The groups have been drawn, so NCG’s resident expert has picked out his WGC-Match Play Championship betting tips. Who is he backing for glory?
Venue: Austin Country Club, Texas, USA
Date: March 27-31, 2019
Course stats: Par 71, 7,108 yards
Course summary: The fourth time the event has been staged on the banks of the Colorado River, this course is known for its big greens.
Purse: $10.25 million
Defending champion: Bubba Watson
Weather forecast: Chances of rain for most of the week, as well as thunderstorms, with wind a factor on Thursday and Friday
Wednesday: Featured groups, Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event, 2.15pm; Sky Sports Golf, 6pm; Main Event, 6pm and 10.30pm
Thursday: Featured groups, Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event, 2.15pm; Sky Sports Golf, 6pm; Sky Sports Main Event, 6pm and 10.30pm
Friday: Featured groups, Sky Sports Golf, 2.15pm, and Main Event, 5pm; Sky Sports Golf, 6pm; Sky Sports Main Event, 6pm and 10pm
Saturday: Sky Sports Golf, 2pm; Sky Sports Main Event, 3.15pm
Sunday: Sky Sports Golf, 3pm; Sky Sports Main Event, 7pm
WGC Match Play Championship betting tips: Outside selections
The Match Play has been a tough tournament to find a big winning outsider in recent years. Since its move to Austin, it’s been won by Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson.
Rory McIlroy and Matt Kuchar are among those who’ve also lifted the distinctive Wedgwood Trophy away from Texas. Kevin Sutherland’s triumph, in 2002, feels a long time ago.
That’s not to say that big priced contenders can’t make a run and, with each-way terms being offered for those who reach the semi-finals, there’s a chance we can get someone further down the list of fancies landed at a big price.
There’s a couple of Englishman at three figure prices who take my eye and both have been showing good form.
The price for Eddie Pepperell (110/1 with bet365) seems a touch generous given the strides he has made over the past 12 months.
Yes, he has never played the Match Play. But he’d never competed at The Players until a fortnight ago and managed to finish in a tie for 3rd.
New pastures don’t seem to deter Pepperell. Look at Gullane, where he was 2nd at the Scottish Open, or Walton Heath and his triumph at the British Masters.
If we’re told The Players is statistically the best field in golf then the 28-year-old has proved he can mix it with the very best. It’s a remarkable journey from the player that lost his card in 2016.
I’d like to think his cerebral approach to the game – shots that are thought out rather than simply blunt force trauma – could suit him here. Certainly confidence won’t be higher. Remarkably, he’s still underrated by the bookies on the world stage. We might be able to use that to our advantage.
My colleague Mark Townsend wrote earlier this year how Ryder Cup vice captain Robert Karlsson was paired with Matt Wallace (90/1) at the Made in Denmark – the final qualifying event for the three-day festival at Le Golf National.
Wallace remarked to the Swede: “I know I can’t play myself in but I’m going to give you a proper headache.” He went on to win the tournament.
That’s exactly the sort of bull-headed defiance we want in a potential Match Play champ. It’s why he’s also included in my each-way list.
This time last year, Wallace was winning the Indian Open – one of three European Tour crowns in 2018.
He’s continued to maintain that kind of form this season, finishing 2nd in the Dubai desert and challenging strongly at the Arnold Palmer Invitational before eventually ending tied for 6th.
Top 30 at Sawgrass, he appears comfortable among the PGA Tour’s elite. While it remains to be seen who he gets in his bracket, his price seems on the large side.
If you’re focusing on Englishmen you can’t leave out Ian Poulter (28/1).
A winner in 2010 and a semi-finalist three years later, he was a quarter-finalist last year on his first go in Austin.
Having performed strongly in the first few weeks of the year, things have slowed down a little – though he was very prominent until a disastrous Saturday at Sawgrass.
I don’t need to describe his qualities in man-to-man combat here. Simply replay Saturday evening at the 2012 Ryder Cup and be assured he’ll strain every sinew to win his matches.
That’s who Steve believes could survive towards the weekend, but who will actually pick up that Wedgwood Trophy? He reveals all on the next page…