Welcome to GOLFstats.com!As a special promotion, you are currently viewing one of our special Performance Charts or Preview and Picks posts that we publish each week. We also publish special DraftKings Picks Posts 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 24th – 28th, 2021

Austin Country Club

Austin, TX

Par: 71 / Yardage: 7,108

Purse: $10.5 million

with $1,787,560 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Kevin Kisner

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 66 of the top 69 in the latest Official World Rankings.  Those not playing are #12 Brooks Koepka, #25 Adam Scott, #38 Justin Rose, #51 Gary Woodland & #56 Tiger Woods.  This event has never been able to get all top-64 to play in it, the best was in 2007 when 63 of the top-64 played in it.

The field includes 22 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2021.  Those top-25 players in the field are: #1 Bryson DeChambeau, #2 Justin Thomas, #3 Patrick Cantlay, #4 Viktor Hovland, #5 Dustin Johnson, #6 Xander Schauffele, #7 Harris English, #8 Tony Finau, #10 Joaquin Niemann, #12 Jason Kokrak, #13 Max Homa, #14 Carlos Ortiz, #15 Daniel Berger, #16 Sungjae Im, #17 Patrick Reed, #18 Jon Rahm, #19 Collin Morikawa, #20 Cameron Smith, #21 Si Woo Kim, #23 Lee Westwood,  #24 Corey Conners and #25 Kevin Na.

The list of those not playing are #9 Brooks Koepka, #11 Matt Jones #22 Stewart Cink.

The field includes the most past champions, 7 are playing this year: Kevin Kisner (2019), Bubba Watson (2018), 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.

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 Honda Classic The Players Arnold Palmer WGC-Workday Concession Puerto Rico Genesis Invit. Pebble Beach Phoenix Open Saudi Inter. Farmers Insurance American Express Abu Dhabi Sony Open
Bryson DeChambeau
(299 pts)
DNP T3
(135)
Win
(132)
T22
(28)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Lee Westwood
(240.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
2
(150)
2
(100)
T61
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP DNP T62
(0)
DNP
Justin Thomas
(235.33 pts)
DNP Win
(198)
DNP T15
(35)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Paul Casey
(221 pts)
DNP T5
(105)
T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP DNP
Max Homa
(200.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
T10
(40)
T22
(28)
DNP Win
(88)
T7
(36.67)
T42
(2.67)
DNP T18
(10.67)
T21
(9.67)
DNP DNP
Jordan Spieth
(189.67 pts)
DNP T48
(3)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP T15
(23.33)
T3
(60)
T4
(26.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Viktor Hovland
(186 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
T49
(1)
T2
(100)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP T6
(20)
T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Daniel Berger
(185.5 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP T35
(15)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
Jason Kokrak
(184.5 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
T8
(50)
T9
(45)
DNP T32
(12)
DNP DNP T41
(3)
T29
(7)
DNP DNP T56
(0)
Corey Conners
(181.17 pts)
DNP 7
(82.5)
3
(90)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Tony Finau
(181 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
DNP 14
(36)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
T2
(33.33)
4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Sungjae Im
(180.17 pts)
T8
(50)
T17
(49.5)
T21
(29)
T28
(22)
DNP DNP DNP T17
(11)
DNP T32
(6)
T12
(12.67)
DNP T56
(0)
Collin Morikawa
(168.5 pts)
DNP T41
(13.5)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
Brian Harman
(168.33 pts)
DNP T3
(135)
DNP DNP DNP T43
(4.67)
T39
(7.33)
T36
(4.67)
DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP T56
(0)
Will Zalatoris
(164.17 pts)
DNP 21
(43.5)
T10
(40)
T22
(28)
DNP T15
(23.33)
T55
(0)
T17
(11)
DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Jon Rahm
(162.83 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP T32
(18)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Talor Gooch
(145 pts)
T46
(4)
T5
(105)
T43
(7)
DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T48
(0.67)
T21
(9.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Cameron Smith
(138.5 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP 4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T62
(0)
Rory McIlroy
(132 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
T10
(40)
T6
(60)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP 3
(30)
DNP
Patrick Reed
(117.67 pts)
DNP T22
(42)
CUT
(-10)
T9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T66
(0)
Win
(44)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Joaquin Niemann
(116.5 pts)
T25
(25)
T29
(31.5)
DNP T28
(22)
DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
Lanto Griffin
(113.5 pts)
DNP T35
(22.5)
T21
(29)
T22
(28)
DNP T26
(16)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T41
(3)
Tyrrell Hatton
(106 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
T21
(29)
T22
(28)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(20)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP
Billy Horschel
(105 pts)
DNP T58
(0)
CUT
(-10)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
Jason Day
(103.5 pts)
DNP T35
(22.5)
T31
(19)
T18
(32)
DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Patrick Cantlay
(101.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(23.33)
T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP DNP
Russell Henley
(99.33 pts)
T3
(90)
CUT
(-15)
DNP DNP DNP T38
(8)
DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T11
(13)
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
(99.17 pts)
DNP T41
(13.5)
7
(55)
T32
(18)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP
Si Woo Kim
(98.5 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
WD
(-5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
T50
(0.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Win
(44)
DNP T25
(8.33)
Kevin Na
(96.83 pts)
DNP WD
(-7.5)
T43
(7)
T11
(39)
DNP T38
(8)
DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP Win
(44)
Victor Perez
(95.5 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
T68
(0)
T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP T46
(1.33)
DNP
Louis Oosthuizen
(93.5 pts)
DNP T41
(13.5)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP DNP DNP T11
(13)
DNP T29
(7)
DNP DNP DNP
Sergio Garcia
(92.5 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP T32
(18)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP DNP DNP T47
(1)
Ryan Palmer
(88.5 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T42
(2.67)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP T41
(3)
Abraham Ancer
(87.33 pts)
DNP T22
(42)
DNP T18
(32)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Scottie Scheffler
(86.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
DNP 5
(70)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Xander Schauffele
(86 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
DNP T39
(11)
DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Shane Lowry
(84.67 pts)
T36
(14)
8
(75)
CUT
(-10)
T48
(2)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T29
(7)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Dustin Johnson
(80.33 pts)
DNP T48
(3)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Webb Simpson
(74.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP DNP DNP T42
(2.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
Brendon Todd
(60.17 pts)
DNP T35
(22.5)
T57
(0)
T18
(32)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T41
(3)
Carlos Ortiz
(59 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
DNP T15
(35)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP T29
(7)
DNP DNP T14
(12)
Hideki Matsuyama
(58.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
T18
(32)
T15
(35)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T42
(2.67)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
Tommy Fleetwood
(57.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
T10
(40)
T44
(6)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T26
(8)
DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP
J.T. Poston
(43.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T22
(42)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP T11
(13)
DNP T18
(10.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Marc Leishman
(35.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-10)
T39
(11)
DNP T32
(12)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
Kevin Streelman
(34 pts)
T36
(14)
CUT
(-15)
DNP DNP DNP T52
(0)
13
(24.67)
T22
(9.33)
DNP T37
(4.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Matt Wallace
(30.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T18
(32)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP
Mackenzie Hughes
(24 pts)
T36
(14)
CUT
(-15)
DNP T44
(6)
DNP T32
(12)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
Harris English
(23.33 pts)
DNP DNP T26
(24)
66
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T32
(6)

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Honda Classic The Players Arnold Palmer WGC-Workday Concession Puerto Rico Genesis Invit. Pebble Beach Phoenix Open Saudi Inter. Farmers Insurance American Express Abu Dhabi Sony Open
Matt Kuchar
(-16.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
DNP T44
(6)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T42
(2.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Bubba Watson
(-15.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Matthew Wolff
(1.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP WD
(-5)
DNP T64
(0)
DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP WD
(-1.67)
T40
(3.33)
DNP DNP
Erik Van Rooyen
(3 pts)
T60
(0)
DNP T57
(0)
T37
(13)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T56
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Adam Long
(5.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T22
(42)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP 69
(0)
DNP DNP
Dylan Frittelli
(12 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T22
(42)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Bernd Wiesberger
(12.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
T31
(19)
T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP
Kevin Kisner
(14 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
T36
(14)
T41
(9)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T32
(6)
Andy Sullivan
(14 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP
Sebastian Munoz
(15.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
T49
(1)
T22
(28)
DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T65
(0)
Ian Poulter
(16.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-15)
T26
(24)
DNP T35
(10)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Robert MacIntyre
(17.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-15)
T36
(14)
T61
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T29
(7)
DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP
Antoine Rozner
(19.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T26
(8)
DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP
Harris English
(23.33 pts)
DNP DNP T26
(24)
66
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T32
(6)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

So after a year off because of COVID-19, Match Play is back.  One specific thing, it seems everyone is happy with the course and format.  After taking it to several courses in two-decades, 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 tiny handful of players aren’t pleased 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 for at least three days.  Even Tiger Woods went out of his way to agree it was nicer to play all three days instead of going home on Wednesday if knocked out  About the only problem of this event is the time of year it’s being played.  It’s wedge two weeks after the Players Championship, four weeks after the WGC-Workday Concession, and two weeks before the Masters, and many don’t like the timing.  We have talked about this before that it would be nice to play it after the Masters at the end of April, but as of now, the Tour, the golf federation, and sponsors are pretty happy with the way the schedule is now.

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 sponsor.  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, Paul Casey, 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 you lose, 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 first final match in 1999 pitted superstars Jeff Maggert and Andrew Magee.  In defense of the new format, we saw #1 Dustin Johnson beat #25, Jon Rahm, in 2017.

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 2020 PGA Championship,  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 lots of marquee players with Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, and Jason Day, with Day winning over British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.  The same in 2017 when marquee names like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Paul Casey, Jon Rahm, and Bubba Watson played on the weekend, it was another winner.  2018 didn’t see the top players over the weekend. Still, it did hold some marquee names as Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar, and Louis Oosthuizen making it to Saturday play, with Sunday consisting of Bubba Watson and Kevin Kisner in the finals and a consultation match of Alex Noren and Justin Thomas.  In 2019 we did see Tiger Woods make it to the quarterfinals only to lose to Lucas Bjerragaard, showing how anyone can beat anyone on any given day.

Along with that, another winner was the course, Austin Country Club.

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 Match Play’s new home for the next four years. It closed for ten months as renovations were done to bring the course up to the modern player’s standards.

The course held up and for three years has been a gem that many players love.  The tournament has risen in stature, but there is still one tiny problem, getting a full slate of the top-64 to play.  This year #10 Rickie Fowler and #29 Adam Scott are taking a pass, while last year Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott, Justin Rose, and Rickie Fowler didn’t play.    It’s hard to fathom that players that are healthy like Fowler and Scott would take a pass, but that is their choice, and nothing can be said.  Who knows what future years bring, but 62 of the top-64 isn’t that bad.

Other news, marquee players in great form or not in shape:

Have to say this, in the last 24 PGA Tour events, we have had 24 different winners.  Have to think that streak ends this week.  As for the top players, #1 Dustin Johnson isn’t playing very well and believes he won’t make it out of his group play.  Yes, for many, it may seem complicated to think that Johnson can’t beat Kevin Na, Robert Macintyre, and Adam Long, but in 2019 Johnson lost to Branden Grace and Hideki Matsuyama.  Same with Brooks Koepka in 2019 when he lost to Haotong Li, Alex Noren and halved his match with Tom Lewis.  You don’t have to worry about Koepka, who had knee surgery last week and won’t play this week, also his Masters’s could be in real jeopardy.  One other thing showing how this format can produce some strange results, Jason Day is one of the best to play in this event, he won this event in 2016 and 2014, but in 2019, Day lost all three of his group matches to Jim Furyk, Henrik Stenson, and Phil Mickelson.

Now, of the other top players, Justin Thomas is the hot man after winning the Players Championship.  He has had mixed results in 2018 beat Luke List, Patton Kizzire, Francesco Molinari, Si Woo Kim, and Kyle Stanley before losing to Bubba Watson in the semis and lost again to Alex Noren in the consolation.  As for #3 Jon Rahm, he played great in his first Match Play in 2017, losing to Dustin Johnson in the finals.  Since then, he has only won a single match in 2019, beating SiWoo Kim.  Still, I like his chances in the group with Ryan Palmer, Shane Lowry, and Sebastian Munoz.  #4 Collin Morikawa is playing for the first time in this event, and we don’t know much about his match play history other than the last time he was in a match play event was the 2018 U.S. Amateur, and he lost in the first round against John Augenstein.  #5 Bryson DeChambeau didn’t show us much in his only match play start in 2019, beating Russell Knox but losing to Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Marc Leishman.  But remember this DeChambeau is one to fear as he won the 2015 U.S Amateur winning all six of his matches.

Could this be the week for Rory to break out of his slump?:

Remember this, Rory won the match play in 2015, was runner-up in 2012, and was 4th in 2016.  In 41 matches, his record is 27 wins, 27 wins, 12 losses, and two halve matches.  Matchplay is a different be.  Matchplay is a different beast, it’s more about going mano-a-mano instead of keeping it in play for 72 holes.  The problem with McIlroy is he seems to play poorly in one round per tournament. Maybe match play will turn that around, and he can be the best for all eight matches.  It’s also a lot about the draw. I think that Rory has some easy matches to start with as his group includes Cameron Smith, Lanto Griffin, and Ian Poulter.  Have to believe that he will do well and get to the weekend.

Another thing to consider is those that have played well in this format.  In 2019 Matt Kuchar made it to the finals before losing to Kevin Kisner.  Kuchar has an excellent record in this event, including a win in 2013.  Yes, he has played poorly for just a year now. He only has one top-20 finish since finishing T-2nd at the Genesis (T-18th at Northern Trust last year).  Could Austin Country Club be kind to him again?  The same with Kevin Kisner, who won in 2019 and was runner-up in 2018, he hasn’t played well since his runner-up finish at the RSM Classic, I have to wonder if he will play well this week.  The same with others that have done well in this format, like Jason Day, Paul Casey, and Bubba Watson, could they shine this week?

Tournament information:

This will be the 22nd 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 had 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 was 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 with 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 many risks and reward types 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 it 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 150 yard, 17th to the longest, the 201 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.
DraftKings with Match Play games:

2018 was the first year that DraftKings had a game, and it was a lot of fun.  The game is based on winning holes and that your player goes to Sunday.  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, which is an essential element to winning.  They also will give 5 points for matches won, and 2 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.

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

  • Dustin Johnson – $11,500
  • Justin Thomas – $11,200
  • Bryce DeChambeau – $10,900
  • Jon Rahm – $10,700
  • Collin Morikawa – $10,400
  • Rory McIlroy – $10,200
  • Xander Schauffele – $10,000
  • Patrick Cantlay – $9,800
  • Patrick Reed – $9,800
  • Viktor Havland – $9,400
  • Jordan Spieth – $9,300
  • Tony Finau – $9,200
  • Webb Simpson – $9,100
  • Daniel Berger – $9,000

Here is how the groups work out and who will play each other in the first three rounds of the WGC-Dell Match Play:

Let’s look at all 16 groups:

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, a 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 considered a halve, with play ending.  Now if you’re playing Draftkings you better look for players in that 7,000 to 8,500 range because you can’t take all of the favorites.  So in the group behind, look for that upset and players that will make it to the weekend.

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

Group 1:

Dustin Johnson (1) – Draftkings $11,500, Kevin Na (34) – Draftkings $7,100, Robert MacIntyre (41) – Draftkings $6,500 & Adam Long (61) – Draftkings $6,000 …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – Johnson vs. Long, 4 p.m.; Na vs. MacIntyre, 4:11 p.m.; Thursday – Johnson vs. MacIntyre, 2:32 p.m.; Na vs. Long, 2:43 p.m.; Friday – Johnson vs. Na, TBD; MacIntyre vs. Long, TBD

Yes, world #1 looks like the easy pick in this group.  For Long and Macintyre they have never played in this event and for both, they aren’t playing well with Long missing five of his last six cuts.  Macintyre missed the cut at the Players and other than a 3rd in Dubai back in January is not playing well.  As For Kevin Na, he too is not playing well and after shooting 81 and withdrawing from the Players.  So despite Dustin Johnson not playing well, expect him to roll through this cast of mismatch players, no longshot victories here

Group winner – Dustin Johnson

Group 2:

Justin Thomas (2) – Draftkings $11,200, Louis Oosthuizen (22) – Draftkings $8,100, Kevin Kisner (34) – Draftkings $7,600 & Matt Kuchar (52) – Draftkings $6,700 …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – Thomas vs. Kuchar, 1:04 p.m.; Oosthuizen vs. Kisner, 1:15 p.m.; Thursday – Thomas vs. Kisner, 11:36 a.m.; Oosthuizen vs. Kuchar, 11:47 a.m.; Friday – Thomas vs. Oosthuizen, TBD; Kisner vs. Kuchar, TBD

On paper, this looks like a group in which Justin Thomas just can’t win.  Between Oosthuizen, Kisner, and Kuchar all have great records in this event.  Of course, Kuchar isn’t playing well and you can probably eliminate him.  As for Kisner, in his last 16 matches in this event, his record is 13-2-1 which is remarkable.  But let’s face reality, don’t see that continuing the way he is playing.  So look for both Thomas and Oosthuizen to win their Wednesday and Thursday matches and Oosthuizen taking down Thomas on Friday. I can say this because of one reason, in the 36 matches he has played, Oosthuizen has beaten Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Hideki Matsuyama, and even Rickie Fowler in his prime so look for Thomas to fall on Friday

Group winner – Yes I think Oosthuizen will beat all three of these players.

Group 3:

Jon Rahm (3) – Draftkings $10,700, Ryan Palmer (24) – Draftkings $7,000, & Shane Lowry (38) – Draftkings $7,100 & Sebastian Munoz (56) – Draftkings $6,100…

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – Rahm vs. Munoz, 11:36 a.m.; Palmer vs. Lowry, 11:47 a.m.; Thursday – Rahm vs. Lowry, 4 p.m.; Palmer vs. Munoz, 4:11 p.m.; Friday – Rahm vs. Palmer, TBD; Lowry vs. Munoz, TBD

Another of these pods that look one-sided towards one player, in this case, Jon Rahm.  He played great in his first match play in 2017 getting to the finals before Dustin Johnson beat him.  Since then have really struggled and I could see the struggle continue.  Think the outcome of this pod comes on Thursday when Rahm plays Shane Lowry and feels that Lowry will beat him.  Remember we have to find Draftkings players in that 7,000 range and Lowry at $7,100 fits that bill.  So I sniff an upset or two, Ryan Palmer could also prove to be hard to beat and if he beats Lowry on Wednesday could beat Rahm on Friday.

Group winner – Shane Lowry

Group 4:

Collin Morikawa (4) – Draftkings $10,400, Billy Horschel (32) – Draftkings $7,200, Max Homa (35) – Draftkings $7,400 & J.T. Poston (63) – Draftkings $6,300  …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – Morikawa vs. Poston, 2:32 p.m.; Horschel vs. Homa, 2:43 p.m.; Thursday – Morikawa vs. Homa, 1:04 p.m.; Horschel vs. Poston, 1:15 p.m.; Friday – Morikawa vs. Horschel, TBD; Homa vs. Poston, TBD

A pod in which three of the four players are rookies.  Billy Horschel is the only one with experience and it hasn’t been very positive, in four starts has never made it past the first three days.  As for the others, can’t see Poston or Homa doing it more than maybe one upset at the most.  So that leaves us with Morikawa who is playing well right now

Group Winner – Collin Morikawa should have an easy time.

Group 5:

Bryson DeChambeau (5) – Draftkings $10,900, Tommy Fleetwood (21) – Draftkings $7,800, Si Woo Kim (45) – Draftkings $7,300 & Antoine Rozner (58) – Draftkings $6,200  …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – DeChambeau vs. Rozner, 1:48 p.m.; Fleetwood vs. Kim, 1:59 p.m.; DeChambeau vs. Kim, 12:20 p.m.; Fleetwood vs. Rozner, 12:31 p.m.; Friday – DeChambeau vs. Fleetwood, TBD; Kim vs. Rozner, TBD

Can anyone beat DeChambeau?  Be a hard task, but strange things have happened in the past, DeChambeau will get a tough task when he plays Fleetwood on Friday.  Still don’t think this pod will be any problem for Bryson.

Group winner – Bryson DeChambeau

Group 6:

Xander Schauffele (6) – Draftkings $10,000, Scottie Scheffler (30) – Draftkings $7,900, Jason Day (44) – Draftkings $8,400 & Andy Sullivan (57) – Draftkings $6,000  …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – Schauffele vs. Sullivan, 10:52 a.m.; Scheffler vs. Day, 11:03 a.m.; Thursday – Schauffele vs. Day, 3:16 p.m.; Scheffler vs. Sullivan, 3:27 p.m.; Friday – Schauffele vs. Scheffler, TBD; Day vs. Sullivan, TBD

This group is not easy to predict, Schauffele has some stiff competition between Scheffler and Day.  On paper, Day looks great winning this thing twice and being third in 2013.  But he has struggled in his last three appearances so he may go down.  As for Scheffler I am personally chapped that he missed the cut at the Players, but he is a great player who could find himself playing against Xander on Friday to see who goes to the weekend.

Group winner – Will give Scottie Scheffler one more chance to redeem himself with a win.

Group 7:

Patrick Reed (7) – Draftkings $9,600, Joaquin Niemann (26) – Draftkings $8,000, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (33) – Draftkings $7,600 & Bubba Watson (55) – Draftkings $7,400 …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – Reed vs. Watson, 12:20 p.m.; Niemann vs. Bezuidenhout, 12:31 p.m.; Thursday – Reed vs. Bezuidenhout, 10:52 a.m.; Niemann vs. Watson, 11:03 a.m.; Friday – Reed vs. Niemann, TBD; Bezuidenhout vs. Watson, TBD

Everybody will look at this pod and say hands down Patrick Reed wins.  But Niemann is tough, Watson won this just three years ago and Bezuidenhout has won three times over in Europe in the last year and a half.  Still like the Reed/Niemann matchup on Friday and feel that Joaquin can beat him.

Group winner – Joaquin Niemann

Group 8:

Tyrrell Hatton (8) – Draftkings $8,600, Lee Westwood (18) – Draftkings $7,700, Sergio Garcia (39) – Draftkings $8,300 & Matt Wallace (51) – Draftkings $7,000  …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – Hatton vs. Wallace, 3:16 p.m.; Westwood vs. Garcia, 3:27 p.m.; Thursday – Hatton vs. Garcia, 1:48 p.m.; Westwood vs. Wallace, 1:59 p.m.; Friday – Hatton vs. Westwood, TBD; Garcia vs. Wallace, TBD

A bit unfair for the Europeans to see four of them in the same pod.  Don’t give Wallace much of a chance and think Westwood is too tired and that off the bat Sergio whips him on Wednesday.  That leaves us with Hatton vs. Garcia on Thursday and the outcome of this pod.  Hatton is the future of the European Tour and feels he will take care of business for the three days

Group winner – Tyrrell Hatton

Group 9:

Webb Simpson (9) – Draftkings $9,100, Paul Casey (17) – Draftkings $8,900, Mackenzie Hughes (48) – Draftkings $6,100 & Talor Gooch (59) – Draftkings $6,600  …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – Simpson vs. Gooch, 2:54 p.m.; Casey vs. Hughes, 3:05 p.m.; Thursday – Simpson vs. Hughes, 1:26 p.m.; Casey vs. Gooch, 1:37 p.m.; Friday – Simpson vs. Casey, TBD; Hughes vs. Gooch, TBD

Simpson is the top seed but Casey is the man to beat in this pod, boasting a 27-15-2 record and two runners-up in the event.  I can see Casey going all the way as Simpson hasn’t played that great.  Now watch both Hughes and Gooch, both don’t have much of a chance but those are the type of players that win here.  Still, the outcome will be determined in the Friday Simpson/Casey match.

Group winner – Paul Casey

Group 10:

Patrick Cantlay (10) – Draftkings $9,800, Hideki Matsuyama (23) – Draftkings $8,200, Carlos Ortiz (42) – Draftkings $6,800 & Brian Harman (54) – Draftkings $7,200  …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – Cantlay vs. Harman, 11:58 a.m.; Matsuyama vs. Ortiz, 12:09 p.m.; Thursday – Cantlay vs. Ortiz, 10:30 a.m.; Matsuyama vs. Harman, 10:41 a.m.; Friday – Cantlay vs. Matsuyama, TBD; Ortiz vs. Harman, TBD

Boy, this is a pod recking of an upset.  On paper this is the most unproductive pod, even Matsuyama is having a terrible year so on paper this should be a stroll in the park.  But again this could also be an upset.

Group winner – Patrick Cantlay

Group 11:

Rory McIlroy (11) – Draftkings $10,200, Cameron Smith (25) – Draftkings $8,50, Lanto Griffin (46) – Draftkings $6,900 & Ian Poulter (60) – Draftkings $6,700  …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – McIlroy vs. Poulter, 10:30 a.m.; Smith vs. Griffin, 9:41 a.m.; Thursday – McIlroy vs. Griffin, 2:54 p.m.; Smith vs. Poulter, 3:05 p.m.; Friday – McIlroy vs. Smith, TBD; Griffin vs. Poulter, TBD

Another pod that looks easy to pick even with McIlroy struggling.  Yes, Poulter loves match play and has won this event before but he is showing signs that his sunset is not far from happening.  As for Smith and Griffin, you never know they could find some magic to pull off an upset.  Still not very likely.  Like the fact that McIlory is back working with Pete Cowen and I think that is a step in the right direction.

Group winner – Rory McIlroy

Group 12:

Tony Finau (12) – Draftkings $9,200, Jason Kokrak (29) – Draftkings $7,500, Will Zalatoris (40) – Draftkings $7,900 & Dylan Frittelli (64) – Draftkings $6,500 …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – Finau vs. Frittelli, 1:26 p.m.; Kokrak vs. Zalatoris, 1:37 p.m.; Thursday – Finau vs. Zalatoris, 11:58 a.m.; Kokrak vs. Frittelli, 12:09 p.m.; Friday – Finau vs. Kokrak, TBD; Zalatoris vs. Frittelli, TBD

Another of those pods that look easy to pick a winner, yes we all like Tony Finau and wish he can win soon enough.  But before we give him the pod it’s best for him to earn it and let me tell you, both Kokrak or Zalatoris is at the top of their games and could pull off the upset.  But I don’t think it will come this week.

Group winner – Tony Finau

Group 13:

Viktor Hovland (13) – Draftkings $9,400, Abraham Ancer (27) – Draftkings $7,700, Bernd Wiesberger (43) – Draftkings $6,200 & Kevin Streelman (53) – Draftkings $6,300 …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – Hovland vs. Streelman, 2:10 p.m.; Ancer vs. Wiesberger, 2:21 p.m.; Thursday – Hovland vs. Wiesberger, 12:42 p.m.; Ancer vs. Streelman, 12:53 p.m.; Friday – Hovland vs. Ancer, TBD; Wiesberger vs. Streelman, TBD

Have to remember that Hovland did win the 2018 U.S. Amateur with its match play format.  He should do ok in this pod, but either Abraham Ancer or Kevin Streelman won’t give up and they could surprise us.  Still, Hovland is playing too well right now to get beat in the early stages.

Group winner – Viktor Hovland

Group 14:

Daniel Berger (14) – Draftkings $9,000, Harris English (19) – Draftkings $7,300, Brendon Todd (47) – Draftkings $6,400 & Erik van Rooyen (62) – Draftkings $6,400 …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – Berger vs. Van Rooyen, 11:14 a.m.; English vs. Todd, 11:25 a.m.; Thursday – Berger vs. Todd, 3:38 p.m.; English vs. Van Rooyen, 3:49 p.m.; Friday – Berger vs. English, TBD; Todd vs. Van Rooyen, TBD

This is the pod in which you can make up a lot of ground in Draftkings.  First I have to say this is a poor event for Berger who has just won once in nine matches.  That and the fact that he sat out last week nursing a rib injury doesn’t make him a top pick.  As for Todd and Van Rooyen, they don’t give off an air of confidence.  So that leaves us with Harris English who doesn’t have much match play experience but in his two years did be U.S. Open Champion Graeme McDowell, British Open champion Shane Lowry, PGA Champion Rory McIlroy, and former world number one Lee Westwood.  Making him an even big winner English is only $7,300 on Draftkings so he will be a very popular pick.

Group winner – Harris English

Group 15:

Matthew Fitzpatrick (15) – Draftkings $8,700, Matthew Wolff (20) – Draftkings $6,900, Corey Conners (37) – Draftkings $7,800 & Jordan Spieth (49) – Draftkings $9,300 …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – Fitzpatrick vs. Spieth, 12:42 p.m.; Wolff vs. Conners, 12:53 p.m.; Thursday – Fitzpatrick vs. Conners, 11:14 a.m.; Wolff vs. Spieth, 11:25 a.m.; Friday – Fitzpatrick vs. Wolff, TBD; Conners vs. Spieth, TBD

A tough draw here with the exception of Matthew Wolff who has wrist problems and playing terribly, Conners could pull the upset since he is playing well.  I think the winner gets determined on Wednesday in the Fitzpatrick/Spieth match, I kind of like Texas Spieth.  But even if Jordan wins the first two days, Friday’s match with Conners will be tough and could produce an upset.

Group winner – Jordan Spieth

Group 16:

Sungjae Im (16) – Draftkings $8,800, Victor Perez (31) – Draftkings $6,600, Marc Leishman (36) – Draftkings $6,800 & Russell Henley (50) – Draftkings $7,500 …

SCHEDULE: Wednesday – Im vs. Henley, 3:38 p.m.; Perez vs. Leishman, 3:49 p.m.; Thursday – Im vs. Leishman, 2:10 p.m.; Perez vs. Henley, 2:21 p.m.; Friday – Im vs. Perez, TBD; Leishman vs. Henley, TBD

Another tough pod to call, only Leishman is playing badly.  Henley played great finishing T-3rd at the Honda and Im is always tough, but I like the way Perez finished with a closing round of 67 at the Players.  This could be another great Draftkings pick at only $6,600 so Perez can help you.

Group winner – Yes look for the upset by Victor Perez.

**One very important piece of information, this event is different than any other in which it starts on Wednesday, not Thursday**.

DraftKings Strategy

Again you have to be sure that you find those longshot winners in each pod.  As for my dream six pick for Draftkings and why:

Dustin Johnson at $11,500

I like that not only does Johnson have it easy in his pod between Adam Long, Robert MacIntyre, and Kevin Na but when Johnson makes it to the round of 16 he gets the winner of the Im, Perez, Leishman, and Henley pod.  So I can see clear sailings for Johnson into the quarterfinals

Paul Casey at $8,900

Like his pod in which none of the players are hot right now and Casey is born to win this event.  People tend to forget that he won the Match Play Championship on the European Tour in 2006 and he has played well in the Ryder Cup.

Harris English at $7,300

Love his pod, think he will come out of it easily.  Hard to believe his price is so low, probably because he hasn’t played well since winning at Kapalua back in January. Still don’t think he will disappoint.

Victor Perez at $6,600

Now, this is my one worry, it’s a big leap of faith on a big upset.  But the math works out, Perez is a great player who when he gets going is tough to beat.  Think his pod is good, but still think he can outlast Sungjae Im and Russell Henley.  With this small pick, it clears up cap money to take some more expensive players since I am left with $15,700 leftover

Scottie Scheffler at $7,900

Can he beat both Jason Day and Xander Schauffele?  We will have to wait for Friday for that answer, but I think he is good enough to do that.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout at $7,600

In the pod with Patrick Reed, Joaquin Niemann, and Bubba Watson.  Yes, he is a longshot, but I think it’s possible picking him puts me $200 under the salary cap.

One other big important point in making DraftKings picks for the Match Play.  When you pick your six guys, make sure you don’t pick two in the same pod, that is like working against you.  Remember the most important thing that you have to do is look at the 16 pods 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.

Have fun and good luck.

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

The 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 22 Dell rookies (Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Corey Conners, Talor Gooch, Lanto Griffin, Max Homa, Viktor Hovland, Mackenzie Hughes, Sungjae Im, Jason Kokrak, Adam Long, Robert MacIntyre, Collin Morikawa, Sebastian Munoz, Joaquin Niemann, Carlos Ortiz, Victor Perez, J.T. Poston, Antoine Rozner, Scottie Scheffler, Matthew Wolff, Will Zalatoris and Erik van Rooyen.
  • Just look at what happened in 2018, tournament rookies Cameron Smith made it to the quarterfinals, and Brian Harman making it to the round of 16 before he was beaten by past winner Bubba Watson.  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 Dylan Frittelli.  When you see some pairings of a superstar against a lesser-name player like Byeong Hun An, Andrew Putnam, Abraham Ancer, Tom Lewis, and Satoshi Kodaira 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 and has a record of 7-4-2, but the player that has done well is Kevin Kisner, who won in 2019 and was 2nd in 2018 with a 14-5-1 record, but his game is not very good.  But the point is his game wasn’t that great before 2019 and 2018, and he still did well.  Louis Oosthuizen has also played well at Austin Country Club he was runner-up in 2016, was T-17th in 2017, T-9th in 2018, and T-5th in 2019 with a 13-6, and he played excellent finishing T-6th at the WGC-Workday Concession.  Also have to watch guys like Jon Rahm, who was runner-up in 2017.  Despite Dustin Johnson playing badly in 2019 & ’18, he won in 2017 and was T-5th in 2016.
  • Still, everyone starts with a clean slate on Wednesday.
  • Matchplay is a rare format on the PGA Tour.  Even though it’s the game that is played regularly in golf clubs worldwide, 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 many 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 suddenly 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 in 2019, Matt Kuchar halved his match with Jon Rahm but still won his pod and went into the finals losing to Kisner.  And talking about Kisner in 2018, he halved his first-round match to Adam Hadwin but was still able to win his group and went to the finals before losing to Bubba Watson.  So the point, anything can happen in this format.
  • A couple of things that can help you pick a winner are looking at those with good match play records.  Past winners of the U.S. Amateur like Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland 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 who have won other match play events like Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, who won the Match Play on the European Tour, do well in playoffs or 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 who have been doing well lately, like Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, and Max Homa, all have won in recent weeks.
  • 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 many 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.
  • 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.
  • Weather will not play a role except for Thursday when it’s supposed to rain in the morning.  The rest of the days will be perfect, a bit cloudy but in the low 80s.  Wind will blow at 10 to 13 mph each day.

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

Best Bets:

Dustin Johnson

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T40 T59 Win T5 T17 T33 T33 T9 T33 T33 T33

Past champion that has an easy opening rounds, if he can make it to the weekend anything is possible.

Paul Casey

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T9 T17 T9 T51 T5 T17 2 2

Plays great mano-a-mano, won match play in Europe. Also, the course is well suited for this game.

Rory McIlroy

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T9 T36 T30 4 Win T17 T33 2 T17 T17 T5

Still thinks that he can do well this week despite his problems over the last year.  Working with Pete Cowen is a step in the right direction in regaining his lost game.

Best of the rest:

Tony Finau

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T40 T17

Guy can win under any conditions, wouldn’t it be great if he won and the media would still call him the best player not to win a stroke-play event that isn’t an opposite tour event.

Jordan Spieth

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T24 T17 T30 T9 T17 T5

Think his game is well suited for match play and he is ready to win, be special for that win to come in Texas.

Justin Thomas

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T24 4 T39 T61

I worry that he is in a tough opening pod, if he can get through the first three days he has a great chance.

Viktor Hovland

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

He can win the U.S. Amateur, he can win this match play championship.

Collin Morikawa

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

Playing very well right now.

Patrick Cantlay

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T24 T17

Has an easy start, should get through his pod easily.

Solid contenders

Bryce DeChambeau

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

Can he bully his way to winning all seven of his matches? Course should be good for him to bomb it out there.

Louis Oosthuizen

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T5 T9 T17 2 T5 T5 T17 T17 T33 T33

Has a great record in not only this event but at Austin C.C.

Kevin Kisner

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
Win 2 T17 T38

Another that is unbeaten at Austin C.C.

Harris English

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T17 T9

In a pod that could make him winning easier

Tyrrell Hatton

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T9 T9 T17

has played great in this event before.

Long shots that could come through:

Victor Perez

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

Also in a pod that he can win has a great game fits the bill of a longshot

Scottie Scheffler

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

Course is perfect for his game, he is ready to shine.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

A tough competitor that could surprise a lot of people this week.

Comments

  1. modlish.ed@gmail.com says

    dustin and perez in same pod

  2. They are not in the same pod. But if Johnson and Perez win their pods, they face each other in a match on Saturday morning.

  3. Michael C says

    Nice picks Sal! Have to think you had a great week with both Perez and Scheffler in the Final Four.

  4. It’s always nice if you can get to the final four.

  5. Andrzej S says

    Hi Sal,

    C Kirk should be nice one – TOP10 in 2015 and 2018.

    Can I search for all the holes in one in a year or name field (golf course)?

  6. Andrzej, did you mean to put this here and not in the Valero Texas Open preview???

    Because Kirk could be a great pick at Valero Texas Open.

    Also, we don’t list holes in one on Golfstats.
    But here is the list of those making holes in one on the PGA Tour in 2021:

    Holes-In-One
    Through World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play (03/28/2021)
    Patrick Reed, (No. 7/first round/Winged Foot GC) U.S. Open
    Will Zalatoris, (No. 7/first round/Winged Foot GC) U.S. Open
    Kelly Kraft, (No. 9/first round/Corales Golf Course) Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship
    Patrick Rodgers, (No. 13/second round/CC of Jackson) Sanderson Farms Championship
    Henrik Norlander, (No. 5/first round/TPC Summerlin) Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
    Martin Laird, (No. 2/first round/Memorial Park Golf Course) Vivint Houston Open
    Andrew Putnam, (No. 7/second round/Sea Island Resort (Plantation)) The RSM Classic
    Tony Finau, (No. 4/third round/El Camaleon GC) Mayakoba Golf Classic presented by UNIFIN
    Richy Werenski, (No. 3/first round/Torrey Pines (South)) Farmers Insurance Open
    Ricky Barnes, (No. 7/first round/Pebble Beach Golf Links) AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
    Tae Hoon Kim, (No. 16/first round/The Riviera CC) The Genesis Invitational
    Scott Harrington, (No. 6/fourth round/The Riviera CC) The Genesis Invitational
    Greg Chalmers, (No. 8/first round/Grand Reserve CC) Puerto Rico Open
    Trevor Simsby, (No. 6/third round/The Concession GC) World Golf Championships-Workday Championship at The Concession Jordan Spieth, (No. 2/third round/Bay Hill Club & Lodge) Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard
    Jazz Janewattananond, (No. 14/third round/Bay Hill Club & Lodge) Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard
    Kris Ventura, (No. 14/fourth round/Bay Hill Club & Lodge) Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard
    Brendon Todd, (No. 8/second round/TPC Sawgrass) THE PLAYERS Championship
    Denny McCarthy, (No. 3/second round/TPC Sawgrass) THE PLAYERS Championship
    Stephan Jaeger, (No. 2/first round/Corales Golf Course) Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship

Speak Your Mind

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