While the PGA Tour will be in the Dominican Republic this week (featuring Dallas QB turned CBS Announcer Tony Romo), the top golfers in the world will head to Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas to compete in the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play.
The selection process, per the PGA Tour is as follows: “Players in the 64-man field were seeded according to their position on the Official World Ranking as of Monday. Players were then placed into four pools of 16 players (Pool A: 1-16; Pool B: 17-32; Pool C: 33-48; Pool D: 49-64). The top 16 ranked players headed the 16 groups, with Monday’s random draw determining the other three spots.” Several big names won’t be playing this week, which is why Kevin Na (65th in the OWGR), Charles Howell III (66th), Keegan Bradley (68th), Luke List (69th) and Julian Suri (70th) will make starts despite being outside the top 64. Justin Rose (5th), Rickie Fowler (7th), Brooks Koepka (8th), Henrik Stenson (15th), Adam Scott (56th) and Joost Luiten (67th) are the players who qualified but won’t start. Koepka and Luiten are both battling wrist injuries, while the others have backed out for personal reasons. Exactly half the field (32) is made up of Americans, while the other top areas represented are Europe with 15 (6 from England), Asia with 8 (4 from Japan) as well as 4 from South Africa and 3 from Australia. There are also 5 past champions in the field this week- Dustin Johnson (2017), Jason Day (2014 & 2016), Rory McIlroy (2015), Matt Kuchar (2013) and Ian Poulter (2010).
This is a fun week to predict the leaderboard because its a match play- so in honor of my weak March Madness Bracket (but 98th percentile ranked Women’s Bracket), rather than doing power rankings I’ll opt to predict the winner of each pool play and then finish out the remaining 16-man bracket. Below are the pool play groups with my predicted winner bolded.
Pool & Bracket Predictions:
GROUP 1: Dustin Johnson (1), Kevin Kisner (32), Adam Hadwin (38), Bernd Wiesberger (52)
GROUP 2: Justin Thomas (2), Francesco Molinari (21), Patton Kizzire (48), Luke List (60)
GROUP 3: Jon Rahm (3), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28), Chez Reavie (43), Keegan Bradley (63)
GROUP 4: Jordan Spieth (4), Patrick Reed (19), Haotong Li (34), Charl Schwartzel (49)
GROUP 5: Hideki Matsuyama (4), Patrick Cantlay (30), Cameron Smith (46), Yusaku Miyazato (53)
GROUP 6: Rory McIlroy (6), Brian Harman (18), Jhonattan Vegas (44), Peter Uihlein (57) -> But I love UT grad Vegas pulling off and upset this week too
GROUP 7: Sergio Garcia (7), Xander Schauffele (20), Dylan Frittelli (41), Shubhankar Sharma (62)
GROUP 8: Jason Day (8), Louis Oosthuizen (25), Jason Dufner (42), James Hahn (56)
GROUP 9: Tommy Fleetwood (9), Daniel Berger (26), Kevin Chappell (33), Ian Poulter (58) -> But Ian Poulter is 36-15-5 in match play so anything is possible when he’s in the mix
GROUP 10: Paul Casey (10), Matthew Fitzpatrick (31), Kyle Stanley (45), Russell Henley (51)
GROUP 11: Marc Leishman (11), Branden Grace (23), Bubba Watson (35), Julian Suri (64)
GROUP 12: Tyrrell Hatton (12), Charley Hoffman (22), Brendan Steele (36), Alexander Levy (55)
GROUP 13: Alex Noren (13), Tony Finau (29), Thomas Pieters (39), Kevin Na (61)
GROUP 14: Phil Mickelson (14), Rafa Cabrera Bello (17), Satoshi Kodaira (40), Charles Howell III (59)
GROUP 15: Pat Perez (15), Gary Woodland (24), Webb Simpson (37), Si Woo Kim (50)
GROUP 16: Matt Kuchar (16), Ross Fisher (27), Yuta Ikeda (47), Zach Johnson (54)
From there my Final 4 is Dustin Johnson (hopefully we don’t have a UVA-UMBC situation for the #1 overall seed), Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. From there I have JT beating DJ in the championship match. Obviously no real upsets there besides Reed making it out of his pool against Spieth- but I can’t trust Jordan’s putting right now and in match play it comes down to putts. The theme with my Final 4 golfers? They get pumped up for Ryder/President’s Cups and thats what you look for in a match play. I think this format is a refreshing look for the WGC and it coincides perfectly with PGA fever heating up leading to the Masters and of course, March Madness.
R. McIlroy -> $10,000
T. Fleetwood -> $9,700
G. Woodland -> $8,100
P. Reed -> $7,700
B. Grace -> $7,300
K. Aphibarnrat -> $7,00
Remaining Salary -> $200