WGC Match Play - Fordy's Golf Tips
After the high of the Players, and the small lull of the Valspar Championship, we change tact this week, and it feels great to welcome the Matchplay back into our lives. Unpopular opinion, maybe, but I really like the Dell Matchplay and I really enjoy it as a betting perspective. There is something about the lower ranked players thriving in a different format, a lot of form can be thrown out the window and picking your players in parlays/acca’s to win their group can actually be really good fun. I hope you can all join me in finding the fun of it all, and hopefully, I can help give some insight into some of my thinking for this week.
I’ll try not to bore you, but it’s worth quickly mentioning the format for those of you that don’t know. So, there are 64 players, the 64 best in the world, minus the LIV players and those who have decided not to turn up. Those players are split into 4 pools of 16. Something like you would get in NCAA or Champions League. Those seeded 1-16 won’t be drawn together and likewise those 17-32 and so on all the way up to #64 who this week is Cam Davis. Once all 64 players have been spilt into 16 groups of 4, they all play each other once, so every golfer this week will play a minimum of 3 matches. Hope you are following, once they’ve played each other once across Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, only 1 player in each group goes through to the last 16 and then it filters through playing each other til the last 2 are left for the final on Sunday.
What’s really great from a betting perspective this week is that you can see all the seeds in their brackets before the tourney starts and on which side of the draw all the players are in You can really take an educated guess based on who has a good draw or a tough group and hedge your plays all around that.
Austin Country Club …
So we are in the state of Texas, back to a traditional Pete Dye course. For those of you who know your courses, as Pete Dye always dishes up, it’s a small to medium track, uneven fairways, tough Par 3’s and scoreable Par 4’s and 5’s, especially for those longer of the tee.
7,108 yards, par-71 and its no pushover but it really is a typical risk reward golf course which provides plenty of birdies if you put it in the right places, a really great place for Matchplay actually. It is a real shame this event is not on the calendar next year, I’ll miss it.
TifEagle Bermuda for fairways and greens, and putting of course this week, a huge factor for me. Yes, a slight angle on Bermuda positive percentage for those better on that surface but, I think I can afford to fade all those players that haven’t putted well this year, no matter how good a player they are, putting really is for dough this week, more than any other.
Matchplay Winners: 2022: Scottie Scheffler, 18/1; 2021: Billy Horschel, 90/1; 2019: Kevin Kisner, 80/1; 2018: Bubba Watson, 50/1; 2017: Dustin Johnson, 10/1; 2016: Jason Day, 14/1; 2015 Rory McIlroy, 11/1; 2014: Jason Day, 20/1; 2013: Matt Kuchar, 35/1; 2012: Hunter Mahan, 50/1; 2011: Luke Donald, 35/1; 2010: Ian Poulter, 28/1.
Winners in the past have all had some indication of playing well in Matchplay format, so I believe we can fade those that don’t really have any Matchplay data to go on. I also like the fact winners here haven’t necessarily come here off the back of like a Top 5 finish or a win and now we are away from the east coast again, you can definitely expect to see a few surprises crop up, certainly, ones that wouldn’t have followed the scrip in Florida in the past few weeks.
Aside from the form and the putting, I don’t want to look to closely into the factors on how you will plot your way around Austin CC. I believe it’s more about the mental and physical ability to beat the men in your group rather than how the course suits you. I have no doubt if this was a regular PGA tour strokeplay event, you would see scores here through the week into the -20s, so this course is gettable for a lot of these 64 guys.
Playing this format I believe there is a strong weight we can put in our model towards the tournament form, mainly because having the stamina to go deep into this tournament, can really take it’s toll. Winning this event means you are playing 7 quality rounds of golf across 5 days, trust me that will be as tiring as it sounds for some of these guys not used to that before.
Good Tee to Green data as usual don’t expect me to get tired of saying that in these previews and some good form this year as a whole is obviously always a good factor at this stage in the season. I want my picks this week to have a good all round game to summarise, I don’t believe there is a focus on the strokes gained date wise that we can weigh heavy on in this format, it will only bring up red herrings. We can weight and offset that then with some more all rounded data in a stat like, Birdie or Better %, and Bogey Avoidance, something you will hear of in a lot of previews leading up to this week.
How I’ve made up the model this week;
SG Tee to Green
Birdie or Better %
Greens in Regulation
Par 3 Performance
Driving Accuracy over 280+
Top 25 players based on that model;
1 Jon Rahm 11/1
2 Scottie Scheffler 8/1
3 Max Homa 22/1
4 Patrick Cantlay 20/1
5 Tyrrell Hatton 22/1
6 Jason Day 30/1
7 Minwoo Lee 75/1
8 Tony Finau 22/1
9 Seamus Power 80/1
10 Tom Hoge 70/1
11 Viktor Hovland 22/1
12 Collin Morikawa 22/1
13 Keith Mitchell 60/1
14 SiWoo Kim 70/1
15 Chris Kirk 75/1
16 Rickie Fowler 55/1
17 Rory McIlroy 12/1
18 Tom Kim 45/1
19 Maverick McNealy 125/1
20 Sungjae Im 30/1
21 Adam Hadwin 80/1
22 Brian Harman 80/1
23 Will Zalatoris 33/1
24 Shane Lowry 45/1
25 Cameron Young 30/1
The groups and my thoughts on the bracket’s…
Firstly it’s worth considering this week before you make your plays with certain bookmakers you may be able to get some good each ways odds with more places depending on who you use and where you shop around. Remember 8 places is very different to 4 places in this format.
So I’m going to do this bit differently than normal and talk freely about all the groups starting on the top left from where #1 Scheffler is and working my way down and then across. This should hopefully help you all work out who has easier groups and where my thoughts are moving into my picks and my card for the week.
This first side of the draw I feel is a lot easier than the other side. Scottie in his group has a fairly easy one, I see him getting through, I don’t think there will be no fight from Tom Kim, of course, who we saw punching in many of his putts in the President’s cup only 6 months ago, but I don’t believe he is playing well enough to beat Scottie out of this group.
Below that I also see some favourites getting through group 16, I don’t see much past Sungjae Im or Tommy Fleetwood. Sungjae hasn’t the best form here when he’s played, but he has plenty of Matchplay experience, much like Fleetwood and I expect either of them to go through, potentially who wins their match against each other will be playing Scottie in the next round. Good luck.
Into groups 8 & 9 and this is where I think you can find some good prices. Jason Day for me, has what it takes to breeze through a group like this. The most experienced Matchplay player and has a great record at this event, so I see him as a more of a 2nd seed beating a much poorer putter in Collin Morikawa. Below that, I really like the outside play of Chris Kirk. Kirk is playing well, again has a good record in Matchplay and you will really see good odds on what looks like a really tough group on paper.
Group 5 & 12, and I think this maybe is the easiest bracket to predict, I see nobody beating the formidable Jordan Speith, his Matchplay stats are outstanding whether that’s with his buddy Justin or not, I see no problems for him in his group. The same feelings I have with Max Homa, both these two are gritty types, classy putters and just have what it takes to get through and set up a mouth-watering match up between them in the next round.
On the bottom of this side of the draw I want to put a particular focus on Seamus Power. Power last year was the outsider in his group and he made it through, and I fancy him to get through again here. Burns and Hadwin are not showing much form at all, and even in events where they have been expected to play well, they’ve barely reached 2nd gear. Power’s main problem in Group 13 may come from stalwart Aussie Adam Scott. As we all know Adam Scott has what it takes to beat anyone in Matchplay format with plenty of experience from many Presidents Cup’s.
Seamus though I’m expecting to meet Patty Ice in the next round, and Patrick Cantlay for me has the easiest group of the whole draw. Brian Harman, won’t be long and straight enough and I believe will get beat up on the par 5’s, Nick Taylor has been playing well but doesn’t have Cantlay’s experience and KH Lee could turn up with anything and that’s too volatile for someone so relaxed and in tune with their game like Cantlay is, easy quarter-final play for me.
Moving swiftly onto the other side of the draw and of course we start with the formidable Jon Rahm, and he really has been, I think, given one of the toughest draws you could give him. Billy Horschel has won this event before so there is the experience there and Rickie Fowler is the type of player that could turn up here and blow them all away. But for me the dark horse here is Killa Cashmere Keith Mitchell. Mitchell comes into this on seriously good form, 1st for Total driving in the world and his putting is so consistent, if he can squeeze out of this group he has a great chance of making the final.
A great final chance you say, why you ask? well because below him; starting with group 15, it’s really open. I don’t believe Cam young is putting well enough to get out of his group and a young rookie like Davis Thompson really could be a great outside steal, at least for his group. If not him, then Corey Conners, who is consistent himself and has experience here.
Group 10, I feel could be a bit of a walkover for Tony Finau who can put his stamp on this group and drop his price for the masters rapidly, if you’re thinking of an early bet on him there. And in Group 7, I prefer the outsiders, I believe the putting game of Harris English and Putnam can prevail over a poor form Zalatoris and inexperienced Ryan Fox.
In the second half of this right side of the draw, we have a similar open field with group 11. Matt Fitzpatrick seems to be putting cold and complaining about his neck still, and that’s a group we could see someone like Min Woo Lee get out of, who did well here last year. I believe Min Woo will go on to meet Tom Hoge, who will surely get the better of a short priced Xander Schauffele. Tom Hoge playing much better golf than Xander right now and I believe he could upset the odds in his group.
And lastly the bracket with Rory in, I really struggle to know which Rory turns up in this tourney this week, and he has a fairly tough group. An in form Keegan Bradley and Denny McCarthy may upset the odds and get the better of Rory, the latter if you didn’t know, one of the best putters in the world. However surely whoever comes out of Group 3 singing and dancing will not be strong enough for Tyrell Hatton who I believe will walk all over a poor Group 14 which doesn’t have the depth apart from an in form, but inexperienced Ben Griffin.
Well that’s all of the groups and their brackets covered, I hope that has summarised all my thoughts well, and where I believe you can make real value, especially in your parlays/props and DFS lineups. Now onto my final outright selections. Look out for my card across both tournaments this week.
If you want to play my new weekly fantasy competition, look out for my updates on my twitter @tomford9931 and my site www.drawshankgolf.com.
Jordan Speith - 28/1 2pts win
I’m leading this week with Jordan, and you may be surprised because he’s not in the model and doesn’t have lots of stats to go on at this event. However there is a glint in his eye that I’ve seen in the last few weeks and with all the Ryder cup experience that just makes him very hard to beat. Best strokes gained data than the rest of his group and, in Ryder Cup year, he will want to prove to Zach Johnson he is his go to man later in the year. I think his approach play and touch around the greens is just enough to keep getting up and down from anywhere and beating the likes of Homa and Cantlay on that side of the draw.
Tyrell Hatton - 25/1 2pt win
Another dead cert surely to get out his group, Has a 9-2-2 record here and has been playing some really amazing golf in the past few weeks. Gaining nearly 1.5 strokes approach which is nearly as good as Morikawa and Hovland, tie that in with his matchplay experience and I see Tyrell going all the way this week.
Tony Finau - 25/1 2pts Win
Big tone, should have one of the easiest draws this week, barring a injury or something, nobody will get in the way of him winning his group and he’s likely to have a fairly easy pass in the round after that also, that’s something you just can’t ignore. Comes in at 8th in the model, gaining 1.42 strokes Tee to Green this year and we’ve seen last year what he can do on these shorter scoreable golf courses, real danger to everyone.
Keith Mitchell – 60/1 1pt E/W
This is a pick I didn’t think I would be playing in the Dell Matchplay, Killa Cashmere Keith will be on my card again within the next few weeks and why I’ve picked him this week is purely on the great chance he has if he gets through his group. 2nd to Rahm on Total Strokes Gained data, never puts himself in trouble and I think he is a real danger to anyone coming up against him.
Harris English– 100/1 1pt E/W
Sticking with the theme on this side of the draw, where I think it could be the easiest, English has good Matchplay experience and has the strongest Putting statistics in his group. You could see an outside toss up between him and Putnam in this weak group and he has a chance to sneak through to maybe even a semi final before he comes unstuck and we all know in matchplay, anything can happen.