A different dynamic this week with that rarest of beasts: individual match play at the highest level of the game. We’re used to seeing it in the Ryder and Presidents Cup, but the drama of head-to-head action has always held limited appeal to television, sponsors and players. This point was hammered home when the event ventured to Australia in 2001. The world’s top stars, including all four semi-finalists from the previous edition, chose not to play and an event designed for the world’s top 64 players was won by Kevin Sutherland (ranked 102nd). Ouch. A few stars miss out this week, with Augusta on their minds. But the field is solid and fans still like match play, even if those other demographics don’t. Note: Remember the tournament starts Wednesday.
Last time out
Well played Sam Burns, who defended his Valspar Championship in fine fashion. Justin Thomas threatened to win, but yet again coldn’t get over the line. It’s an on-going problem for him and one that needs careful dealing with. To contend as often as he does suggests something is right; to have won just the once in two years indicates something else is not quite in order. Our consistent selection of Denny McCarthy and Christiaan Bezuidenhout continues to reap weekend golf – the pair are ultra reliable. And our deep dive pick Matt Kuchar landed T–16 at $7,000.
Here’s are some entirely FREE suggestions for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|A list||S. Scheffler||$11,000|
Scottie Scheffler ($11,000): Can he do a Kisner and follow a runner-up finish here with victory? Why not? He loved every minute of last year’s event, clearly thriving on memories of attending the event as a fan and having family and friends in the gallery. He’s a better player now and a two-time winner, too. He also went close to a home state win again in Houston earlier in the season. He hits plenty of greens, he’s putting well, he makes birdies. A nice draw, too, up against three limeys in Group 5.
Alex Noren ($7,800) The Swede has a very neat record in this event and will be happy to be back. In fact he’s won eight of his nine group games on this course and 11 of 14 in total (he was third in 2018 and made the last eight the year before). He’s also landed three top 12 finishes in his last five starts and nobody found more greens in regulation than him at the Honda Classic.
Bryson DeChambeau ($9,300) Surely too many inponderables to be wafting this much of a salary at DeChambeau? He hasn’t played since withdrawing from the Saudi International in January, hasn’t played well since months before that, and he gets ratty about questions on Saudi and his fitness. Thoese questions will continue.
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The Austin Country Club
This Texas track has proved to be the best-suited to match play of the many venues the tournament has ventured to. A Pete Dye design, it has plenty of risk and reward, with the front nine and last three holes threaded through trees, with a stretch in-between that descends towards, and along, the river. That part of the course is more exposed to that constant of Lone Star State golf: the wind.
“Thank goodness it’s match play,” Paul Casey said of the test. “I wouldn’t want to play stroke play. Packed an extra dozen balls for the week, because you could lose a couple out there very quickly.”
Kevin Kisner, a runner-up and winner here, said: “It’s a Pete Dye, which I do pretty well on over the course of time. But I’m not sure (it’s typical of courses I play well). There’s too much room off the tee. There’s not as much rough and guys can play from odd areas that I’ve noticed this week. But the Hilton Heads and the Colonials you don’t play from there. I think that’s the biggest difference is there’s more room here.”
Referencing the trees and wind got Justin Rose thinking of Spain. “It doesn’t suit any type of player or any type of golf,” he said. “It’s really tricky. It’s like a Valderrama almost in some ways. With the wind blowing, you’ve got to hit shots. By that I mean there’s no standard stock shot out here, you’re trying to hold it against the wind, knock it down. You’re always trying to do something, fit the ball into the green. So it demands a lot of your game. The short game around here is really tricky, which is great preparation going into the Masters. You get a lot of similar style chips.”
Tiger Woods found it something of a curiosity. “This golf course is tricky,” he said. “There’s so many moving parts on this golf course. Not only the wind comes all over the place but these mounds. The Tour staff, as I said earlier in the week, these pins are probably half a step harder than they would be in stroke play. So they’re putting them in spots where, yeah, we can potentially putt off greens, chip of greens, balls are careening into tough spots.”
It might be worth noting that the five winners here arrived in good form and hitting a lot of greens in regulation. The five also all had a Texas top three finish in their lockers so they knew how to deal with those breezes.
The weather forecast for Austin, Texas is generally good and set to improve all week. There is almost no chance of rain. It will be cloudy Wednesday and sunny the rest of the week. Temperaures will climb from high 50s on day one to low 70s on day five, humidity will follow suit from about 25% to 40%, the wind too: from about 9mph to 15mph.
Past Winners of The World Golf Championship – Dell Technologies Match Play
There was a time when the winners of this event were comical. Jeff Maggert, Darren Clarke, Steve Stricker and Kevin Sutherland really weren’t what the executives of TV or sponsors had in mind from 1999 to 2002. A Tiger Woods double in 2003-2004 righted the ship a little and he added a third title in 2008.
An interesting quirk is that, for all European love of match play in the Ryder Cup, they don’t really thrive in this event. After Clarke, Henrik Stenson (2007), Ian Poulter (2010), Luke Donald (2011) and Rory McIlroy (2015) have triumphed, but the Euro total of five wins has been overpowered by the American tally of 15 (until the move to Austin, David Toms, Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar also tasted victory).
Aussies have claimed four titles, kicked off by two wins for Geoff Ogilvy (2006 and 2009), completed by another pair, this time for Jason Day (2014 and 2016). That second win came on this course.
Since then, American have dominated at Austin. Dustin Johnson downed Jon Rahm in 2017, then Bubba Watson, Kevin Kisner and Billy Horschel won all-American finals.
Pete Dye doesn’t seem to be an enormous factor, but hitting lots of greens does – and ideally from Bermuda fairways and onto Bermuda greens. Recall those thoughts about winners here: they are in excellent form and own a top three finish in Texas already. We also can’t discount fondness for the format. It’s a fickle business match play and some golfers never get the hang of it. But also don’t be over-concerned with a poor track record unless it runs very deep. Beware the draw too – you don’t really want four picks in the same quarter.
Here’s A Line-up of Core Picks For The World Golf Championship – Dell Technologies Match Play
|A list||J. Spieth||$8,900|
|B list||J. Niemann||$8,600|
|B list||S. Garcia||$8,300|
|Deep dive||K. Mitchell||$7,100|
Jordan Spieth ($8,900) First up against Keegan Bradley and then has two veterans whose participation in this event has always been half-hearted, Adam Scott and Justin Rose. He might then meet good friend Justin Thomas in the last 16, who he has already beaten on this track. He’s stellar in Texas, he loves playing in his home state, and has played some good golf this year, nearly winning at Pebble Beach. Owns a 9-5-3 record at Austin.
Joaquin Niemann ($8,600) Two top 10s are his best in Texas, but his form overpowers those concerns. He opened the year with two top 10s, added victory in the Genesis Invitational and was T–22 last time out at TPC Sawgrass (Dye design). He’s been hitting plenty of greens and he enjoys playing with the wind. Clincher? In the last 12 weeks only one man has a better scoring average and his group is good: Kevin Na, Russel Henley and Maverick McNealy in No. 14.
Sergio Garcia ($8,300) A good draw in Group 2, up against Collin Morikawa (yet to shine in match play), Jason Kokrak (loves Texas, mixed fortunes this year) and Robert MacIntyre. He now lives in Austin and has won 12 of 20 matches there, reaching the last eight in both of the last two editions.
Talor Gooch ($7,700) A 10-time top 30 finisher in this season alone, if he finds his green-finding form pre-New Year he can be a really sneaky play this week (and doing so when the grass is Bermuda tends to be his thing). His group? DeChambeau (who knows?), Richard Bland (journeyman) and Lee Westwood (out of form). It’s a really good draw for a man who had a poor debut, but is now a winner.
Brian Harman ($7,600) Like a lefty-Kisner. Small, nuggetty, hard to beat, putts like a demon, infuriates the opposition. He cashes lots of Dye top 10s (River Highlands, Harbour Town, Sawgrass) and was T–5 last week hitting plenty of greens and draining lots of putts. His group of Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson and Abraham Ancer should hold no fear. His Austin record is 5-3-1.
Keith Mitchell ($7,100) On tournament debut in 2019 he beat Ian Poulter and gave Kisner a good fight. That’s intriguing because he has never ever played better than currently. He’s finished third in Texas (2018 Byron Nelson Championship), he’s got six top 15 finishes in his last eight starts, and he has the long game to attack the course. Great salary option. Faces Patrick Cantlay, Seamus Power and Sungjae Im in Group 4.
Other Player Options For The World Golf Championship – Dell Technologies Match Play
• Daniel Berger has a poor record at Austin: he’s played 12 matches and won just three (losing the other nine).
• Irishman Shane Lowry is in great nick (seven straight top 25s, six of them top 15) but is another with a poor course record: 2-7-3.
• Who owns the most wins on the course? Kevin Kisner (16-6-1) and Louis Oosthuizen (13-9-0).
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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