Previewing WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play
This week’s WGC event is a bracket-style tournament. It will be played at the Austin Country Club. Austin CC is a Par 71 course that plays a shade over 7,000 yards. The format for this week’s event is unlike most in that it features match play. For those that don’t know, match play means that you can either win, lose, or halve on a hole but the actual strokes don’t change how well or how poorly you’re doing. If you shoot an 8 and your opponent shoots a 3, it only counts as you losing the hole.
The brackets are set up starting in groups of 4, where one of the top 16 players in the field was chosen. The rest of their group was randomly selected on the Golf Channel on Monday night. The first three rounds will feature 18 hole matches between players in different 4-person groups with each golfer getting one round against their randomly drawn group.
Dustin Johnson headlines this group of former Major winners. He comes in as one of the hottest golfers in the world, finishing no worse than 3rd place in his last 3 starts. The last two starts ended in Johnson holding the trophy on the 72nd hole. The group is rounded out by Jimmy Walker, Martin Kaymer, and Webb Simpson. The rest of group 1 are all fine golfers and come in with decent form. Kaymer probably has the best chance out of the rest of the group, but I don’t see him getting past Johnson.
Pick: Dustin Johnson.
Rory McIlroy leads Group 2. He will face off against Emiliano Grillo, Gary Woodland, and Soren Kjeldsen. Grillo is coming off of a T7 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The only question is, will we get the Grillo that was up at the top of the leaderboard after Friday, or the one that was throwing clubs into the lake en route to a 78? Gary Woodland has a chance to make some noise given his all around skills. Not sure that Soren Kjeldsen will really factor in much to deciding this group.
Pick: Rory McIlroy
Jason Day is at the top of Group 3 but he might not be once it’s all said and done heading into the Round of 16 on Saturday. He won this tournament last year but he was in much better form. Lee Westwood did not perform well here last year. Pat Perez played well last week, but Marc Leishman has all of the momentum after his comeback win at Bay Hill.
Pick: Marc Leishman
Hideki Matsuyama has cooled off recently. Ross Fisher played extremely well in Mexico at the last WGC Event but hasn’t played since then. Jim Furyk is also in this group but it would be difficult for him to push the guys in this group at this point in his career. Louis Oosthuizen played reasonably well last week but has struggled on the greens this year.
Pick: Ross Fisher
Jordan Spieth hasn’t played since the WGC Mexico Championship as he gears up towards the Masters in a few weeks. But, the last time he finished outside the Top 25 in an event was at The Open Championship in July. Yuti Ikeda and Hideto Tanihara haven’t had much experience playing with the class of golfers like Jordan Spieth.
Pick: Jordan Spieth
Justin Thomas has been up and down recently missing 2 of his last 5 cuts after dominating Hawaii. Matthew Fitzpatrick, Kevin Na, and Chris Wood round out this group. Fitzpatrick has played well recently while Kevin Na has faded. It would be difficult for Wood to push Thomas or Fitzpatrick in this group.
Pick: Justin Thomas
Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm will face off during group play this week. Kevin Chappell and Shane Lowry round out Group 7. This could signal a changing of the guard if Rahm can come out of this group. It should come down to Garcia and Rahm on Friday.
Pick: Jon Rahm
Alex Noren hasn’t performed well since his last victory in Europe which came in November. Bernd Wiesberger hasn’t played in the US since October. Francesco Molinari has quietly put together a nice stretch of golf since missing the cut at the Genesis Open.
Pick: Francesco Molinari
Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Kevin Kisner, and Jason Dufner make for a very interesting group. Patrick Reed has gained some fame for his brash match play style. Brooks Koepka is always teetering on the edge of a quad bogey or 3 birdies in a row. Kevin Kisner is on a hot streak.
Pick: Patrick Reed
Tyrrell Hatton has gone from 55th in the world at The Open Championship to 14th in the world after posting 11 straight Top 25 finishes. Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Jeunghun Wang, and Charles Howell III have all played well recently as well. This isn’t a typical event and Hatton will be treating it as a Ryder Cup/President’s Cup audition.
Pick: Tyrrell Hatton
Danny Willett Is the top ranked golfer in this group but isn’t in his best form. Russell Knox has also struggled lately, missing all 3 of his last 3 cuts. Bill Haas has had success here in the past.
Pick: Bill Haas
This group will most likely come down to Paul Casey against Byeong Hun An. Charl Schwartzel has been inconsistent and Joost Luiten will most likely be in a little over his head. Both Casey and An have been playing well lately and it will be interesting to see how this group plays out.
Pick: Byeong Hun An
Bubba Watson is the top ranked player in this group. Unfortunately, he has been dreadful lately. This group will come down to Thomas Pieters and Jhonattan Vegas. Scott Piercy is a fine player, but hasn’t finished any tournament in the Top 25 since the Shriners.
Pick: Jhonattan Vegas
Phil Mickelson, JB Holmes, Daniel Berger and Si Woo Kim will all face each other in Group 14. Mickelson has the advantage in match play because of his creativity and the fact that his chances aren’t affected by big numbers. Berger has a similar style though and can play at a high level.
Pick: Phil Mickelson
Branden Grace is coming off of a rough stretch with a WD and a missed cut in his last 3 starts. Brandt Snedeker showed up in a big way for the WGC Mexico with a T7 finish. William McGirt and Andy Sullivan have both struggled lately with multiple missed cuts in their 5 previous events.
Pick: Brandt Snedeker
The final group is another interesting quartet of golfers. Matt Kuchar has done relatively well in the strong fields of the WGC events in the last 2 years. Zach Johnson has been trending downward as of late. Brendan Steele has been up and down in 2017. Since missing a few cuts to start off 2017, Tommy Fleetwood has been on fire. His style of play should fit well in Austin.
Pick: Tommy Fleetwood
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