The PGA Tour gets in on the fun of March Madness with their own bracket-style event this week, the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play Championship, held at the Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas. 64 of the top 66 players in the world will battle it out this week for a piece of the $10.25 million purse that is up for grabs. While this event obviously tries to feed off of the spectacle that is the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, there are some unique features to this event that we don’t see on the hardwood.
To begin, all 64 players in the field will be placed in a 4-person pod where they will play a round robin format against the other three members of their pod Wednesday through Friday. The player with the best record in the pod will advance to the Sweet 16 on Saturday, where they will take on the winner of another pod. At this point the event becomes single elimination, as players will play both the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 matchups Saturday as we arrive at the Final 4 on Sunday. Both the semifinal and final matches will be played on Sunday.
The Top 16 players in the world will be considered the “#1 seeds” in each of the 16 4-man pods. The remaining members of the pod have been selected at random using the Official World Golf Rankings to guide which players will go where. Each pod will get a player from each of 4 pools of golfers – Pool A (#1-16 in the OWGR), Pool B (#17-32), Pool C (#33-48) and Pool D (#49-64).
Points are awarded for each match within the pod. Players earn 1 point for winning their match, ½ a point for halving their match, and 0 points for losing their match. The member of the pod with the most points at the conclusion of round robin play Friday advances to the Sweet 16 Saturday. In the event of a tie, players will play a sudden death playoff to determine the pod winner.
Because of the uniqueness of this event, DraftKings has adopted a new scoring system to be used solely for this match play event. Scoring this week will be as follows:
A clear emphasis is place on not only winning your match this week, but finishing off your opponent quickly as the points for “Holes Not Played” will help bolster an already solid match that is finished quickly. This format also may benefit a player that has a more risk-taking type of style on the course as making a big number on a hole doesn’t hurt you nearly as bad in this event as it does on a regular tour event.
The match play format here limits the amount of statistical information we are able to gather about the Austin Country Club heading into this week’s event, but what we do know is that the course is a 7,108 yard, par 71 Pete Dye design, which always requires precision positioning off the tee and approach to the green. This will be the 4th year that the Austin CC has hosted this event, and there has been no shortage of star power that has won this event in the past. Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day are your previous three winners at this course – so expect the big guns to be in contention again this week in this format.
While I won’t be looking a ton at stats coming in to this event I will be placing some emphasis on a players match play history when trying to construct lineups this week. Some players are just better than others in these 1-on-1 formats, so weighing them a bit heavier is a must in my opinion. I’ll also be looking for the players that are coming in playing well this week, just as I would any week. Bringing confidence into an event like this could mean everything as you are playing against only one opponent each day rather than the standard field of 100+ players.
Last Year’s Results
After defeating Justin Thomas, 3 and 2, to advance to the finals, Bubba Watson cruised to a 7-and-6 victory over Kevin Kisner to claim his second World Golf Championships title (2014 WGC-HSBC Champions). Watson’s 7-and-6 victory was the largest in the title match since the event moved to an 18-hole championship match in 2011. Through seven matches, Watson defeated six higher ranked seeds on his way to the 11th PGA TOUR victory of his career.
Championship Match – Bubba Watson (35) def. Kevin Kisner (32), 7 and 6
Consolation Match – Alex Noren (13) def. Justin Thomas (2), 5 and 3
By Texas standards the winds will stay relatively calm all week with a chance of rain on Saturday and Sunday for the final 8 players to deal with on their way to the conclusion of the event.
Video of the Week
Usually I like to include one video in this section of the article, but I just couldn’t decide between these two this week – so you are getting both of them! It’s impossible to forget the time that Stephen Ames thought it was a good idea to rattle the cage of the Tiger heading into their match at this event in 2006. Predictably, it didn’t go well for Mr. Ames.
The second video this week is a beauty of a fight between Keegan Bradley and Miguel Angel Jimenez at the 2015 event. Apparently no one tells Keegan’s caddy to shut up!
As always, thank you very much for giving my article a glance this week as you prepare for the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play Championship. If you have any questions you would like to ask me about your lineup or about my article in general, join us on DPA Premium where you can get exclusive access to myself as well as the rest of our other experts for NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL. I’ll be available to answer questions about your lineups this week from 9PM to 10PM on Tuesday, March 26th!
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Hopefully we will see you back here soon for my DFS Breakdown on this year’s Dell Technologies Match Play Championship. Until then, be gracious with your gimmies and selective with your concessions! All the best!