With March Madness is full swing, there is no better time for the PGA TOUR to slot the Match Play event. Bravo, now let’s see if we can break it down a little.
The course is Austin Country Club, a Pete Dye Design that plays around 7,100 yards. Last year was the first time it’s hosted this event and we saw Jason Day take down Louis Oosthuizen in the finale with Rory McIlroy and Rafa Cabrera Bello playinmg the 3rd/4th place match.
The first thing we notice is a lot of firepower. This wasn’t always the case back at Dove Mountain where there was a four-year stretch of winners that included Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald, and Ian Poulter. That could be due to the course setup favoring big hitters or partially due to the wind that this area of Texas will produce this time of year. Last year, the wind was 15 mph+ on 3-of-5 days.
There was a lot of chalk that hit last year, but again, that’s not always the case. Don’t be afraid to throw a dart in this format (Bracket Challenge) and don’t waste a top pick if you’re doing One-and-Done. The bad luck can go against a really strong play in the H2H format, as luck of the draw plays a big part in the Match Play format.
Alex Noren… His recent form is nothing to write home about but don’t that fool you. He’s a proven winner on the European Tour and his Match Play record is solid enough. He won five matches at last year’s Paul Lawrie Match Play and took down Dustin Johnson 5&4 back at the 2013 WGC-Match Play. They could be in for a rematch if both make it to the Elite 8. Noren attended Oklahoma State so he should be relatively familiar in this area of the U.S.
Jhonattan Vegas … Going with the Texas Longhorn angle here. Texas often practices at Austin CC so Vegas should know this track at least a little. Plus his group has Bubba Watson and Scott Piercy who are both struggling with form at the moment. Then Thomas Pieters who crushed at the Ryder Cup but how much of that was based on team strategy/playing with Rory/momentum/Hazeltine setup? Prior to the Ryder Cup his match play record looks quite disappointing (1-2-1).
Jordan Spieth … He tops my rankings, which you’ll see below. The added bonus is his familiarity with Austin, Texas. He’s played the track dozens of times during his short stint at Texas and considers this his second home.
My WGC-Match Play RANKINGS … These rankings take a look at overall skill (Baseline SGT), Current Play over the last 10 weeks with an emphasis on volume of good play (Form), and performance in Head-to-Head Matches (Match Play Rating). For the Total Score column, I took Baseline + Form + (Match Play x 2). Feel free to weight however you see fit.