The WGC-Dell Match Play is one of the most exciting weeks on the PGA Tour with five days of world-class action in Texas. Davis Riley couldn’t come up with the goods at the Valspar Championship, but we will hope for more luck at Austin Country Club, but first…
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WGC-Dell Match Play preview
Venue: Austin Country Club, Texas
Date: March 22-26, 2023
Course stats: Par 71; 7,108 yards
Course summary: A typical Pete Dye track, packed with perilous bunkers, water hazards, and undulating surfaces. The tree-lined fairways weave towards small Bermuda grass greens, and with wind a likely factor players will rely heavily on accuracy from tee to green. This strategic test boasts reachable par-5s and a driveable par-4, with a distinct change in terrain after the 6th hole as the players head into the hills. Fitness and fatigue will play a part in this event, with plenty of golf to be played for those progressing to the latter stages.
Purse: $20 million
Defending champion: Scottie Scheffler (beat Kevin Kisner 4&3)
Wednesday: Sky Sports Golf from 2.30pm and Main Event from 2.30pm
Thursday: Sky Sports Golf from 2.30pm and Main Event from 2.30pm
Friday: Sky Sports Golf from 3pm and Main Event from 6pm
Saturday: Sky Sports Golf from 12.30pm
Sunday: Sky Sports Golf from 3pm and Main Event from 7pm
2023 WGC-Dell Match Play betting tips
The Banker: Tyrrell Hatton @ 22/1 with Bet365
Tyrrell Hatton has got out of the group in three of his five starts here, which is remarkable consistency, but he’s yet to get past the final 16 stage so far.
I am happy to bank on that being the misfortune of his draws more than anything else, and this year, I think he has a kinder route to victory.
On the three occasions he has made it out of the group, Hatton has faced an inspired Seamus Power who finished 4th in the event last year, a course specialist in Matt Kuchar who went on to finish 2nd that year, and Cameron Smith, who we know is world class on his day.
Sure, Hatton may have to face Rory McIlroy in the last 16 matchups, but I could see Rory failing to make it out of his group, which would then leave Hatton a fairly easy matchup, by all accounts. In his group are Lucas Herbert, Russell Henley, and Ben Griffin, all players he’d expect to beat. A semi-final matchup with Jon Rahm could be on the cards, but like Rory, I think Rahm could suffer an early exit here, and I am extremely happy that Hatton avoids Scottie Scheffler and a couple of other big hitters, on the other side of the draw.
The Each-Way Play: Jason Day @ 30/1 with Bet365
I love Jason Day this week. His form arguably ranks him inside the top five in this field currently, and as a two-time winner of this event, including once at this golf course, this could be the place where he finally contends for a win.
The knock on Day of late has been the fact he’s not really getting into contention to win, despite his consistency, but this golf course and format should allow him to take advantage of a great run of form.
As a lower seed, he is now grouped with an elite in the game, and that is Collin Morikawa, and whilst the latter did get out of his group here, at the second time of asking, he was immediately knocked out by Abraham Ancer, who beat him 7&6. Morikawa is beatable, and given he is the biggest threat to Day getting out of the group, I will take my chances.
Day would have to face the winner of Viktor Hovland, Chris Kirk, Si Woo Kim, or Matt Kuchar, but I think he can overcome anyone that emerges from that group, especially as that is a group that looks tough to get out of, and the winner may well be fatigued by the time they get to playing Day.
The Aussie looks close to his best once again and can use this week as a confidence boost, ahead of the major season. Bet him to go all the way, even if he has to beat Jordan Spieth and Scottie Scheffler to get there.
The Other Each-Way Play: Will Zalatoris @ 33/1 with Bet365
Zalatoris has been rewarded with a fairly easy group on paper, with Ryan Fox, Harris English, and Andrew Putnam unlikely to give him too many problems, and it is mainly just Zalatoris’ health that could get in the way here.
To win this week, Zalatoris would need to play and win seven times, which may be a battle given his recent back injury, but having played a lighter schedule than many, I think he should be ok.
Advancing out of the group looks simple enough, and then he would face the winner of Tony Finau’s group in the final 16. Finau and Kurt Kitayama could both advance from that group, and Adrian Meronk may even be a dark horse, but I think Zalatoris is more than capable of beating anyone that emerges from there.
Yes, he would have to face Jon Rahm or anyone who has knocked him out at the quarter-final stage, but I think he presents fair enough value to do just that.
The Long Shot: Matt Kuchar @ 90/1 with Bet365
Everyone loves a long shot in this event, so why not take a chance on Matt Kuchar, who has finished 2nd and 3rd in his past two efforts here?
Yes, this would mean that Day was knocked out, but I am willing to take a chance that if Day falls, Kuchar is the one that inflicted that loss on him to advance to the Quarter Finals.
In 2021, his last visit here, Kuchar went 3-0 in a group that included Austin CC specialist Kevin Kisner, and world-class talents in Justin Thomas and Louis Oosthuizen. He then went on to beat Jordan Spieth and Brian Harman in the knockout stages eventually falling to Scottie Scheffler, who finished runner-up.
In 2019, he also impressed by making his way to the final, where he would eventually lose to Kevin Kisner. Kuchar once again emerged from a tough group that included Jon Rahm and then put together impressive wins over Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, and Lucas Bjerregaard who had just knocked out Tiger Woods.
Kuchar is playing well in patches this season with three top 12 finishes at the Fortinet, Sony Open, and most recently, Riviera, which suggests that when the course and event suits, he’s playing well enough to contend.
As an Austin CC specialist, and someone who has won this event, albeit at a different course, Kuchar ranks as one of the better longshots.
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