Over the next few days the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play is taking place at Austin Country Club in Texas. It promises to be an event filled with upsets and drama, writes Gary Lemke.
There are 64 players in the field, headed by world No1 Dustin Johnson. The field is split up into 16 groups of four players each and then they are in two opposite sides of the draw. Think of it as golf’s version of Wimbledon.
I just love golf’s Match Play format, but it really is a lottery. That’s probably what makes it such fun. It might also explain why the Ryder Cup, contested between the United States and Europe, is one of the greatest team rivalries and sporting spectacles there is.
I carried the bag for Ernie Els when he played in the 1988 British Amateur quarter-finals – and he was beaten 6&5 by the Englishman Nigel Graves at Royal Porthcawl.
Graves went on to turn pro and played five events on the European Tour. Els? Won the World Match Play seven times and became a golf icon.
So, I’m guessing for this week’s WGC-World Match Play Championships. I also took the Fantasy Bracket Challenge on the PGA Tour website and one of my picks for this week seems to be No 17 seed Paul Casey! He’s in a group where Webb Simpson is the highest-ranked player but Casey has been in good form recently. So, in giving three candidates to win the World Watch Play I’m going with Casey. My other two selections are Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa.
I am so tempted to include Rory McIlroy, but he’s switched swing coaches again, so there’s clearly something wrong with his game at the moment, although he’s such a competitor and talent that it could click overnight.
The rankings say that Johnson will meet Justin Thomas in the final, with Rahm and Morikawa being the two losing semi-finalists. If only it was as easy as that. There will unquestionably be surprise results along the way.
South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, seeded 22, is in a tough group. He plays Thomas, Kevin Kisner and Matt Kuchar and needs to win the group to reach the round of 16. It’s opne reason that I haven’t selected Thomas, because I feel there’s no guarantee he will come through this group.
Erik van Rooyen is the outsider in a group that includes Daniel Berger, Harris English and Brendon Todd – I fancy English to win this group – while Dylan Frittelli is also the outsider in a group alongside Tony Finau, Jason Kokrak and Will Zalatoris.