NCAA-style group draw to kick off Dell Match Play's arrival in Austin
By Kevin Lyttle
AUSTIN, Texas – Good bye, SXSW.
The biggest golf tournament Central Texas has ever seen rolls into town this week with the sold-out World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club.
A March Madness-style pairings show Monday night at the Paramount Theater sets the stage for the best 64 players in the world going one-on-one starting Wednesday and concluding Sunday.
Jordan Spieth, the former Texas Longhorn ranked No. 1 in the world, will obviously be the people's choice. However, Jason Day, the 28-year-old Australian, could be the man to beat. The third-ranked player behind Spieth and Rory McIlroy holds history and a hot hand on his side.
Day owns the top record of anyone in match play, winning more than 75 percent of the time. He not only won the 2014 WGC Match Play event and the last major, the PGA Championship, but Day is fresh off a victory Sunday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
Sixth-ranked Adam Scott, another Australian, has a powerful case of his own to be the favorite.The 2013 Masters champion, is dominating the tour this season. He racked up back-to-back victories in Florida recently, winning the Honda Classic and the WGC-Cadillac at Donald Trump's Doral Blue Monster course. Scott already has grabbed $4.24 million and is the runaway FedEx Cup points leader with 1,608.
Bubba Watson, ranked fourth, also has two wins in the 2015-16 season, four top-10 finishes in seven events, and is second with $3.58 million earned.
Fifth-ranked Rickie Fowler finished eighth and sixth, respectively, his last two times out and has finished in the top 10 in five of eight events.
McIlroy, a former No. 1, is the defending WGC Match Play champ and tied for third in the WGC-Cadillac earlier this month.
All those big names will be among the top seeds, or Pool A, for Monday night's draw. The 64 players will be divided into 16 groups of four. The fun part will be the random draw to determine which player from Pool B (seeds 17-32), C (33-48) and D (49-64) will be included in their group.
Each group will have a round robin with three matches apiece, with the winner advancing to the round of 16 Saturday.
Spieth, in a worst-case scenario, could draw No. 19 Charl Schwartzel, a former Masters champ who won in Florida last week; No. 38 Victor Dubuisson, a 25-year-old Frenchman who lost to Day in the 2014 WGC title match; and No. 60 Graeme McDowell, another accomplished match-play performer.
Although stroke-play prowess does not necessarily translate into match-play success, it's worth noting that advanced metrics show the PGA Tour's top five this season as, in order: Scott, Watson, Day, Schwartzel and Phil Mickelson. McIlroy is just behind.
Matt Kuchar carries an excellent history in match play, winning nearly 70 percent of the time. The Georgia Tech alum with 12 PGA Tour triumphs captured the WGC Match Play in 2013.
Of course, not everyone has smooth sailing in this format. Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bill Haas and Jamie Donaldson are among those who've struggled.
This article was written by Kevin Lyttle from Austin American-Statesman and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.