The World Golf Championships-Match Play event used to be held in Arizona in February as an NCAA Tournament-style elimination format. One loss and you were out. The problem with that was many of the top seeds were eliminated on Day 1 or 2. So the Match Play has undergone an overhaul as it starts Wednesday with a new format as well as at a new venue: TPC Harding in San Francisco.
The old format produced 39 first-round upsets in the past three years – a 40 percent success rate for the underdogs. This year every player will play three matches as the 64 are grouped into 16 pods of four players apiece, with the winner of each pod advancing to play Saturday morning. The quarterfinals are Saturday afternoon and the semifinals and finals on Sunday.
Each of the Top 16 in Monday’s Official World Golf Ranking were be placed atop a group, with the other slots filled via blind draws from players ranked Nos. 17-32, Nos. 33-48 and the remainder. If two players tie in a pod, their head-to-head result will be the tiebreaker. A sudden-death playoff will break three-way ties.
Had it been a straight draw, top-seeded Rory McIlroy would have been joined by Graeme McDowell (32), Keegan Bradley (33) and Francesco Molinari (64). Instead, McIlroy got Billy Horschel (18), Brandt Snedeker (35) and Jason Dufner (53).
The last group to be filled out is a powerhouse – Jimmy Walker, who has won five Tour titles in 19 months; former U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson; long-hitting Gary Woodland and Ryder Cup hero and past WGC match play winner Ian Poulter.
Jason Day, already a 2015 winner at the Farmers Insurance Open, seeks to join Tiger Woods (2003-04) as the WGC-Cadillac Match Play’s only back-to-back champions. He now sports a 14-3 record in the event, having reached the semifinals one year earlier. Day beat Victor Dubuisson last year.
Two big names are missing this year: Phil Mickelson (personal reasons) and Tiger Woods (didn't qualify via the world ranking).
Group 1: Rory McIlroy, Billy Horschel, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Dufner
Group 2: Jordan Spieth, Lee Westwood, Matt Every, Mikko Ilonen
Group 3: Henrik Stenson, Bill Haas, Brendon Todd, John Senden
Group 4: Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen, Keegan Bradley, Miguel Angel Jimenez
Group 5: Jim Furyk, Martin Kaymer, Thongchai Jaidee, George Coetzee
Group 6: Justin Rose, Ryan Palmer, Anirban Lahiri, Marc Leishman
Group 7: Jason Day, Zach Johnson, Branden Grace, Charley Hoffman
Group 8: Dustin Johnson, Victor Dubuisson, Charl Schwartzel, Matt Jones
Group 9: Adam Scott, Chris Kirk, Paul Casey, Francesco Molinari
Group 10: Sergio Garcia, Jamie Donaldson, Bernd Wiesberger, Tommy Fleetwood
Group 11: Jimmy Walker, Ian Poulter, Webb Simpson, Gary Woodland
Group 12: J.B. Holmes, Brooks Koepka, Russell Henley, Marc Warren
Group 13: Rickie Fowler, Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry, Harris English
Group 14: Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Stephen Gallacher, Ben Martin
Group 15: Patrick Reed, Ryan Moore, Danny Willett, Andy Sullivan
Group 16: Hideki Matsuyama, Kevin Na, Joost Luiten, Alexander Levy
The Bovada Favorites
Spieth (9/1): : The hottest player on the planet, and a deserved favorite regardless of format or venue. Spieth barely broke stride in his first start back after his Masters victory, and while a potential match with fellow Ryder Cupper Patrick Reed looms in the second round, no one wants to face Spieth right now.
Rory McIlroy (9/1): Top seed but might not be top threat. Propensity to fly off the rails for short periods of time puts pressure on strong starts in every match. McIlroy will have to play well just to make it out of a stacked Group 1, then could face Matsuyama and Dustin Johnson just to make it to Sunday's semifinals.
Jason Day (14/1): Received a brutal draw. Day nearly captured the title in New Orleans and hasn't finished worse than T-31 all season, but Zach Johnson and Charley Hoffman will make him work in the group stage and from there he could face Sergio Garcia and either Spieth or Reed just to make it to Sunday.
Dustin Johnson (16/1): Out in the first round five of six times, so he'll appreciate the new format. Also 2-1 in team-competition singles. The road to the quarterfinals appears somewhat clear for Johnson, where he could meet McIlroy.
Henrik Stenson (16/1): The Swede received a somewhat favorable draw and appears likely to advance out of his group. He leads the Tour in both strokes gained tee-to-green and strokes gained putting, a combination that should prove somewhat useful this week. Stenson won this event in 2007.
Category : Betting Picks
Tag : golf odds
, jordan spieth
, pga tour
, rory mcilroy
, world golf championships match play
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