Preview: WGC Dell Match Play

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The WGC Dell Match Play brackets have been announced as DJ, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day headline at Austin Country Club this week.

Only four of the World's top 50 will be absent from the WGC Dell Match Play in Texas, where 64 of the World's best will be battling to win the second World Golf Championship of the year. 

With only two weeks to go until The Masters, a few top players have decided to skip the event to prioritse their preparation for the first major of the year.

However, the field will boast a wealth of exceptional players including Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day - who are all battling for that number one spot. 

For some the competition comes with extra incentive, as eight players in the field will be hoping a good finish or a win will see them get an invitation to The Masters at the beginning of April

WGC Dell Match Play Format: How does the WGC Dell Match-Play work?

The championship starts with pool play, with 16 groups of four players playing round-robin matches, on Wednesday through Friday.

The top 16 seeded players are allocated to the 16 groups, one in each group. The remaining 48 players are placed into three pools (seeds 17–32, seeds 33–48, seeds 49–64). Each group has one player randomly selected from each pool to complete the group.

All group play matches are limited to 18 holes with one point awarded for a win and one-half point for a halved match. Ties for first place in a group are broken by a sudden-death stroke play playoff, beginning on hole 1.

The winners of each group advance to a single-elimination bracket on the weekend, with the round of 16 and quarterfinals on Saturday, and the semi-finals, finals, and consolation match on Sunday.

Jason Day is defending champion of the WGC Dell Match Play


What are the WGC Dell Match Play brackets?

FULL LIST OF GROUPS (World Ranking in brackets)

Group 1: Dustin Johnson (1), Jimmy Walker (22), Martin Kaymer (46), Webb Simpson (64)

Group 2: Rory McIlroy (2), Emiliano Grillo (30), Gary Woodland (37), Soren Kjeldsen (68)

Group 3: Jason Day (3), Marc Leishman (32), Lee Westwood (49), Pat Perez (62)

Group 4: Hideki Matsuyama (4), Louis Oosthuizen (27), Ross Fisher (53), Jim Furyk (57)

Group 5: Jordan Spieth (6), Ryan Moore (36), Yuta Ikeda (41), Hideto Tanihara (60)

Group 6 Justin Thomas (7), Matt Fitzpatrick (31), Kevin Na (52), Chris Wood (55)

Group 7: Sergio Garcia (10), Jon Rahm (25), Kevin Chappell (42), Shane Lowry (59)

Group 8: Alex Noren (11), Francesco Molinari (29), Bernd Wiesberger (40), Thongchai Jaidee (63)

Group 9: Patrick Reed (12), Brooks Koepka (24), Kevin Kisner (38), Jason Dufner (65)

Group 10: Tyrrell Hatton (14), Rafa Cabrera-Bello (26), Jeunghun Wang (45), Charles Howell III (67)

Group 11: Danny Willett (15), Russell Knox (21), Bill Haas (47), K.T. Kim (70)

Group 12: Paul Casey (16), Charl Schwartzel (28), Ben An (51), Joost Luiten (66)

Group 13: Bubba Watson (17), Thomas Pieters (34), Scott Piercy (43), Jhonattan Vegas (61)

Group 14: Phil Mickelson (18), J.B. Holmes (35), Daniel Berger (39), Si Woo Kim (69)

Group 15: Branden Grace (19), Brandt Snedeker (23), William McGirt (54), Andy Sullivan (58)

Group 16: Matt Kuchar (20), Tommy Fleetwood (33), Zach Johnson (50), Brendan Steele (56)

To find out more, visit PGA Tour for a breakdown of who could possible make the final of the WGC Dell Match Play



Who is in form for the WGC Dell Match Play?

Dustin Johnson: The current World No.1 won hasn’t finished outside of the top 5 since the first week of February, and won both of his last two tournaments at the Genesis Open and the WGC Mexico. He’s now had two weeks off to practice ahead of the Masters, and will take confidence from last year's quarter-final place that his game suits the course.

Rory McIlroy: McIlroy lost last year in the semi-finals to eventual winner Jason Day, but he is targeting a win in Austin. Having only returned from a rib injury two weeks ago, he’s finished T7 and T4 in the past two events – hitting an incredibly impressive stride of form at the perfect time heading in to Augusta.

Jason Day
: It wasn’t the defence Day was looking for at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but he heads in to this week with a title to defend. The World No.3 withdrew from the WGC Mexico with illness, but with a T23 on Sunday and having won it twice in the last three years - he is sure to have a large amount of confidence. 

Jordan Spieth: Like DJ, Spieth has also had two weeks off, but will come in to this week on an excellent run of form. He’s had four top 10s and a win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2017, and hasn’t finished in a worse spot than T22. He suffered a shock defeat to Louis Oosthuizen in the last 16 of last year’s match play, but the Texan native looks in good shape for this week.

Hatton, Fleetwood & Fitzpatrick: The trio of English men are certainly making their presence known on the PGA Tour stage, and all come in to the tournament with an impressive resume. Tyrrell Hatton has had two top 5s and a top 10 in his last three events, and Tommy Fleetwood followed up his second-place finish at the WGC Mexico with a top 10 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Matthew Fitzpatrick comes in to the tournament with two T16 finishes in his last two WGC events, and threatened the top of the leaderboard up until the final day at Bay Hill.

Tommy Fleetwood finished 2nd in the WGC Mexico, and is in a great run of form


Who ISN'T playing at the WGC Dell Match Play?

Henrik Stenson isn’t playing in Austin for the second year in a row, saying that he doesn't like the round-robin format of the tournament. 

“I was not that keen on the round robin,” Stenson said at the Valspar Championship. “To me, match play is do-or-die. Either I win or I lose. I kind of like that format.”

Justin Rose is another of the World's best that won't be playing in Texas. The Olympic Champion said that while it was a difficult decision, he felt match-play two weeks before the Masters wouldn't help his preparation. 

"It was a very difficult decision,” he told Golf World. “I had to look at what I felt was maybe the best preparation for me to do well at Augusta, and that was 72-hole stroke play. Guaranteeing that type of golf. Match play is a fun format, but it’s unpredictable.

Rickie Fowler has had a great run of form but prioritised the Arnold Palmer Invitational over this event, putting his Masters preparation first.

“For me, four (events) in a row is just something I don’t do. I’ve tested it out, I played five before during my rookie year, and it was an absolute no,” he said. “It’s just the mental side of it, trying to stay mentally sharp. Especially with a major being the fourth one, that’s when you need to be the freshest.”  

Rickie Fowler prioritised the Arnold Palmer Invitational instead of the WGC Dell Match Play this year

Adam Scott is a notable fan of a shorter tour schedule, and certainly didn't feel like he had to apologise for missing tournaments that he didn't particularly like. 

"Look, I got to the point where I will not keep everyone happy all the time," Scott said. "There are 42 events. I play not even half that many. I'll have my favorites like everyone else. Things change all the time."

Adam Hadwin possibly the best excuse of them all. The Valspar Champion declined his invite to the WGC Dell Match Play as it clashes with his wedding. He will be putting his honeymoon on hold to play in the Masters, however.

The good news? Joost Luiten and K.T. Kim are two of the players drafted in, and they are both hoping a good finish will propel them up the World rankings and in to the field at Augusta National. 


The Masters: Race To Qualify

Eight players will be hoping to confirm their spots at The Masters in April, and only have this week to make it inside the top 50 in the World before invitations are sent out on March 27.

Both Tommy Fleetwood and Jeunghun Wang currently sit inside the top 50, with Tommy all but guaranteed to be going thanks to a great run of results that sees him at World No.33. 

Meanwhile, Ross Fisher, K.T. Kim, Joost Luiten, Charles Howell III, Hideto Tanihara and Thongchai Jaidee all still have work to do - and time is running out. If any of them fail to make it by World ranking qualification, they will have one last opportunity at the Shell Houston Open the week before the tournament starts. 

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