The usual straight knockout format for this tournament has been abandoned, and replaced with a 16 x 4-man group round-robin stage. The winners of each group will then go into a predetermined knockout round-of-last-16 and continue in that format until we find a winner.
If you’ve not bet on matchplay before, it’s one of the trickier events as any of the 64 players who are playing here can beat each other on any given day. However, as each player has to play 3 games in the round robin stage, there’s a little more wiggle room for the better players who could still progress to the round of last 16 by winning 2 of their opening 3 group matches.
The bookies are paying ¼ odds 1-2-3-4, meaning if you reach the semi-finals you’ll collect on each-way bets – and with that in mind it seems wise to back one player in each quarter of the draw.
World Number One Rory Mcilroy is in the first quarter as is Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson, but none of the trio have yet to really convince in matchplay – and I’d sooner take them on with Paul Casey who absolutely seems to thrive in the format. Casey has twice finished second in this event and is a previous Volvo World Matchplay Champion. He’s also playing as well as he’s done for a long-time and has posted four top-10 finishes in his last 6 PGA Tour events.
The presence of Bubba Watson, Ricky Fowler, Keegan Bradley and Brooks Koepka shows just how well someone is going to have to play to emerge triumphant from the second quarter – but one man who’s been playing well all season is JB Holmes. He’s posted a win and two runner-up spots this year – and makes enough birdies to beat anyone on a going day.
JB Holmes 1 point each-way @ 50/1(various)
I don’t think there is anyone in the world who loves matchplay more than Ian Poulter, a previous winner of this event and the Volvo World Matchplay. And, despite Europe’s Ryder Cup postman’s failure to be the match winner in last year’s Ryder Cup, that’s motivated him to start this season in excellent form.
Ian Poulter 1 point each-way @ 35/1 (Paddy Power or Stan James)
The fourth quarter looks the most difficult of all as it houses Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, but you just had to love Patrick Reed’s enthusiasm for the format in the Ryder Cup – and he’s a shade of value to beat the two lower-priced runners.
1 point each-way Patrick Reed @ 28/1 (Betfred)