The PGA Tour is leaving Florida behind for greener pastures out in Austin, Texas for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The course is Austin Country Club which is a Par 71 that plays around 7,100 yards. The greens are Tifeagle Bermuda but are overseed with Poa and Bent grass. As the golfers make their way around this track they’ll contend with 112 bunkers and fast greens.
This is the fourth time the course has been played in this format with Bubba Watson ($8,900), Dustin Johnson ($11,400), and Jason Day ($9,800) all having hoisted the trophy once before. There’s no course preview this week because of the different format and lack of stats. We’re going to look at things a bit differently given the different format.
Something like 25 to 30 percent of lineups were dead before they started at this event last year. Why? Because people didn’t pay attention to the layout of the actual bracket once group play was over. Yes, it’s difficult to hit all four of the final four … but if you’re picking multiple golfers from the same group or that literally can’t end up getting past the round of 16, you’re doing yourself a disservice. I know you’ve probably heard this from all of your favorite podcasts, but it bears repeating. Everyone in the industry discussed it last year and a significant amount of lineups were dead before the first drive landed on the fairway.
Most Interesting Bracket
Group 14 is one of the most wide open groups. Yes, I know, people will think I’d just blindly go with Tony Finau ($9,000). But being in a group with Ian Poulter ($7,700), Kevin Kisner ($7,000), and, to a lesser extent, Keith Mitchell ($7,000) makes this a tough group to handicap. Finau does have a slight lead from the model this week. If we trust how DK salaries are valuing these guys, you have to like Finau’s outlook since he’s facing the sixth-lowest salary of opponents in the group stage. If you know anything about Finau, you know he was made for this type of format. It’ll be a tough go, but my money’s still on Tony.
Easiest Paths to Advance
As far as draws go, there are a few that seem like easier paths than others. Brooks Koepka ($10,300), for example, has the easiest road according to DK salary. His average competitor’s salary is $6,600. Alexander Noren ($7,000) appears to be the only real competition. Noren is 17-7 in his match-play career which is good for the second-best percentage of golfers with at least 20 matches in their sample. Even if Noren puts up a fight against Koepka, the rest of the group feels like easy W’s for Brooks.
Rory McIlroy ($11,700) is at the top of my model this week and has the fourth-lowest average competitor’s salary at $6,900. Luke List ($6,800) has been known to get hot and string birdies together, but I’m not sure he or Matthew Fitzpatrick ($7,700) can best Rory head to head. No offense to Justin Harding ($6,200), but I don’t see him putting up much of a fight in this group.
Charles Howell ($7,400) is one of my favorites to advance this week. The model loves him for obvious reasons. He’s a proven ball-striker having gained GIR on the field in nine of his last 12 rounds. He got a 97 rating from the model this week which gives him a slight edge in this group versus last week’s winner Paul Casey ($9,100).
The cash lock section continued its streak of made cuts. It’s now been six straight events with both golfers making the cut. That brings the totals to 22/24 made cuts, 16/24 Top 30s, and 10/24 Top 10s. I’m going to roll with Rory McIlroy ($11,700) and Gary Woodland ($7,800). Rory seems obvious as he’s No. 1 in my model again this week. He has a solid resume in match play events through his career, going 29-16-3 in his 48 matches on record. Oh, and he’s played reasonably well with six straight finishes in the top six, including a win at The PLAYERS Championship a couple weeks back. Woodland has a limited sample of 13 matches but is 8-4-1 in the chances that he’s gotten in this format. He’ll need to get past Justin Rose ($10,000), Emiliano Grillo ($6,900), and Eddie Pepperell ($6,900) to advance.
|Player Name||Salary||Own%||Percentile||Avg Opponent Salary||Group||Quad|
|Rafael Cabrera Bello||7500||17.50||0.14||7867||9||TL|
|Charles Howell III||7400||17.50||0.97||7800||10||TR|
|Si Woo Kim||6500||2.00||0.37||8600||8||TL|