Paul Casey was able to keep the Euro champions streak alive after successfully defending his Valspar title. The Florida swing provided some great entertainment and now the Tour moves to Texas. First up is the WGC Match Play in Austin. The article this week is going to be a different format and a little shorter than normal due to this unique event. Instead of laying out a course preview and providing some key stats to look at I’m just going to walk through the format. My first recommendation would be to play lighter than normal. A match play event is much more difficult to predict than stroke play. Stats and common sense kind of go out the window and upsets are common. The key is getting the Final Four correct, if you can do that you have a shot to win big. Let’s take a closer look at the 2019 WGC Dell Match Play.
Austin Country Club in Austin, TX. This is a Pete Dye designed track which we do not have a lot of history on, but the tournament was played here the past 2 years. Austin Country Club is a Par 71 that plays 7,7073 yards. Although a short course, long hitters do not necessarily have a big advantage here because the fairways are tree lined. There is some water on the course and tee shot placement will be more important than distance. Strategy is going to be extremely important this week as guys can really force their opponents hands with some good shots. The greens are TifEagle overseeded with POA and Bent and are average size. The greens will play firm and run fast which means the players could have a tough time holding longer approach shots. Like most Pete Dye courses the fairways narrow the closer they get to the green. We can expect to see a lot of wedges into these tough greens.
64 golfers will be split into 16 groups of 4 players each (called pods). The top 16 players (via the World Golf Ranking as of March 18) will each be placed into one of the 16 groups. The remaining 48 players are split into 3 remaining pools and 1 player from each pool is randomly selected to join the Top 16 players to complete the 16 groups of 4. Each group will then play a round robin where every player plays each other in Match Play. The winner of each group will move on to the Sweet 16. Starting with the Sweet 16 the rest of the tournament will be single elimination, however there is a consolation match for the players who lose the semi final match.
I’m not looking to heavily at stats this week as I feel recent form and match play experience is more important. But if you do want to look at some stats I would start with the following:
- SG:T2G – Good placement off the tee and greens in regulation will be a big key this week. There is lots of water on this course and the greens are difficult to hold so I’m looking for all around players. Guys who can get to the green and put pressure on their opponents will be the ones moving on.
- SG:App – With tough greens we need guys who can limit the necessity for tricky short game shots. Players who are constantly having to scramble are not going to win many holes. In a match play event the overall score doesn’t matter so I want guys who will give themselves looks to win holes.
- Prox:100-125 – It’s a shorter course so most guys will have a lot of wedges in to the greens. Guys who can not only hold the greens but stick it close will have a great shot to win holes. When DJ won here 2 years ago it wasn’t because of his distance, but because of his stellar wedge play. Taking advantage of this yardage is a must this week.
Elite 8 Picks
Nailing down the Final 4 is a must and that starts with getting your guys to the Elite 8. Make sure not to play guys who are playing against each other early on in the tournament. Below are some guys that I think have a real shot at getting to Saturday afternoon.
- Rory McIlroy ($11,700)
- Dustin Johnson ($11,400)
- Jon Rahm ($10,600)
- Brooks Koepka ($10,300)
- Tiger Woods ($9,200)
- Sergio Garcia ($8,500)
- Patrick Cantlay ($8,400)
- Ian Poulter ($7,700)
- Louis Oosthuizen ($7,500)
- Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($7,500)
- Chucky 3Sticks ($7,400)
- Billy Horschel ($7,300)
- Jim Furyk ($7,200)
- Russell Knox ($6,600)
Have fun this week and enjoy this unique format. As always feel free to reach out @rblum8. Good luck!