Who is going to win the 2017 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin (Texas) Country Club? Here are 10 strong candidates:
Paul Casey: Sneaky good in this event (20-12-1 overall) and got a good draw for group play. Could’ve included Patrick Reed on this list and yes, Reed loves match play, but he’s also not playing particularly well at the moment and this isn’t the Ryder Cup.
Thomas Pieters: Has a good chance to win his group, especially with Bubba Watson and Scott Piercy not at the top of their games right now. And we all remember what the Belgian did at last year’s Ryder Cup.
Jon Rahm: Might not have gotten much match-play experience in NCAA Championships, but the Spaniard should do well in this format. He’ll get countryman Sergio Garcia in his group, but don’t expect Rahm to be intimidated at any point this week; he won his first PGA Tour event earlier this year at Torrey Pines.
Louis Oosthuizen: Runner-up here last year to Jason Day and is 13-3 in this event the last three years. His current form isn’t as good as some other top players, plus he has Hideki Matsuyama in his group, but it’s match play and anything can happen.
Tyrrell Hatton: Will this guy ever cool off? (Nothing worse than T-13 in his last six starts.) A bit worried about his ability to shake off bad holes, but there’s no doubt he has the game to win.
Hideki Matsuyama: If he can get past last year’s runner-up Louis Oosthuizen in group play, Matsuyama will be battle-tested and ready to make a run. He’s won three times this season, though nothing better than T-25 in his last three starts, and is 6-3 all-time at the Match Play.
Jason Day: The defending champion enters this year’s event not playing his usual stellar golf. However, Day is 21-6 all-time at the Match Play and gets another visit to Austin CC, where he was a perfect 7-0 last year.
Jordan Spieth: Knows this course better than anyone in the field, though he did draw Ryan Moore in group play. Moore made it to the quarters here last year after winning his group with a 2-0-1 record. Spieth went 3-0 in group play last year but lost to Oosthuizen in the Round of 16. Outside top 25 just once in last 15 worldwide starts (two wins among nine top 10s, too), so he’s in great form.
Dustin Johnson: Best player in the world made it two the quarters last year after edging Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the group stage. He’s 7-9 all-time in this event, but recent form is on fire – has won his last two starts. This is the only WGC event he hasn’t won.
Rory McIlroy: May not be ranked No. 1, but McIlroy has proven himself in this event before and is rounding into form after missing six weeks with a rib injury. Was fourth here a year ago. He’s 22-8-1 overall in the Match Play.