The opening weekend of March Madness was filled with major upsets through the brackets. Top seeds Kansas and Purdue are eliminated ahead of the Sweet Sixteen, along with No. 2 Arizona and Marquette, and No. 3 Baylor. Now it’s time to complete the bracket for the World Golf Championships Dell Technologies Match Play event.
For the seventh straight and final time, Austin Country Club in Texas will host the 64-player WGC event. Tall Texan Scottie Scheffler is the favorite and defending Match Play champion, and he also finished runner-up in 2021. Scheffler reclaimed World No. 1 with his victory at TPC Sawgrass and the recent PLAYERS Championship.
There are 16 countries represented from the 64 players, and the WGC bracket was released Monday. The field is comprised of 48 PGA TOUR winners with a collective 207 wins to their credit. Thirteen players will make their tournament debut including PGA TOUR winners Cam Davis, Tom Kim, J.J. Spaun and Nick Taylor.
Leading favorites and contenders golf odds from FanDuel Sportsbook refresh periodically and are subject to change, including on props and live betting.
Justin Thomas would have been a top seed, but he’s elected not to play, along with Justin Rose.
Last year, eight top seeds advanced from their group – tied with year 2016 for the most since going to the group format in 2015. In four other year, five top seeds advanced, and in 2021 just one. So upsets are more commonplace with the top 16 seeds hardly a sure thing to get through the group stage.
Starting in 2015, the tournament moved from a knockout format to a group-play format to ensure more stars were around as the event progressed. The first phase Wednesday through Friday features a round robin format with the field divided into 16 four-player groups.
The top 16 players in the field, based on their world ranking, are the anchor for each group. Then the rest of the field is broken into B (17-32), C (33-48) and D (49-64) players, with a player from each group randomly drawn into each of the 16 groups.
Each 18-hole match is worth 1 point. The winner gets 1 point. The loser gets 0 points. An 18-hole tie means both players get a half-point. A sudden death playoff happens if there is a tie for the group lead with the winner advancing to the group stage.
The 16 group winners advance to the knock out phase Round of 16 on Saturday with the quarterfinals Saturday afternoon. The semifinals are played on Sunday morning, and the final and third place playoff are played on Sunday afternoon.
The Match Play format does increase golf’s inherent unpredictability, but the new round robin format and addition of group stages that started here in 2015 has produced more top-tier players advancing and winning.
Course Information and Viewing Schedule
Austin Country Club sits on Lake Austin, and was designed by Pete Dye in 1984. It’s the home of legendary instructor Harvey Penick. The course went through a fairways and greens renovation in 2015 and more than 100 bunkers were redone in 2019. The greens are smaller than tour average, and there are five water hazards.
The course features diverse terrain and elevation changes, and the opening nine holes play on higher ground and weave through canyons and woodlands. The back nine is on the lowlands alongside Lake Austin with a river border on one side of the course. There are several different natural features to every one of the holes, and players will also have to navigate the changing winds with early forecasts showing up to 10-20 MPH wind speeds on Wednesday and Thursday with a 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms. The rain increases to 80% on Friday morning, and 80’s temperatures are forecast each day with the best weather forecast for clear and sunny on Saturday.
All of the par 5s will be reachable, and the 12th hole will be the favorite. Water from the river runs the final 150 yards on the left of the hole, and goes right up along the left of the green and beyond the putting surface. There is plenty of drama as players decide to go for the green.
There are five par 4s less than 400 yards, and all the par 3s – including the shortest at 150 yards on No. 17 – have greens tucked away in front of water, bunkers and ravines. The par 4s at Nos. 2 and 8 are the toughest holes with a 22% and 27% bogey rate. The risk/reward options, hazards and strategy all adds to great match play strategy and scenarios.
Round-by-round matchups and odds were just posted, and here are some that will headline the opening round action, courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook. There are also prop bets available on the matchups.
Tyrrell Hatton tops this WGC Field in Strokes Gained: Putting and Total, and he’s also top-6 in SG Approach and Short Game over his last 50 rounds.
Popular picks and players to watch based on history, format and stats suggest these golfers will be most popular bets to win at the leading online sportsbooks.
Like Match Madness, the most exciting action and wagering will be in the opening rounds of the WGC-Match Play. Then the focus turns to the first major of the season and The Masters April 6-9 at Augusta National. Scottie Scheffler also shoots to defend with top challengers Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy firing for their first green jacket as the three players with odds to win of 10/1 or less.
You can bet on it.
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