Do-or-die for top-ranked golf pros in WGC Match Play

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This week’s game plan for the world’s top-ranked golf pros is simple: Come out firing at the pin from the very first hole.

Welcome to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championships. The five-day event is being played at Austin (Texas) Country Club and deals with a unique format–match play.

The field will feature 62 of the top 64 players in the world. Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott have bowed out leaving room for Satoshi Kodaira and Luke List to receive a spot in this elite field.

So the firepower is here, but that might not be good enough this week. Players will need a little luck. The match play format puts the emphasis on a hot start because trying to rally in this event if you’re down early is easier said than done, especially against world-class players.

The format is match play with the top 16 players earning the top 16 seeds. The rest of the field was set with blind draws on Monday and will form 16 four-man groups. Win your bracket and you move on to the final 16 where it’s win-or-go-home. Sounds simple but you’ve got to beat out each of the other three players in your group for that to have a chance of happening.

Figuring out a champion will definitely come down to endurance as the winner will play seven matches over five days (a single match on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to get down to the final 16 followed by two matches on Saturday and two more matches on Sunday, including the finale).

So who has the firepower, the stamina, the game and the cutthroat style to win?

We’re going with a familiar name: Dustin Johnson, 10-1. He’s been at or near the top of the leaderboard for most of 2019 and is one of the fitness junkies on Tour. He’s as steady as they come emotion-wise…he never gets too up or too down with his play. He plods along (well, if you call 300-plus yard drives plodding) and when he won the WGC Mexico in 2017, he also won the match play event. Well, he won the WGC Mexico this year so…well, it’s not too difficult to see where we’re going with this.

A couple of others you can’t count out are the usual cast of characters, but for different reasons.

Rory McIlroy (10-1) seems to be in the top five every week and his game is certainly at a high level especially after winning The Players. Give him a little momentum in a match and you’re done.

Paul Casey (25-1) gives bettors another hot player with great odds. He won for the second straight year at Valspar this past week (something no other player had done prior), was T3 in the WGC event in Mexico a month ago and was second at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks prior to that.

There’s also an alternate event for those not ranked high enough to get into the WGC event. The Corales Puntacana Championship in the Dominican Republic has been elevated from a Web.com event to a PGA Tour event so there’s a lot of money and FedEx Cup points on the line.

Two players to watch: Jhonattan Vegas is 16-1 and coming off a third-place finish at The Players and Graeme McDowell is 30-1 if you’re looking for longer odds. 

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About the Author
Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 18-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas including 10 years as a writer/editor with VegasGolfer Magazine. He also contributes to the GolfNow Network of websites and Las Vegas Golf Insider.

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