WGC-Match Play odds, preview, and course notes

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March 24th, 2021

The PGA Tour will switch up the scenery and format for this week's WGC-Match Play, after a month of excitement on the Florida swing.

Set to tee off Wednesday morning, the WGC-Match Play is in Austin, Texas and features an elite field of most of the top 64 in the World Golf Ranking.

Recent Arnold Palmer Invitational winner Bryson DeChambeau, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, and 2017 WGC-Match Play runner-up Jon Rahm enter as +1200 co-favorites.

Justin Thomas (+1400) also comes in hot, after his win at the Players Championship, while Collin Morikawa (+2200) will attempt to become the first golfer since Johnson in 2017 to win the first two WGC events of the calendar year. Morikawa landed first at February's WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession.

WGC-Match Play odds

Bryson DeChambeau
Dustin Johnson
Jon Rahm
Justin Thomas
Viktor Hovland
Collin Morikawa

WGC-Match Play course layout and relevant statistics

The par 71, 7,108-yard Austin Country Club will host the WGC-Match Play for the fifth year in the event's 22-year history.

Previous winners on this course include Kevin Kisner (2019), Bubba Watson (2018), Johnson (2017), and Jason Day (2016), and all are in this week's field.

The Pete Dye design will reward precise approach play and proficient putting on the course's undulating Bermuda greens.

With the tournament's match-play format, strokes gained off the tee will also be a factor, as players who can drive it past their opponent will get the advantage of playing their second shot based on what their opponent does first.

The field is divided into 16 groups of four players. Each member will play 18-hole matches against the three golfers in his group, and the player with the most points at the end of the round-robin format will advance to the next round.

One point is awarded for a match win and a half-point is granted for a tie.

The winners from each group will advance to the knockout stage of the tournament Saturday, which includes the round of 16 and quarterfinals. The championship and third-place matches take place Sunday.

You can find the full tournament bracket at PGATour.com.

Best bets for the WGC-Match Play

One player who could hang around until Sunday is No. 10 seed Patrick Cantlay (+2500).

Before the 29-year-old missed his first cut of the season at the Players in early March, Cantlay enjoyed a string of top 20 finishes, including a win at the Zozo Championship, a second-place finish at the American Express, and third at Pebble Beach.

Cantlay ranks 21st on the PGA Tour in strokes gained off the tee, 50th in both strokes gained approaching the green and strokes gained putting, and 11th in birdie or better percentage.

With match play, it will be particularly important to find players who can make birdies in bunches and force their opponent to match their scores to win an 18-hole match.

For group betting, look out for some lower seeds to advance to the weekend.

Since the introduction of pool play to the WGC-Match Play in 2015, the average seed of a player to make the round of 16 is 28.9.

No. 25 Cameron Smith, in Group 11, and No. 37 Corey Conners, in Group 15, are in position to spring an upset.

Smith is the second-highest seed in his group, led by No. 11 Rory McIlroy, and will also compete against No. 46 Lanto Griffin and No. 60 Ian Poulter.

In his group, Smith ranks highest (tied for ninth) on the PGA Tour in birdie or better percentage, and he just posted a 17th-place finish at TPC Sawgrass, another Pete Dye design.

As for Conners, the 29-year-old Canadian has been on a tear, with a seventh-place finish at TPC Sawgrass and third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this month.

How to watch the WGC-Match Play

The winner of the WGC-Match Play will receive $1.8 million of the $10.5 million purse and 550 FedEx Cup points.

You can catch all the action Wednesday through Friday, 2-8 p.m. ET, and Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. ET, on the Golf Channel. NBC will provide live coverage from 2-6 p.m. ET Saturday and 3-7 p.m. ET Sunday.