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WGC Dell Match Play Betting Tips: Four picks for the first World Golf Championships event of the year

WGC Dell Match Play: Tyrrell Hatton leads our picks for Austin, Texas
WGC Dell Match Play: Tyrrell Hatton leads our picks for Austin, Texas

With The Masters getting ever closer and following a dramatic, action packed and enthralling month in Florida, attention now turns to Texas for the next two weeks. Next week we’re at TPC San Antonio for the Texas Open but first it’s to Austin Country Club for our first World Golf Championship event of the year, the WGC - Dell Technologies Matchplay.

The Matchplay has been on the World Golf schedule since 1999 but has only been here, in Austin, Texas since 2016, in which time we’ve seen the following finals: 

2021 – Billy Horschel beat Scottie Scheffler 2&1

2019 – Kevin Kisner beat Matt Kuchar 3&2

2018 – Bubba Watson beat Kevin Kisner 7&6

2017 – Dustin Johnson beat Jon Rahm 1 up

2016 – Jason Day beat Louis Oosthuizen 5&4

WGC Dell Match Play Tips

THE COURSE

Pete Dye’s Austin Country Club sets up perfectly for match-play golf. Possessing a good balance between more demanding holes, where par is a good score, to plenty of risk-reward opportunities.  

All par 5s are scorable and there are two drivable par 4s that come into play on the back nine. The 13th hole, which requires a tee-shot directly over water to a narrow green that is incredibly difficult to hold and the 18th hole when tees are pushed up, though by no means is it a guaranteed birdie. If short and right, which is where many players end up when going for it, you’re left with a difficult up and down to an elevated green.

A par 71 measuring 7108 yards, it’s a traditionally tree-lined course for the most part, with doglegs,  plenty of elevation changes throughout and a number of penalty areas in-play. Though if you can get your ball in play, there are plenty of birdie chances out there.

Typically with Pete Dye the bermuda greens are on the small side and can play quite fast. Protected by a wealth of penal bunkering, another classic Dye trademark.

Match-play is hardly a new concept, but it is very much an infrequent visitor on the current schedule. Bar team-golf events like the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, this is the only time we see players competing in match-play throughout the year. Though despite that there are a number of things that continue to standout in finding a winner. 

The main thing being that the short-game is huge, both on and around the greens. Of course, when elite ball-strikers show up, they’re capable of winning just about anywhere and in any form of the game, much like we saw in 2017 as Dustin Johnson gained victory over Jon Rahm. Though aside from that, there’s been a theme of players who excel with the short-game.

Go back to the aforementioned first edition here, as we saw Jason Day triumph over Louis Oosthuizen. For all Jason Day was a good ball-striker back in 2016, he’s always shone with the short-game, this shown by him ranking 1st in putting and 12th around-the-greens in the year he won there.

Kevin Kisner’s excellent record in the event here at Austin Country Club adds further credence to this belief. As one of the best putters, particularly on bermuda, on tour. He finished 2nd to Bubba Watson in 2018 and came back the following year to pick up the title, beating off fellow short-game specialist Matt Kuchar in 2019.

With last year, Billy Horschel, one of the best putters on tour in recent years coming out on top against Texan, Scottie Scheffler. Who is just an all-round talent and very much looking in that “elite” bracket based on his two victories so far this year.

Further strength to this opinion is found with the records in this event of the likes of Alex Noren, who’s reached a semi-final and a quarter final in three starts in this event. With Ian Poulter and Brian Harman both getting past the group stages multiple times in recent years. All possessing quality on and around-the-greens.

With the likes of Rahm, Day and DJ, to go with the shorter, steadier Kisner, Kuchar, Harman types, there appears to be no real advantage/disadvantage to length around here, at least in this format. I also think that because of said format you have to look at the event differently than you would in a stroke-play event. 

Where some of the longer, less accurate ball-strikers would rack up some big numbers around here to put themselves out of the tournament in stroke-play, they’re only losing one hole in this format and can bounce back, in essence, to level par on the next hole. This is why just about any ball-striking type is able to have a say at the course in match-play.

THE WEATHER

This course and golf in Texas in general can always be susceptible to wind. This doesn’t appear to be massively in play for most of the week, though may kick up for the semis and final on Sunday.

THE FIELD

The nature of these events means we get a field studded with the best players on the planet. 64 of the world’s top 74 make up the field, with Cameron Smith, Rory McIlroy, Sam Burns, Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson and Harris English the only players who qualified missing.

SELECTIONS

There’s no doubt you need a huge slice of luck in this event. 64 players split into 16 groups, with only one player from each group qualifying for the knockout stages. You get off to a bad start in your first group game and it’s a long road back. It’s for this reason that I’m not interested in the very top of the market and why I’ll be keeping it light, with one selection from each quarter of the draw. All e/w 8 places, meaning a quarter-final appearance guarantees the place.

Golf betting tips
Tyrrell Hatton each-way (1/5 8 places)
28/1
Odds correct as of 2022-03-22 09:30 Odds subject to change.

GROUP 13:

  • Tyrrell Hatton
  • Daniel Berger
  • Christiaan Bezuidenhout
  • Siwoo Kim

I’m going to kick off with Tyrrell Hatton, who has enjoyed a good start to 2022. He started his year out on the DP World Tour in the UAE with two excellent performances. First finishing 6th in the Abu Dhabi Championship and followed with 4th the following week in the Dubai Desert Classic.

He then headed over to Saudi Arabia, finishing 13th, before making his first trip stateside in 2022, teeing it up in the final three events of the Florida swing. A superb 2nd place finish in the Arnold Palmer Invitational was followed by 13th in THE PLAYERS and a solid 21st in the Valspar Championship last week.

Hatton’s game is looking in good shape across the board, with the putter particularly firing so far this season and sees him rank 1st on the PGA Tour. The ball-striking is also looking strong and though he looks a little rusty around-the-greens I’m not too concerned, as it’s usually a strong part of his game.

Looking further into his game this year and he leads the bounce back stat on the PGA Tour, which monitors how often a player responds to a bogey or worse on one hole, with a birdie+ on the next. In match-play, where huge errors aren’t punished quite as much as in stroke-play, a triple bogey counting as a loss of one hole at worst, as opposed to a three-stroke deficit in stroke-play. The ability to forget what happened on the previous hole and reset on the next one feels incredibly important.

Hatton has a strong record in the WGC-Matchplay here at Austin Country Club. In four appearances here he’s twice gotten to the knockout stages and has a record of 6 (wins) - 6 (losses) - 2 (halves).

He also possesses some strong form at other Pete Dye courses, with a 3rd place finish in the RBC Heritage and top 20s both in THE PLAYERS Championship and Travelers Championship.

Aside from Daniel Berger, Hatton’s group is completed by Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Siwoo Kim. Berger is the main danger here but has a poor record in the event and Hatton alone has won as many matches here at Austin Country Club as the other three combined. 

Should he qualify for the last 16, a tie against one of Patrick Cantlay, Sungjae Im, Keith Mitchell or Seamus Power awaits. Cantlay has never got out of the group stage here, though has been a tad unlucky, whilst Sungjae is making only his 2nd appearance and Seamus Power is making his debut. Cantlay would be the obvious danger but he’s looking off with the irons so far this year and I’d fancy Hatton in current form to see him off should we get that far.

Hatton’s game is in a good place and he’s a great match player, thanks in no small part to a dogged, determined attitude. With the form he’s in with the putter at the moment I expect him to be a dangerous opponent this week and think he has a good chance to go further here than he’s previously gone before.

Joaquin Niemann each-way (1/5 8 places)
33/1
Odds correct as of 2022-03-22 09:30 Odds subject to change.

GROUP 14:

  • Joaquin Niemann
  • Maverick McNealy
  • Russell Henley
  • Kevin Na

Recent Genesis Invitational winner, Joaquin Niemann really stood out to me in the 4th quarter of the draw. He’s a player in form and has what looks, on paper, to be a rather kind group. With the quality he’s showing around-the-greens this year he will make a stubborn opponent this week.

Before the incredibly impressive victory at Riviera, Niemann had already made a good start to the year. With finishes of 6th in the Farmers Insurance Open and 8th in the Saudi International preceding that win.

Since then he missed the cut in the Honda Classic but came back well two weeks ago at THE PLAYERS. Finishing 22nd and was up near the top of the leaderboard throughout various points of the week.

Niemann’s game has been in good condition all-round this year. With 6th in approach and 28th around-the-greens particularly appealing this week. He’s also driving it excellently and has produced some good putting performances in recent weeks. This all leads to a player who ranks 18th on tour this season in birdies average.

He’s played here once and though not getting out of the group last year, he never lost a match. Picking up one victory and two halves before eventually losing out to Bubba Watson in a play-off.

Niemann can also take confidence in the fact that both Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson have won here as well as at Riviera. Also possessing strong Dye form, with 5th place finishes at both the RBC Heritage and Travelers Championship. As well as two top 30s on his latest two starts in THE PLAYERS Championship.

Group 14 is made up of Maverick McNealy, Kevin Na and Russell Henley, along with Niemann. A group I think Niemann should take all the beating in. McNealy is making his debut here and Na was very poor last time out in the API. Henley would be the biggest worry if able to continue to show form with the putter but seems much more brittle mentally these days.

A last 16 tie with one of Viktor Hovland, Will Zalatoris, Cameron Tringale or Sepp Straka would await, should Niemann get out of the group. A potential cracker of a tie against one of two other young studs would be a must watch.

He’s in excellent form and performed admirably on debut here last year. With a little luck he’ll get out of the group this year and will be a formidable opponent for anyone in the knockout stages of the competition.

US Masters odds
Max Homa each-way (1/5 8 places)
50/1
Odds correct as of 2022-03-22 09:30 Odds subject to change.

GROUP 8:

  • Max Homa
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Mackenzie Hughes
  • Matthew Wolff

Max Homa has been in excellent form so far this year and looks primed to build on a promising debut performance in this event last year.

In six starts in 2022, Homa has missed just one cut and hit the top 20 in each of his other five appearances, finishing no worse than 17th. This a continuation of the form he’d shown in the latter part of 2021, where he picked up his 3rd PGA Tour title in the Fortinet Championship.

It’s hard to pinpoint what is engineering such consistent form as he’s looked strong in every area. The ball-striking looking particularly good but has produced plenty of quality on and around-the-greens in these opening few months too.

He made his debut here last year and despite getting knocked out in the group stages, he won two of his three matches. Losing out to eventual champion, Billy Horschel in a playoff. Much like Niemann, he’s another winner of the Genesis, which adds further confidence to his chances.

His group is very winnable but equally has the potential to be a bit of a banana skin. Dustin Johnson is still struggling for form but he’s Dustin Johnson and a past winner, Mackenzie Hughes is the type of short-game demon that will frustrate anyone in this format and though Matthew Wolff looks off the pace, we know the type of talent he possesses.

All that being said, it does look a kind part of the draw. If Homa gets through his group, a last 16 contest with Bryson DeChambeau, Talor Gooch, Lee Westwood or Richard Bland awaits. Bryson has been struggling with injuries this year and while you can’t dismiss the other three, there’s no doubt it’s one of the weaker groups in the competition on paper. 

Looking in good nick in all areas, Homa can capitalise on his early season form, as well as this favourable part of the draw, to reach the knockout stages this year. Where he’ll surely be a tough nut to crack for anyone with his game showing little in the way of weaknesses at the moment.

Lucas Herbert each-way (1/5 8 Places)
125/1
Odds correct as of 2022-03-22 09:35 Odds subject to change.

GROUP 7:

  • Lucas Herbert
  • Xander Schauffele
  • Tony Finau 
  • Takumi Kanaya

Over to the 2nd quarter of the draw and I’m going to take a chance on a debutant, Lucas Herbert. I think his group is definitely winnable and with the quality of his short-game and the dogged way he’s ground out victories in his career so far, I think he may well be a natural at match-play.

Herbert’s year so far has been one of inconsistencies, but he’s played plenty of good golf. He started in the Sentry ToC over in Hawaii, finishing 37th of 38 players. Following this with a rock solid two-week spell in the Middle East, with finishes of 18th in the Dubai Desert Classic and 21st in the Saudi International. 

Before heading over to the states, missing his first two cuts in mainland USA this year, in Phoenix and at the Honda Classic. He bounced back excellently from there, with a 7th place finish in a brutally difficult Arnold Palmer Invitational. With 68th in the chaos of THE PLAYERS Championship his most recent result.

For all this big hitter’s long game has failed to fire this year, the short game has looked in fine form. As he ranks 4th in putting and 44th around-the-greens. Much like Hatton it’s also a good sign to see him rank high in the bounce back statistic, where he ranks 8th this season.

He’s making his debut here and is in an interesting but doable group. Fellow debutant, Japan’s Takumi Kanaya, joins him in group 7. Along with Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele. Who both have decent records in terms of matches won but have yet to get out of the group stages in a combined five attempts at Austin Country Club.

Herbert wouldn’t be on my radar here if it was a stroke-play event, as I think his ball-striking is too wayward at the minute but in this format he looks a different proposition. He’ll make mistakes and lose holes, but he’ll bounce back from that and make his fare share of birdies, particularly taking advantage of the par 5s and short par 4s with his length off-the-tee. Add in the quality of his short-game and I think this talented Aussie will ruffle a few feathers this week in Texas.

Golf odds
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