There was something quite familiar about the most recent renewal of the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play, in 2019, because the sight of Kevin Kisner lifting the trophy called to mind the early years of the event when Jeff Maggert, Steve Stricker and Kevin Sutherland grabbed the glory. “What sort of World Golf Championship sees journeymen triumph?!?!” the sponsors and TV execs cried into their beer. The answer is: a match play one. It’s head-to-head, mano-a-mano, boom-or-bust and it can easily throw a spanner in the works. It also adds an extra level of difficulty for gamers because the elite can, and do, perform well in this event. Indeed, Tiger Woods won it three times, and between 2003 and 2018 every winner was a Ryder or Presidents Cup performer. But it’s also essential that you make big gains with shrewd purchases of golfers who excel in this unique form of the game.
Match play needs no explanation, but the tournament does because, wary of the lottery-like nature of straight knockout, it introduced a first round group stage. That guarantees every player three matches on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (yes, they start a day early) before the bracket action begins on Saturday. Only one player from each group graduates from that first stage so you could argue that it represents the cut. My strategy is influenced by the draw this week, with my six picks all playing in different first round groups and I’ll bear in mind that the top four will play a lot of golf at the weekend. Only five of the world’s top 64 don’t tee it up this week. Leaderboard, groups and draw here.
Austin Country Club
As we’ll discover, the four winners at Austin Country Club had distinctly different methods of attack (or defense, because Phil Mickelson argued that was the manner of golf it favored). A Pete Dye-designed track, elevation changes feature strongly and the exposed nature of the property makes it vulnerable to the Texas wind.
Don’t discount that length from the tee box matters because three of the four winners had plenty of firepower and five of the par-4s are below 400-yards in length which is unusual at this level. However, the success of Kisner (and Matt Kuchar who he defeated in the ‘19 final) hints that competence on Bermuda greens and in blustery wind are also key: both of them excel at the likes of Harbour Town, El Camaleon and Waialae.
A lot of shots feature carries over chasms, valleys or water hazards to fairways or greens perched high or low. It’s an aspect of the game that may well frustrate some (you suspect Mickelson was among that number), but others will view it as an opportunity to attack.
It’s not great news that the forecast for Austin indicates a possibility of thunderstorms Wednesday and Thursday. Stoppages might be avoided, but expect some rain at the very least. Temperatures will be high 70s till the weekend and then low 80s as the sun breaks through the cloud. Most pertinent? The forecast expects the wind to blow in four different directions through the five days. It will be blustery rather than strong, but those subtle changes might catch some out.
Past Champions at The WGC Dell Technologies Match Play
There is probably no-one in golf more disappointed that last year’s edition of this championship did not happen than Kevin Kisner. The 37-year-old from South Carolina often bemoans that most PGA Tour venues rule him out of the reckoning because of his lack of distance from the tee box and that has not been an issue in Austin. He went 3-3 through his first two appearances at the course, was a losing finalist in 2018 and went one better to claim the W in 2019.
The four men who preceded him as champions in Austin reflect that the course (and the format) give everyone a fair crack of the whip: Jason Day and his superb short game prevailed in 2016, Dustin Johnson’s class told in 2017 and Bubba Watson’s creativity in 2018.
Here’s an entirely FREE lineup for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|Player #1||B. DeChambeau||$10,900|
|Player #2||J. Rahm||$10,700|
|Player #3||C. Conners||$7,800|
|Player #4||B. Watson||$7,400|
|Player #5||V. Perez||$6,600|
|Player #6||E. Van Rooyen||$6,400|
Remaining cash $200
Bryson DeChambeau ($10,900) First thing to note about DeChambeau this week: he’s got a terrible record in match play. He was bested by Alex Noren in the 2018 Ryder Cup, held to a half by Adam Hadwin in the 2019 Presidents Cup, and went 1-2 on debut in this event, losing to Marc Leishman and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, only beating Russell Knox. Second thing to consider: he’s a different animal now. Very different. The intimidation factor could be quite the thing for his Group 5 opponents Tommy Fleetwood, Si Woo Kim and Antoine Rozner.
Jon Rahm ($10,700) An unapologetic play of two big-hitters both in terms of salary, ownership and literally what DeChambeau and Rahm do to golf balls. They pound them. Rahm did something similar to his opponents on a run to the final on debut in 2017 and he’ll be frustrated that a) he’s not repeated it since, and b) that he’s been only there or thereabouts with results this year. The change in format could set him free. Faces his friend Ryan Palmer (1-4 in all match play), Shane Lowry (6-13-3) and Sebastian Munoz in Group 3. Not a lot to fear.
Corey Conners ($7,800) The Canadian has a bit of an opportunity in Group 15 up against Matthew Fitzpatrick (8-11-1) and the horribly out-of-form debutant Matthew Wolff. The big threat is Jordan Spieth who could be anything, but has nothing better than a 12-12 match play record. Conners has eight top 25 finishes in his last ten starts, five of them top 10s.
Bubba Watson ($7,800) Value to be had in the past champion who has a 9-5-3 record at Austin Country Club and an underestimated 21-14-4 record in all match play. Of course we’ve got to factor in poor form, but match play is a format to kickstart better golf and, more importantly, Watson is a fellow who repeats on his favored tracks as multiple wins at Riviera, River Highlands and Augusta National testify. Competes in Group 7 against tournament rookies Joaquin Niemann and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, plus Patrick Reed whose Austin CC record is a vulnerable 7-5-2.
Victor Perez ($6,600) The Frenchman has proved that he can go low, but he has also shown that he has the capacity to throw in a big number. In recent outings he’s confirmed both, playing sufficiently well at TPC Sawgrass to land T–9 on debut and before that shooting a 78 at Bay Hill that included an 11 on a par–5. Match play could suit him because his firepower will hurt, his fine approach play intimidate, and his errors can be swiftly left behind. Group 16 (Sungjae Im, Marc Leishman, Russell Henley) shouldn’t scare him.
Erik Van Rooyen ($6,400) Need to dig deep and the South African hipster (he should feel right at home in Austin) suits in Group 14. Van Rooyen will debut, but the group top seed is Daniel Berger who owns a dreadful 2-8 match play record, and is completed by Harris English and Brendon Todd, both solid fellows, but they won’t cause the South African any tremors.
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- A couple of good alternative picks to help you build out GPP options based around not one but two CORE lineups.
Here’s Another Alternate Lineup For The WGC Dell Technologies Match Play
|Player #1||P. Cantlay||$9,800|
|Player #2||P. Casey||$8,900|
|Player #3||C. Smith||$8,500|
|Player #4||L. Oosthuizen||$8,100|
|Player #5||Si Woo Kim||$7,300|
|Player #6||H. English||$7,300|
$100 leftover salary
Patrick Cantlay ($9,800) Can rebound from the missed cut at THE PLAYERS and return to the form that saw him tick off six top 20s prior to that. He’s long enough to attack when needs be, but hardy enough to play safe if the situation suits. Has a solid 4-2-1 record from his little experience of match play and one of the defeats came at the hands of Tiger Woods. Takes on an out-of-form Hideki Matsuyama, Carlos Ortiz and Brian Harman in Group 10.
Paul Casey ($8,900) The Englishman has been gun in 2021, landing nothing but top 12 finishes in his half a dozen starts. Most recently he was an impressive T–5 at THE PLAYERS and now he can spin on in a format he has thrived in. Back in 2006 he won a European Tour version of the World Match Play at Wentworth, he’s also twice made the last eight in this championship – and, in addition, he was runner-up in both 2009 and 2010. His opponents in Group 9 are Webb Simpson (1-6-2 on the course), plus debutants Mackenzie Hughes and Talor Gooch.
Cameron Smith ($8,500) The Aussie only owns a 4-4-1 record in match play, but he’s in great form, landing T–4 at Riviera, T–11 at The Concession and T–17 at Sawgrass. He can hustle the out-of-sorts Rory McIlroy, harry Ian Poulter (MC-MC his last two starts) and has nothing to fear from event first-timer Lanto Griffin.
Louis Oosthuizen ($8,100) There was a time when the South African was not all that at match play. He failed to make the last 16 in his first four starts in the event, then it all turned round. So much so that he’s made the last eight in four of his last six starts and was runner-up in 2016. He’s also undefeated in four Presidents Cup matches. He’s in the Group of Death (2) with Justin Thomas, Kevin Kisner and Matt Kuchar, but he’s value to prevail.
Si Woo Kim ($7,300) Sometimes you have to speculate to accumulate and so it is with the South Korean. He’s been salaried on low reputation, the high quality field and an Austin CC record of 3-5-2. But he’s older, wiser and in far better form than his last visit. Moreover, he likes Dye designs. He won at Sawgrass in 2017, was T–9 there two weeks ago, and won The American Express when it used a Dye design three times in January. His Group 5 task is tough (DeChambeau, Fleetwood, Rozner) but we get him at a decent price.
Harris English ($7,300) A reminder: What do Kevin Kisner (first and second in Austin) and Matt Kuchar (runner-up to Kisner) have in common? They are demons playing courses that feature blustery wind, grainy greens and require a neat long game. Engliss has won at TPC Southwind and El Camaleon, and he won earlier this year at Plantation. It’s right up his street. Faces match play bunny Berger and event rookies Todd and Van Rooyen in Group 14.
Other Player Options For The WGC Dell Technologies Match Play
• Lee Westwood missed the cut last week at the Honda Classic and admitted his nearly-48-year-old legs had caught up with him. Can he really last another long week? His Austin record is 3-5-1.
• Matt Kuchar owns a brilliant record at Austin (10-3-4) but his form is rotten: not one top 30 and only two top 40s in his last 10 starts.
• Sergio Garcia is 9-5-1 at Austin CC and 38-29-4 in his entire match play career. In playing all three group games this week he would overhaul Tiger Woods as leader in all-time matches played in the event, setting a new target of 49.
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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