This article is part of our Golf Picks series.
WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Betting Preview
With the Florida Swing in the rearview mirror, the PGA Tour heads west to Austin Country Club for golf's version of "March Madness."
Notables Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Cameron Smith and Sam Burns aren't in Texas, but the field still includes 45 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking, and also Bryson DeChambeau, who is back after an extended hiatus.
This event slots 64 players into 16 groups of four, and each pod will play a round-robin format in the group stage, with the winners advancing to the Round of 16. The full bracket can be found here.
Last year, 32nd-seed Billy Horschel, at 80-1 odds, took down No. 30 Scottie Scheffler 2&1 in the final to pick up his fifth PGA Tour victory. The upsets were plentiful in last year's tournament, with only one of the top 16 seeds advancing and half of those who made the quarterfinal being the worst seed in his group. It's a common theme for this event, as only 30 percent of the top-seeded players have advanced in the five editions that have been held at this venue.
At around 7,100 yards, Austin CC is a short course by Tour standards, and it isn't a track where the longer hitters will have a huge advantage. As a result, I'm looking to target players that keep the ball in play off the tee and excel with their irons. Short-game play is also an important factor in this format.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 6:00 PM ET Tuesday.
The following five golfers, with a minimum of two appearances, have won the highest percentage of their matches at Austin CC. Ties are calculated as half a win.
- Alex Noren: 12-3-0 (80.0 percent)
- Ian Poulter: 9-3-0 (75.0 percent)
- Kevin Kisner: 16-6-1 (71.7 percent)
- Billy Horschel: 8-4-1 (65.4 percent)
- Jon Rahm: 10-5-3 (63.9 percent)
After failing to qualify for the Match Play last year, Noren has gotten back on track, notching a pair of top-10s in the playoffs last season and a couple more already this year. As a result, he is now back up to No. 56 in the world. Although he's not the first person people think of when it comes to success in this event, his results speak for themselves: Noren has never had a losing record in three appearances and has both a semifinal and quarterfinal finish on his resume. Noren will have to go through some veterans in the group stage, however, with Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Casey in his draw. Nobody has more wins in Austin than Kisner, who followed up a runner-up finish in 2018 by defeating Matt Kuchar 3&2 to take home the trophy a year later. Despite his stellar track record and three top-10s -- including a fourth-place finish at THE PLAYERS -- on his card since the start of 2022, Kisner is being a bit overlooked by the oddsmakers at 50-1.
True to Form
These players, on a per-round basis, gained the most strokes on approach over their last 20 rounds.
Hovland has taken his game to another level, with three worldwide wins since last November. He has gotten the job done thanks to his exceptional ball striking, and he ranks top-12 this season in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Approach. He'll be making his second appearance in this event after going 1-2-0 in group play last year. He comes in as the second choice on the board at 14-1 odds to win, trailing only the favorite, Rahm, who is listed at 12-1. An under-the-radar player performing right now is Henley, who has made the cut in all six attempts this season and has finished no lower than T33. His game fits Austin CC very well, as he lacks length off the tee but is above average everywhere else. Henley leads the Tour in SG: Approach this season and checks in at 35-1 odds to win.
Group 1 - Sebastian Munoz (+330)
This is an interesting group with Rahm, up-and-comer Cameron Young and match play extraordinaire Patrick Reed, but I like Munoz as the long shot in the group. Rahm hasn't looked like his usual self lately and Munoz has five straight top-40 finishes.
Group 2 - Collin Morikawa (+200)
The bookmakers are only giving Morikawa about a 1-in-3 chance of coming out of this group, but it's hard to consider Jason Kokrak and Robert MacIntyre huge threats. I like Morikawa to outlast Sergio Garcia and reach the Round of 16.
Group 3 - Will Zalatoris (+200)
Zalatoris will have to get past Hovland, but considering Hovland went winless in the Ryder Cup last fall and had a losing record in this event last year, that should be a doable.
Group 4 - Sungjae Im (+260)
Group 5 - Matt Fitzpatrick (+250)
You'd be hard pressed to list many golfers playing better than Fitzpatrick, who has notched four top-10s in five starts this year. His only missed cut came at THE PLAYERS, where he was on the wrong side of the weather.
Group 6 - Kevin Kisner (+260)
I touched on Kisner earlier, and he gets a good draw as the second seed in a group that features Justin Thomas, who has a losing record in this event. He provides some value as the third choice in this group, slightly behind Marc Leishman.
Group 7 - Takumi Kanaya (+350)
Surprises happen every year, and the 23-year-old could be the one in 2022. He shouldn't be overwhelmed, having made a pair of PGA Tour starts this season and finishing seventh in a strong field at the ZOZO Championship last fall.
Group 8 - Dustin Johnson (+165)
The 2017 winner has shown improved form the last couple weeks, giving me enough confidence to think he will advance out of this group.
Group 9 - Richard Bland (+330)
I like going with the long shot in this group considering DeChambeau will be rusty and we haven't seen much out of Lee Westwood this year.
Group 10 - Louis Oosthuizen (+200)
This is the strongest group as a whole, and I lean towards Oosthuizen, who has won 13 matches in his five appearances in Austin.
Group 11 - Jordan Spieth (+210)
If there's a place for Spieth to return to form, it's back in his home state and in the city where he played his college golf.
Group 12 - Tom Hoge (+250)
Hoge will have to get by defending champion Horschel, but he has looked like a borderline top-25 player since February.
Group 13 - Daniel Berger (+210)
Berger has traded distance for low, accurate drives, which has really elevated him as of late. That should be a recipe for success this week.
Group 14 - Russell Henley (+220)
Group 15 - Abraham Ancer (+230)
Ancer's game is all about hitting fairways and greens and making putts, and sometimes it's just that simple in this format.
Group 16 - Brooks Koepka (+220)
Kopeka has a winning record in this event and will be difficult to beat if he's not wild off the tee. This is a tough group, as Shane Lowry is in good form, but I like a focused Koepka.
Will Zalatoris (35-1)
It's time for Zalatoris to break through and pick up his first PGA Tour victory. He's been close multiple times, with a pair of runner-up finishes in his brief career. Plus, he played this event last year, so he does have experience. Zalatoris doesn't have any match play juggernauts in his group, and he won't face one in the quarterfinals either. Zalatoris, who ranks top-10 this season in both SG: Off-the-Tee and Approach, brings a lot of potential value to the table as the 15th choice on the board.