Play is terrible as he has never gotten out of group play and in 2014 lost in the first round.  He hasn’t played well in 2018, best finish being T-15th at Abu Dhabi, so I don’t see him being a problem

Group winner – Dustin Johnson

 

Group 2: Justin Thomas (2), Francesco Molinari (21), Patton Kizzire (48), Luke List (60) … Now this will be a very tough group. First Thomas has played terrible in his two Match Plays both at Austin C.C.  Last year he only won a single match and in 2016 lost all three of his matches.  In the Presidents Cup, he was 3-1-1 including a loss in singles to Hideki Matsuyama so Thomas may struggle in his three matches.  Now the same with Molinari, he has played seven times in the Match Play but in 12 matches only won twice.  His year has been ok, nothing spectacular, but nothing to be embarrassed over.  So I think he will continue the poor play in this event.  As for Kizzire, he did win at the Sony Open and in the 2016 Match Play has one win, one lost and two halved matches.  Still, I don’t like his chances.  But I do like the chances of Luke List, he has zero professional match play experience but has played well in his last three starts.  His first match will be against Thomas on Wednesday, and the winner of this match will probably win the group.  List will be looking for some redemption because three weeks ago Thomas beat List in a playoff at the Honda Classic.

Group winner – Luke List, yes I think he can beat Thomas and go on to beat his other two opponents.

 

Group 3: Jon Rahm (3), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28), Chez Reavie (43), Keegan Bradley (63) … Now I see Rahm tough in this grouping. First I don’t give Bradley much of a chance who in seven matches in this event only won once.   He hasn’t been bad for 2018; he was 2nd at the CIMB and 5th at the Farmers.  As for Reavie, he is playing for the first time in this event, he had back to back 2nds at Phoenix and Pebble but has struggled in his last three starts.  Now Aphibarnrat has played in the Match Play twice and won twice and lost twice.  Aphibarnrat has won three times over the previous three months, two of them in Asian development events but won the ISPS Handa World Super 8 which had weekend matches of match play which he won so you can’t discount him pulling an upset.  Still, I can’t see Rahm losing; last year he won six matches before he lost 1 down to Dustin in the finals.  Now Rahm’s game hasn’t been sharp since winning in Palm Springs, but still, he hasn’t played bad.  Can’t see him losing in this group.

Group winner – Jon Rahm

 

Group 4: Jordan Spieth (4), Patrick Reed (19), Haotong Li (34), Charl Schwartzel (49) ... Have to say this will be an exciting group, yes don’t see much from Li who has not played in this event, but he did win in January at Dubai but see him overpowered.  Now for Schwartzel, he has played in the Match Play nine times and in eight of those starts won at least once.  Now Schwartzel hasn’t played that great this year, missing the cut last week at the Palmer.  I see this group being settled on Friday as Reed will play Spieth. These two have partnered up together 12 times in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.  The fiery pair has been tough partners winning 8 of those matches, losing just once and halved three matches.  So look for fireworks in this match as I see Reed coming out ahead mostly because he has played great in his last two starts, at the Palmer he putted very well.

Group winner – Patrick Reed

 

Group 5: Hideki Matsuyama (4), Patrick Cantlay (30), Cameron Smith (46), Yusaku Miyazato (53) … On paper, Matsuyama should be a big favorite when you realize that Cantlay, Smith, and Miyazato have never played in this event.  But don’t disregard Cantlay’s match play experience as he lost in the finals in both the U.S. Amateur and Western Amateur.  Cantlay also played in the Walker Cup in 2011 and had a 2-1-1 record.  One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that since rejoining the PGA Tour in 2017 after being injured, Cantlay has played 19 times and not missed a cut.  So he will be tough.  I also think that Cameron Smith will be tough, but he has no match play experience and has to play Cantlay in the first round.  Now all of Japan will be watching on Wednesday as Miyazato faces Matsuyama and you know that Hideki will have a lot of respect for his fellow countryman and should win.  But this group will get decided on Friday as Hideki faces Cantlay and I see Cantly coming out ahead.

Group winner – Patrick Cantlay

 

Group 6: Rory McIlroy (6), Brian Harman (18), Jhonattan Vegas (44), Peter Uihlein (57) … This group will be straightforward to pick, fresh from his win at the Palmer I see McIlroy rolling into Austin with a lot of confidence, something that you can’t say from Vegas and Uihlein who are not playing well.  Now Harman can win this even though he has no match play experience, but he will have to do it the hard way.  This group will get decided on Friday as Harman will face McIlroy and I can’t see Rory losing.

Group winner – Rory McIlroy

 

Group 7: Sergio Garcia (7), Xander Schauffele (20), Dylan Frittelli (41), Shubhankar Sharma (62) … This will be an exciting group, first on paper Garcia looks to shine when you consider that the three others are rookies in this event.  What will be interesting to see is the match on Thursday between Garcia and Frittelli, both have homes in Austin, and Frittelli won an NCAA title with the University of Texas.  Garcia also has to respect both Schauffele and Sharma. Xander has played well of late and does have match play experience winning the 2014 California State Amateur and was runner-up later that summer at the Western Amateur.  We also have seen how Sharma is playing, having the 54 hole lead in Mexico and he is hungry wanting to get to the weekend which will help him gain membership to the PGA Tour for the rest of the year.  Garcia does have a lot happening in his life right now with the birth of his daughter last week, and even though he has played well of late, Sergio has the knack of losing when you least expect him to.  I see this going down to Friday in the match between Garcia and Schauffele with Xander pulling off an upset on Garcia.

Group winner – Xander Schauffele

 

Group 8: Jason Day (8), Louis Oosthuizen (25), Jason Dufner (42), James Hahn (56) … Lots of interest in this group because you will see a grudge match on Friday between Day and Oosthuizen.  They faced each other in the finals in 2016, the first year it was held at Austin C.C. and Day got the best of Oosthuizen 5 & 4.  As for Dufner and Hahn, Dufner has struggled at Austin C.C. only winning one of six matches.  As for Hahn, he is a tournament rookie, so you can see that it will come down to Friday with Day and Oosthuizen butting heads again and I see a repeat win for Jason.

Group winner – Jason Day.

 

Group 9: Tommy Fleetwood (9), Daniel Berger (26), Kevin Chappell (33), Ian Poulter (58) … An interesting group who all has experience in this event.  The one with the best record is Poulter, who in 2010 won this event and also won a match play event on the European Tour.  Do we also need to remind you that his Ryder Cup record is supreme winning 12 matches which just 4 losses and 2 halves.  But making his Ryder Cup even better is the fact that he has won four singles and halve the other won.  As for Berger and Chappell, they haven’t done well in this event at Austin, but both have Presidents Cup experience last September in New Jersey.  But I don’t see any of these three beating Fleetwood, who may not have gotten out of group play last year, but he did make it to the quarter-finals in 2015.  He also has played great in 2018, including a win at Abu Dhabi so I can’t see Fleetwood getting beat in this group.

Group winner – Tommy Fleetwood

 

Group 10: Paul Casey (10), Matthew Fitzpatrick (31), Kyle Stanley (45), Russell Henley (51) …This is probably the easiest group to call; I can’t see anyone beating Casey.  Not only has he been runner-up twice in this event, but he has also made it to the weekend six times.  On top of that, he won two weeks ago at Valspar; he is in a different league right now than Fitzpatrick, Stanley, and Henley.

Group winner – Paul Casey 

 

Group 11: Marc Leishman (11), Branden Grace (23), Bubba Watson (35), Julian Suri (64) …Don’t see Suri being much of a challenge; he was lucky to make it into the field as he got in after Joost Luiten pulled out. As for Grace, he did go 5-0-0 in the 2015 Presidents Cup.  But I see this coming down to the Thursday match between Leishman and Watson.  Both have a lot of match play experience, but I give the nod to Watson who faced Leishman twice in the Presidents Cup beating him once and halving another match. Watson has also made it to the weekend four times in seven Match Play starts, so that is another reason for him winning this group.

Group winner – Bubba Watson 

 

Group 12: Tyrrell Hatton (12), Charley Hoffman (22), Brendan Steele (36), Alex Levy (55) … This group could be the hardest one to call. Frankly, it will take a coin toss to determine the winner.  All four have played in this event with not great results.  Hoffman has played three times, winning three times in seven matches.  Levy struggled last year losing all three games, Steele played last year and did beat Tommy Fleetwood, but didn’t make it out of group play.  Hatton did win two matches last year but lost in the playoff for getting to the weekend.  Of the four Hatton is playing the best, but Levy has had a great year but hasn’t played in five weeks.  I see the Hatton/Levy match on Wednesday determine who wins this group, of the two Europeans I have a funny feeling that Levy will win.

Group winner – Alex Levy

 

Group 13: Alex Noren (13), Tony Finau (29), Thomas Pieters (39), Kevin Na (61) … Lots of choices in this group, Finau and Pieters hit it a long way, but Na and Noren have made it to the weekend.  Those two face off on Wednesday, and I see Noren winning and then going on to beat Finau and Pieters.

Group winner – Alex Noren

 

Group 14: Phil Mickelson (14), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (17), Satoshi Kodaira (40), Charles Howell III (59) … On paper this is an easy choice, Mickelson comes into this event with a lot of momentum with his WGC win in Mexico.  Not much is know of Kodaira, but he has won six times in Japan, the last coming in November at the Taiheiyo Masters.  But still, he will be outmatched this week as both Cabrera-Bello and Howell will be tough.  Have to watch Howell, he beat Tiger in 2013, and as also beaten Sergio Garcia, so he is sneaky.  Now Howell has played Mickelson, losing to him in 2006 and Howell did beat Cabrera-Bello not once but twice last year.  He defeated him in their match and then beat him in the group playoff, so Cabrera-Bello will be looking to return the favor.  But I can’t see Mickelson losing who did get to the quarter-finals last year.  But look at Mickelson’s Wednesday match against Howell and his Friday match with Cabrera-Bello which could determine who wins the group. But I think Mickelson will do fine.

Group winner – Phil Mickelson

 

Group 15: Pat Perez (15), Gary Woodland (24), Webb Simpson (37), Si Woo Kim (50) … Another tough group to pick, Simpson has the most experience in this event, but I see Woodland and Perez being tough to beat.  Kim hasn’t played well since finishing 10th at the Sentry T of C, so I can’t see him winning.  Woodland is in the same boat, yes he won at Phoenix, but has struggled since and I can see the struggle continuing.  So I see the Thursday match between Simpson and Perez deciding this, and I think Simpson is playing the best and will win his group.

Group winner – Webb Simpson

 

Group 16: Matt Kuchar (16), Ross Fisher (27), Yuta Ikeda (47) Zach Johnson (54) … I don’t see Ikeda doing much damage, but Fisher could do well.  He made it to the quarter-finals last year and finished 4th in Arizona in 2009.  He has been up and down this year finishing 2nd in Abu Dhabi but has struggled since.  Kuchar has had a lot of experience in this event, winning in 2013 and making it to the weekend five times in eight starts.  Johnson finished 3rd at La Costa in 2006 but struggled when played in Arizona, but since moving to Austin has done well making it to the round of 16 in both years in Texas.  The luck of the draw see’s both Kuchar and Johnson playing in the same group for the second year in a row, last year Johnson did beat Kuchar.  Again while most see this group between Kuchar and Johnson, I can see Fisher pulling off an upset by beating the both of them and winning this group.

Group winner – Ross Fisher

DraftKings with Match Play games:

Last year was very disappointed that DraftKings didn’t have a Match Play game.  But the good news is that this year they have won, and it will be stimulating.  The game is based on winning holes and that your player goes to Sunday.  Just like the regular tournament play, you know that to win you have to get all six players to the weekend and the way DraftKings has done this game, the same is correct.

Here is how you win or lose points.  If you win a hole, you get 3 points.  If you halve, you get 0.75 points.  If you lose a hole, they subtract 0.75 points.  Now since matches end early, they have a bonus for a player that wins the match. They will receive 1.6 points for each hole not played, so that is an essential element to winning.  They also will give 5 points for matches won, and 3 points for a match halved.  There is also a bonus of 5 points for winning 3 consecutive holes won (Max of 1 per round) and the most significant bonus of 7.5 points if you can play a complete match without losing a hole.  Now for the round of 16 (weekend play), playoff holes will count toward the scoring, and the consolation match on Sunday will also get points.  So the big plum comes if out of your six picks, four of them play on Sunday.

I love this game, and it should create a lot of buzz.  It’s different in which you will have to figure out which players make it to the weekend.  For each player that doesn’t win their group (remember there are 16 groups Wed-Fri), you will be at a significant disadvantage.  Again pick the 16 that play the weekend, your chances are a lot better.

DraftKings Tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

  • Dustin Johnson – $11,800
  • Justin Thomas – $11,400
  • Jon Rahm – $10,800
  • Jordan Spieth – $10,500
  • Rory McIlroy – $10,000
  • Tommy Fleetwood – $9,700
  • Phil Mickelson – $9,300
  • Jason Day- $9,200
  • Hideki Matsuyama – $9,000
  • Sergio Garcia- $8,900
  • Paul Casey – $8,800

We have to look at this differently than we do with a regular event.  The most important thing that you can do is pick six guys that make it to the weekend.  As you can see in the NCAA Championship, going into the top-16, there is a lot of carnage with Virginia, Xavier, North Carolina, Cincinnati, Tennessee and Michigan State all losing.  So does that mean that Rory, Dustin, Phil and Jordan could lose, yes but very unlikely.  But there will be favorites that lose so be careful in your picks.  So the most important thing that you have to do is look at the 16 groups and pick your winners, kind of like what I did above.  When you have your 16 winners, it’s now down to doing the math work to try and get as many top players along with players that aren’t costly.  It’s also important to look at your 16 and pick which players will have the easiest group.

My first choice is Paul Casey at $8,800; I think his group was the easiest one to pick.  After that I see Rory winning easily along with Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood and Phil Mickelson.  These six would be great picks, but the math with them costing a total of $60,400 doesn’t work.  One good thing working for you, since DraftKings determined the prices on Saturday, you can get Rory McIlroy at the low price of $10,000, so that is my first pick.  I also see that Paul Casey has probably the easiest grouping, so his $8,800 is also low.  Dustin Johnson is expensive at $11,800, and I don’t think Justin Thomas will win his group, so you don’t want him.  Jon Rahm is also a good pick, but again expensive at $10,800.  I would avoid Jordan Spieth because he is in a tough group with Patrick Reed and Charl Schwartzel.  Jason Day at $9,200 is an excellent choice since he should win his group. Many will take Hideki Matsuyama at $9,000, but I would avoid him because I think Patrick Cantlay will win that group.  Talking about Cantlay, he is an excellent choice at $7,400 along with Xander Schauffele at $7,400.  The prices are right but remember this; these two are a gamble being in groups with great players like Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia.  Now group 12 is a toss-up between Tyrrell Hatton who is at $8,500, but I like Alex Levy who is very cheap at $6,500.  Now the problem with Levy is that he may make it to the weekend, but after that, he will probably lose.  But remember this, if you can get six players getting to the weekend, the rest is easy, and you will win money.  Some other bargains are Patrick Reed at $7,700, but again he is a gamble because you’re saying that he will beat Jordan Spieth.  One good bet is Bubba Watson at $8,200 and Ross Fisher is at $7,400 but remember that you’re saying that Fisher will beat both Kuchar and Zach Johnson.  Another gamble is Luke List, again a low price of $7,300 but you’re saying that he will beat the number 2 player in the world, Justin Thomas.

But as you can see, this week will be a lot of fun because in reality, if you look at the top-15 players in the world, only four or five of them will make it to the weekend.  So if you can find some great upsets like List, Reed and Cantlay you can do very well.

One last thing, one of my favorite games is the weekend games, and hopefully, DraftKings will have a weekend game for us to pick six of the 16 players left.

So happy picking.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship:

Key stat for the winner:

On the PGA Tour, some players look more at a big check instead of playing to win.  These players are dangerous in match play because they have only one thing to think about, winning.  So in some respects this year’s 15 Dell rookies (Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Dylan Frittell, Adam Hadwin, James Hahn, Li Haotong, Brian Harman, Satoshi Kodaira, Luke List, Yusaku Miyazato, Chez Reavie, Xander Schauffele, Shubhankar Sharma, Cameron Smith and Peter Uihlein) have just as much of a chance as Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson or Phil Mickelson.  Just look at what happened last year, tournament rookies Hideto Tanihara and Jon Rahm made it to Sunday, with Rahm going to the finals against Dustin Johnson.  There are other factors, just look at what happened to Tiger Woods in 2002 when he got beat in the first round by Peter O’Malley or even in 2013 when Charles Howell III beat him on Wednesday.  So don’t think that just because Dustin Johnson, who is the number one draw is a better player than the 64th draw Luke List.  When you see some pairings of a superstar against a lesser name player like Shubhankar Sharma, Li Haotong or a Yusaku Miyazato on paper the match looks like David versus Goliath.  We all know what happened in that story, it’s happened before and will happen in years to come.

Here are some more key stats to look for this week:

  • We have a limited history of players at Austin Country Club.  Now Jordan Spieth has played the course more than anybody else, but Jason Dufner and Jimmy Walker have also played it.  Both have played it for years in all kinds of weather, so they know the extreme of it.  Still, everyone starts with a clean slate on Wednesday.
  • Match play is a rare format on the PGA Tour.  Even though it’s the game that is played regularly in golf clubs around the world, it’s not played that much on the PGA Tour.  The secret to winning in match play is not playing the best, but, more importantly, avoiding doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.  In a lot of matches, someone could be striking the ball perfectly and putting well while his opponent could be hitting it all around the lot, missing greens, but chipping in for halves on holes.  Before you know it, that match could come down to the final hole, and the player that isn’t doing the best could chip in and win a match.  It happens all the time.  Remember a score doesn’t mean anything in match play.
  • This is also a different format.  Just because you lose that first round match on the 18th hole doesn’t mean that you are on a plane home that night.  You still have two more matches and could all of a sudden find your game and find yourself winning your group.  So it’s vital to take each match at a time and not worry if you’re playing poorly one day.  A perfect example of this was last year when Bill Haas lost his first round match to Russell Knox but was still able to win his group and going onto the semi-finals before losing to Jon Rahm (but he did win the consolation match).  Just remember this, not only did Bill Haas lose a match, but Ross Fisher, Charles Howell III, Marc Leishman and Kevin Na also lost a match in their group but still moved on winning their group.

So anything can happen in this format.

  • A couple of things that can help you pick a winner is to look at those with good match play records.  Past winners of the U.S. Amateur like Peter Uihlein and Phil Mickelson know how to win in this format, so they have a bit of an advantage. Also look at how robust Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia have been in the Ryder Cup. Those that have won other match play events like Paul Casey and Kiradech Aphibarnrat who won the Paul Lawrie Match Play on the European Tour, those that do well in playoffs or with leads.
  • Also look at players with good single records in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup,  like Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, and Patrick Reed.  Also, players that have been doing well of late like Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas, Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy should do well this week.
  • In the past, the most challenging place to pick winners was the first round.  You were a superstar if you chose half of them right.  Now the first round means nothing, so look for more marquee players dominating the first three days and getting into the round of 16 on Saturday morning.  Again seeds mean nothing anymore.

Some secrets to playing at Austin Country Club:

Austin Country Club is perfect for match play because the course isn’t long, it’s not very tight, and the greens are generous.  But with all of the changes, there are a lot of bunkers in the fairways that will catch wayward drives.  Making the bunkers hard, they are deep and could be impossible to get to the green.  Also, lot’s of hazards to avoid, and you will see a lot of them if you are going for a tight pin position.  In some ways hitting first to the green you control what your opponent will do based on your shot.  If you can put pressure on him, he will lose holes.  But if you don’t hit the perfect shot and get yourself in trouble, it makes it easy for your opponent to hit the middle of the green and make par to win the hole.

Weather will also play a key.  It’s been very wet the last couple of weeks in Texas so the course could be soft and manageable.  In looking at the long-range forecast

https://weather.com/weather/tenday/l/USTX0057:1:US

the forecast is dry Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, but Saturday is could have isolated thunderstorms.  Sunday will have a mix of cloud and sunshine, but every day will have temperatures in the mid-80s.  Now wind will be a problem every day, the forecast calls for between 11 and 16 mph, but check back closer to the day. Again you create your storyline in this format; you can control your destiny in harsh weather.  Let the other player make the mistakes, not you.

Greens have a lot of undulations.  Good putters and scramblers will help a player savage his match.

Driving will be a key.  Just like at Augusta National, you have to place a drive in an excellent spot to have a good shot to the green.  The length is short, but if you don’t put your drives in the right spot, it will be hard to get close to your shot to the green.  So a straight driver will have an advantage over a long hitter this week.

 

Who to watch for at the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship

Best Bets:

Paul Casey

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T9 T51 T5 T17 2 2 T9 T5 T33

Strives in match play, the only thing that worries me is he doesn’t seem to thrive at Austin C.C. like he did at Dove Mountain. He probably has the easiest route to the weekend, so he is a top pick

Rory McIlroy

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T30 4 Win T17 T33 2 T17 T17 T5

He’s back and couldn’t come at a better time. We saw this happen last year with Dustin Johnson, he too was very dominant at this time last year and won the Match Play. Rory has a great match play record and should do well this week, off to a great start with Brian Harman, Jhonattan Vegas and Peter Uihlein in his group, he can’t lose.

Phil Mickelson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T5 T18 T17 T9 T17 T17 T9

Loves match play and even though he has struggled at times in this format, it may have been the course. Seems to like Austin C.C., he will have a tough group as he will have to beat Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Charles Howell III who won’t be easy.

Dustin Johnson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
Win T5 T17 T33 T33 T9 T33 T33 T33

Not only did he win last year, he made it to the weekend in 2016. Have to think he will do well, has an easy group with Kevin Kisner, Adam Hadwin and Bernd Wiesberger.

Best of the rest:

Jon Rahm

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
2

Made it to the finals in his first time at this event, think he will continue to play well this week.

Jason Day

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T58 Win T52 Win 3 T17 T9

Plays great in match play winning this event twice has played solidly this year and should do well. Will have a tough time in the group with Louis Oosthuizen, but I can see him winning.

Tommy Fleetwood

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T39 T5

Another player to watch, did well in 2015. In an easy group, should beat Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell and Ian Poulter.

Patrick Reed

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T51 T9 T17 T17

Has to beat Jordan Spieth and Charl Schwartzel, but I see him doing this.

Solid contenders

Bubba Watson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T9 T28 T17 T9 T9 T17 4

Like his chances in the group of Marc Leishman, Branden Grace and Julian Suri

Alex Noren

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T5 T17 T33

Don’t discount him, another of those quiet guys that will go about his business and win. In a good group with Tony Finau, Kevin Na and Thomas Pieters, but I think he can win.

Webb Simpson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T58 T17 T9 T5 T33

In a tough group with Pat Perez, Gary Woodland and Si Woo Kim but I see him winning and beating them.

Patrick Cantlay

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

In the group with Hideki Matsuyama, Cameron Smith and Yusaku Miyazato, I see him winning. People don’t realize how well he played in match play as an amateur.

Long shots that could come through:

Xander Schauffele

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

I think he can take down Sergio Garcia and win his group.

Luke List

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

It will be a tall order for him to win his group that has Justin Thomas in it.

Ross Fisher

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T5 T17 T33 4

Don’t discount his game, he is playing well and did well last year. Still has a long order in having to beat Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson.

Alex Levy

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

I see this as the big upset of all 16 matches, see him beating Tyrrell Hatton (tough match), Charley Hoffman and Brendon Steele.

Just don’t like them this week :

Justin Thomas

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T39 T61

Hasn’t played well in his two starts at Austin C.C. Is playing good right now, played well at the Presidents Cup but I think he will lose to Luke List in his group.

Sergio Garcia

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T30 T18 T34 T9 T17 T33 4 T33 T17 T17

His attitude will be great after the birth of his daughter last week, lives and plays at Austin C.C. so he could do well. But I think that Xander Schauffele will beat him.

Jordan Spieth

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T30 T9 T17 T5

Local boy that wants to do well in this event, played well in 2014 and ’16. I see him losing to his Ryder and Presidents Cup partner Patrick Reed.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T18 T33

Was one of my original picks because He won a match play event in Europe, plus two months ago won the ISPS Handa World Super 8 which had match play over the weekend. But he is in a group with Jon Rahm and I don’t see Kiradech beating him.

Comments

  1. Hi,
    Love the site. You like Phil and Rham, but won’t they meet very quickly in the round of 16?

  2. You are correct, Phil and Rham will meet in the round of 16 if they get out of group play. My picks are basically to get us to the round of 16, I also like Tommy Fleetwood and Jason Day, they both will face off on Saturday morning in the round of 16.
    So the important thing is to get into the round of 16 and then will face which tough matches there will be if this makes sense.

    No matter what scenario you chose, you will get these Phil/Rham and Fleetwood/Day problems.

  3. Nice writeup as always Sal. Not sure who I like the most…hard to discount Rory now… My 1st thought was Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson but tough to decide between Casey and McIlroy. My sleepers are Cameron Smith and Kevin Chappell… I take it the best strategy is to take 3 golfers on each side for DK and hope 2/3 on each meet in the Semifinals?

  4. Came up with Rory, Day, Casey and Reed as my final 4…threw in List and Cameron Smith as the “other 2”.

Speak Your Mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.