We’re lucky to get one of the most exciting events on tour this week as the format switches to match play. Match play brings out the best (and worst) of some players and the unpredictability will make it a fascinating watch.
Overlooking Lake Austin, the Austin Country Club in Texas is a 7,073 yard, par 71 challenge founded in 1899 (though the course has moved a couple of times since then). The course mixes lowlands and highlands, making it relatively unique for the state and a challenge for players. Aggressive play here can be rewarded (see Rory McIlroy’s highlights from last year), but can also be severely penalised with the closely mown catchment areas around the greens and multiple hazards.
Jason Day backed up a win a week earlier at the Arnold Palmer by winning the 2016 matchplay edition and climb to the top of the world golf rankings. Jason Day got through his group that included Graeme McDowell, Thongchai Jade and Paul Casey, before defeating Brandt Snedeker, Brooks Koepka, and McIlroy in the knockout stages. His match against McIlroy was an instant classic which Day took out with a 12-foot par putt on the final hole.
In the final, he beat South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen by 5&4, capping off an incredible effort against the toughest field in golf. We don’t think Day is good value this year. He’s at $17 but has too little competitive golf under his belt to go all the way this week.
Dustin Johnson $9
After winning his last two starts at the Genesis Open and the WGC Mexico Championship, he’s trying to become first to win three consecutive starts since Rory McIlroy in 2014. Huge chance to win back to back WGCs.
Rory McIlroy $8
A beaten semi-finalist last year and a massive matchplay threat. Thrives in the format and his Ryder Cup singles match against Patrick Reed will go down as one of the greatest matches in the history of the format. Fourth last week.
Louis Oosthuizen $56
Match play specialist Oosthuizen has warmed up for the event with 3rd at the Waste Management Open. A top five in the ISPS Handa World Super 6 and a top ten at the Nedbank in South Africa round off a well-travelled, high performing last few months.
Patrick Reed $41
In horrible form this year, with just one top ten and lying a lowly 75th in the FedEx Cup, but is a true competitor in the match play format and it could bring out the best in him. Round of 16 last year before losing to DJ.
An Byeong-Hun $111
A slightly left-field tip is the South Korean 25-year old An Byeong-Hun who made the last 16 before succumbing to injury and conceding to Cabrera-Bello. Not enjoying the best season on TOUR this year, but could get through a group that features, like he did last year.
*Odds from Bet365.
Hard to choose between McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, the huge hitters that intimidate others with their length. But we’ll go McIlroy again this week – just a little better in facets of the game that don’t involve the driver.