This week’s WGC Matchplay moves to another new home in Austin Country Club and, at just 7,043 yards, the Texas course is a far cry from previous homes like Dove Mountain – and, with big-hitting not an obvious advantage, this really could be won by any of the 64 contenders. (Place your bets by Wednesday morning though as it’s a Wednesday start this week).
This year’s format sees the players split into 16 groups of 4 in a round-robin format. A win gets players 1 point, whilst matches that are all square after 18 holes will get players half a point each, and only the group winner will progress to the final stages. It’s worth also noting that the winner of group 1 will play the winner of group 16, and 2 plays 15 etc.
The winner will ultimately have to play 7 matches, possibly in windy conditions, and it’s worth noting that they’ll also have to play 36 holes on both Saturday and Sunday – so this isn’t for the faint-hearted.
- Spieth, Thomas, Dubuisson, Donaldson
- Mcdowell, Day, Casey, Jaideee
- McIlroy, Na, Kaufman, Olesen
- Watson, Kizzire, Grillo, Holmes
- Fowler, Dufner, An, Piercy
- Scott, Pieters, Haas, Wood
- Rose, Gomez, Kuchar, Lahiri
- Dustin Johnson, Streb, Walker, Aphibarnrat
- Reed, Berger, Mickleson, Fitzpatrick
- Willett, Van Zyl, Koepka, Horschel
- Grace, Knox, Lingmerth, Kirk
- Matsuyama, Cabrero-Bello, Kisner, Kjeldson
- Garcia, Westwood, Leishman, Moore
- Zach Johnson, Frazer, Lowry, Kaymer
- Snedeker, Hoffman, Schwartzel, Lee
- Oosthuisen, Jones, Wiesberger, Sullivan
Match-play really is a minefield, and it will be interesting to see if the likes of Spieth, McIlroy, Day and Scott want such an exhausting week with 2 weeks to go to the Masters – I wouldn’t – and it may well be better to concentrate on shorter-hitters who will see this a great opportunity to get their hands on a WGC trophy. Therefore, I’m proposing taking four such players against the field.
1 point each-way Zach Johnson @ 66/1 (Paddy Power, Coral) ¼ odds 4 places
Last year’s Open Champion looks over-priced on a layout that should suit his eye, and he has plenty of winning form in Texas. Group foes Lowry and Kaymer have been mainly out of form this year and, even though Frazer won recently, he’s not in the same class. A possible meeting with McIlroy awaits in round 2, but he’s well up to beating the Irishman on such a layout.
1 point each-way Graeme McDowell @ 100/1 (365, Skybet) ¼ odds 4 places
Jason Day and Paul Casey are tough group opponents, but this short course certainly gives McDowell every chance of progressing, and his Ryder Cup experiences show he loves a scrap.
1 point each-way Matt Fitzpatrick @ 150/1 (Various bookmakers) ¼ odds 4 places
The young Englishman should be licking his lips at the prospect of taking on the big boys on such a short track, and his putting will give group opponents Reed and Mickleson plenty to think about. He’s also got one eye on a Ryder Cup spot – and it’s an ideal chance to enhance his matchplay credentials.
1 point each-way Andy Sullivan @ 70/1 (Betfred, Skybet) ¼ odds 4 places
Really established himself as a force in world golf over the last season, and he’s another who’ll love this type of layout. A Ryder Cup spot is definitely on his agenda, and proved his matchplay prowess in the Royal Trophy at the start of the season.