Matt Jones was awesome tee to green last week and took down a weaker field at the Honda Classic for his first victory in six years. The article picks were pretty average, but we did hit a Sungjae top 10 and won the Steele over Fowler matchup easily.
This week features the most unique event on the calendar as the guys head to Austin Country Club for the WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play. The entire event is match play pitting guys head to head every day until the last man stands. This event has not had tracking data since 2016 when Austin Country Club began hosting, so there are not historical stats to look at.
The field is absolutely loaded, as all WGC’s are. The format is obviously very different than a regular event with the match play set up. Players are split into four-player groups via random draw, with every group having one player from 1-16, 17-32, 33-48, and 49-64 in OWGR. They then play a round-robin in each group Wednesday through Friday, and the player with the most points after those matches in each group moves on to the 16 man bracket.
After the 16 man bracket is set, it is just straight match play in bracket format from there with two rounds, both Saturday and Sunday, for those who make the final four. Getting through your group is always tough because players can improve or regress so much from round to round.
Underdogs in the group betting have been a strong play over the years in this event and likely where the best value is. However, trying to pin down which player will be the one to find it for those few rounds is tough. Austin Country Club is a Pete Dye design and requires really good all-around play to succeed.
There isn’t exactly a player type who has succeeded at Austin Country Club consistently, nor is there a player type who does particularly well in match play. I will mostly be going off of the recent form and trying to find some guys with either a really high floor or a high ceiling player who could make a bunch of birdies.
In match play, you have to be solid in the short game to save holes and put pressure on your opponent, so I like the good putters and short-game players this week a little more than usual. Kevin Kisner and Patrick Reed have proven that shorter hitters and good putters tend to be excellent match play guys.
WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play – Outright Picks
Since this event is so unique, the betting market is as well. You can still bet outrights to win the whole tournament, but the other main bet would be guys to win their four-player group. This also offers fun round-by-round matchup betting as well as live betting options as the field gets pared down to 16 and beyond. I will highlight a couple outright picks and then go through some group winner bets I like.
Collin Morikawa +2200 (Fanduel)
Morikawa is just a nice safe option to bet on. He is always making cuts, and he is starting to win at a pretty impressive clip after he took down basically this same field two starts ago at the last WGC.
His ball-striking is elite of the elite on tour, and that will play anywhere. In this field, he is 2nd in SG: Approach and 4th in SG: Ball Striking. He also ranks top 10 in birdies and Opportunities gained per fantasynational.com. He just is unrelenting with his irons.
If his putter shows up with his irons, his opponents will get so annoyed watching him stuff irons all day, and eventually, his high floor and higher ceiling will win out. Plus, Morikawa drives it in play and doesn’t make many big numbers keeping him in basically every hole.
Jason Day +5000 (Draftkings)
This is more of a value play. Day has won this event twice and seems to thrive in match play. His game is really turning around with four straight made cuts finishing no worse than 35th. He has gained strokes, putting in three of four events as well.
Day’s game is buoyed by awesome short game play that saves him holes in match play. His putting had gone away for a bit but seems to be back. Day consistently gains off the tee, and his irons were good his last time out.
In an event like this, I like Day to find his way out of his group, and he is plenty good enough to beat anyone straight up for 18 holes. I like the value given the other numbers on the board.
WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play – Group Plays
Group 8 – Sergio Garcia +230
Garcia is on fire with his irons gaining 8.3 and 6.7 strokes on approach his last two starts. Sergio is really a great driver of the ball, which will be important here, and is one of the better around the green players.
Garcia has issues putting, but his tee to green play should raise his ceiling pretty high. If his putting gets going, he can definitely win. Garcia also has a good track record in match play both in this event and Ryder Cups and President’s Cups.
His group mates are Tyrell Hatton, Lee Westwood, and Matt Wallace. Hatton and Westwood are legit competitors, and Westwood is coming off consecutive runner-ups. However, he should be a bit gassed and ready for a break.
Hatton comes in off a missed cut but with good form before that. I just like the value of Sergio, who only has to win two out of three in reality in this group.
Group 9 – Paul Casey +160
I’m going with the favorite in this group based on form. Casey has played great this year with four straight top 10’s plus some good finishes, including a win overseas. Casey’s solid all-around game is good for match play too.
Casey ranks in the top 20 in the field in SG: Approach, Bogey Avoidance, Opportunities Gained, and SG: Around the Green over the last 24 rounds. His short game has really improved, and he is always a great tee to green player.
His competition is also not in great form. Webb Simpson is a great player but is coming off a missed cut, and his track record in the match play events is subpar.
Talor Gooch and Mackenzie Hughes are nice players, but neither are lighting the world on fire, and Casey is just in a different class of player than them. I like Casey a lot here, and he will be a tough out in the bracket.
Group 11 – Cameron Smith +240
Smith isn’t the numbers darling this week, but I love his game for this course and match play. Smith is a super short game player, and players who can scramble for pars and birdies really succeed in match play.
Smith gets up and down from everywhere, that will affect the other players mentally. Smith is coming off three straight top 20’s gaining strokes putting and on approach in all three. He is in good form, and his style of play should play up a little in match play.
Smith is faced up against Rory, Poulter, and Lanto Griffin. Poulter and Rory are not in good form, both coming off missed cuts. Rory hasn’t been horrible this year but admitted he is kind of lost with his game at the moment.
Poulter is a killer match play guy, but he just isn’t the same player anymore and has not played well in a while. I like Lanto, and his form is nice, but I like how Smith’s game sets up here a little better, and Smith is just better than Lanto.
WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play – The Watchlist
Other players I like: These guys could be group bets or just players to bet in round by round matchups Wednesday through Friday.
Conners is on a great run of finishes right now with eight top 25’s in his last ten starts with two top 10’s in a row the last two weeks. Conners may have figured something out with his putting, gaining over three strokes putting the last two weeks.
Conners’ putting is usually awful, but when he breaks even, he can contend. His ball striking is elite, ranking top 10 in the field over the last 36 rounds in SG: Off the Tee, SG: Approach, and Opportunities Gained. His ball striking gives him a high floor, and his recent putting success gives him win upside.
Conners should have a shot in his group at +300, but I really like him against Wolff when they play.
Kokrak has three straight top 10 finishes to his name coming in this week. His form is elite, and he has had some success at Pete Dye tracks as well. Kokrak is a bomber, and DJ and Rory have shown bombers can succeed here.
Kokrak’s numbers over his last 12 rounds are outstanding. He ranks inside the top 10 in the field in SG: Off the Tee, SG: Ball Striking, Opportunities Gained, birdies, and Bogey Avoidance. He is in good form and fits Austin Country Club nicely.
Kokrak got a tough draw with Finau and Zalatoris, but he is worth a flier or just play him in his matchups each day that he isn’t up against Finau.