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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Twofer Tuesday: WGC-Dell Match Play

Twofer Tuesday goes rogue and tries a Fourfer Tuesday at the Dell Match Play.

2019 Defending champion Kevin Kisner

I'll explain the 'fourfer' bit in a minute. First a bit of gratuitous detail...

The WGC-Dell Match Play has been played since 1999 at a variety of courses around the USA but in 2016 it moved to the Austin Country Club in Austin TX, a par-71 playing around 7100 yards. The front nine is high ground while the back nine is lowland, making for some interesting shifts in strategy during the round.

Only the higest-ranked 64 players from the OWGR make the field, with the spots of any players who choose not to play being filled by the next highest player in line. Kevin Kisner is the 2019 defending champion since this event was a casualty of the pandemic last year. Coincidentally he was runner-up in 2018.

I'm calling this 'Fourfer Tuesday' because I'm going to pick four players this week; hopefully I will successfully pick the Final Four at this event. If I get supremely lucky -- which is unlikely, based on my past record at this event -- and all four of my choices at least make it out of pool play into the Sweet 16, I will be guaranteed four Top10s. (All of the losers from the Sweet 16 are given the same T9 finish.)

Because we've only played four WGCs at this course, you might find the past finals informative when making your own bracket.

  • 2016: Jason Day beat Louis Oosthuizen. J-Day is also the only player to win multiple Match Play titles.
  • 2017: Dustin Johnson beat Jon Rahm. DJ is the only player to have won all four WGCs.
  • 2018: Bubba Watson beat Kevin Kisner.
  • 2019: Kevin Kisner beat Matt Kuchar.

Here are my four picks, made before I ever looked at the Power Rankings for this event... and I was shocked to find that I picked the 1st, 2nd and 6th players in that ranking. I can only assume I am doomed! Moving clockwise around the bracket, starting at the upper left:

  • Pick #1: Paul Casey. Casey posted two runner-ups before the event moved to Texas, and I had him picked one of those years when he got sick the night before the finals. Casey is #2 in the Power Rankings.
  • Pick #2: Patrick Reed. Given Reed's dominance at international match play events, and his good showings on Tour so far this year, you have to think he'll do well here this week. Reed is #1 in the Power Rankings.
  • Pick #3: Jason Day. Jason has won here before and he seems to be in better health this year. He didn't make the Power Rankings at all, and I think a lot of people may be shocked if they don't pick him.
  • Pick #4: Bryson DeChambeau. Bryson has proven himself in match play, having won the 2015 US Amateur. And his new length, paired with his iron play, could give him quite an advantage playing to those tricky greens at Austin Country Club. Bryson was #6 in the Power Rankings.

GC's live coverage starts at 2pm ET on WEDNESDAY. Remember, the winner will have to play seven rounds of golf -- three days of pool play, then two days of 36 holes each. I'm really interested to see how Bryson's use of power with his irons works out since this may give us a peak into his Presidents Cup strategy later this year.

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