The PGA Tour sets up shop in Texas this week for the 23rd edition of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Contested at Austin Country Club, the tournament features 64 players vying for a $12,000,000 purse at the Tour’s only match play event.
Billy Horschel is the defending champion, and should be a heavy favorite to move out of group (12) play again as he drew three players (Thomas Pieters, Tom Hoge and Min Woo Lee) who are not exactly considered heavy hittters.
This field is super stacked, and some players (such as Horschel) were much luckier than others with the draw. Here is who we like best to make it deep into the madness this year:
10. Jordan Spieth
The one-time Golden Child of golf snapped out of his extended slump last season, posting nine top-10s, including his first win since 2017… He briefly entered the world top 10 but seemed to run out of gas down the stretch and faded in the playoffs (finishing T24 out of 30). His 2022 season has been somewhat of a disappointment, with just one top-10 finish (albeit a solo second at Pebble) in seven starts… His most recent three starts have been particularly concerning (MC, T26, T60)… The native Texan has to be excited, though, to be back in home state where he’s won twice (Colonial, Valero)… While he has yet to make a deep run at the WGC Match Play, he has a record of 12-5-3, not recording a losing record in any of his six starts.
World Rank: 15
Field Rank: 11
Odds To Win: 28-1
Group 15: Adam Scott (32), Justin Rose (46), Keegan Bradley (60)
Schedule: Bradley (W), Rose (T), Scott (F)
9. Louis Oosthuizen
Since the WGC-Match Play moved to its current format in 2015, the accomplished South African Oosthuizen has advanced past the group stage in four of the six editions, including a runner-up finish to Jason Day in 2016… Surprisingly, the 39-year-old has not won on the PGA Tour since his demolishing of the 2010 Open Championship, but he has a penchant for showing up on the bigger stages… His experience and stellar match play record make him among the favorites this week.
World Rank: 14
Field Rank: 10
Odds To Win: 30-1
Group 2: Paul Casey (19), Corey Conners (36), Alex Noren (50)
Schedule: Noren (W), Conners (T), Casey (F)
8. Paul Casey
One of the most experienced, and accomplished, match play golfers in the field, Paul Casey has finished runner-up in this event twice, although they were both on a different course and in the old, single-elimination format (2009, 2010)… Even in recent years, though, the 44-year old Brit has performed well at the WGC Match Play, advancing past group play in five of the last six editions, including last year… Casey’s best event was the 2015 edition, where he took eventual tournament champion Rory McIlroy to 22 holes in the quarterfinals… Casey enters off a solo third-place at the PLAYERS, and is the co-favorite (Louis Oosthuizen) in his group.
World Rank: 24
Field Rank: 19
Odds To Win: 33-1
Group 9: Louis Oosthuizen (10), Corey Conners (36), Alex Noren (50)
Schedule: Conners (W), Noren (T), Oosthuizen (F)
7. Sergio Garcia
The 42-year-old Spaniard has the most match play experience of anyone in the field, and owns the most matches played in this event… Sergio has made it to the final 16 in his last three starts here despite never being a No. 1 seed in group play… He enters Austin is decent form, with six top-26 finishes in his last eight worldwide starts… Being in the group with the world No. 2 would seem like a tough draw but Collin Morikawa went winless in his debut here in 2021.
World Rank: 49
Field Rank: 43
Odds To Win: 40-1
Group 2: Collin Morikawa (2), Jason Kokrak (22), Robert MacIntyre (61)
Schedule: Kokrak (W), Morikawa (T), MacIntyre (F)
6. Collin Morikawa
After going winless (0-2-1) in his round-robin debut at the 2021 WGC-Match Play, then halving Viktor Hovland in his Ryder Cup debut, the world No. 2 enters Austin seeking his first match play win as a tour pro… Morikawa started the PGA Tour season with four-straight top-10s, including three top-5s, but has struggled in his last two starts (MC, T68)… That being said, it is difficult to bet against the 25-year-old star seeing he’s scored a major win in each of his first two full seasons… He has not looked intimated at any point, and has been phenomenal in every aspect of the game that is not putting.
World Rank: 2
Field Rank: 2
Odds To Win: 16-1
Group 2: Robert MacIn (32), Max Homa (35), J.T. Poston (63)
Schedule: Poston (W), Homa (T), Horschel (F)
5. Dustin Johnson
For the first time since May 10, 2015, Dustin Johnson does not appear inside the world top 10 – a nearly seven-year run of elite-level consistency. Now ranked No. 11, DJ has cooled off considerably since arguably the hottest stretch of his tour career, where he won five times in 12 starts, including the the FedExCup and Masters. He is a bit of a wild card, but he did win the 2017 WGC Match Play, knocking off Jon Rahm in the final match, who had been absolutely obliterating everyone in the previous rounds. Regardless of all that, it is difficult to dispute that DJ got a favorable draw, with Max Homa (38), Matt Wolff (38) and Mackenzie Hughes (51) – none considered serious threats.
World Rank: 11
Field Rank: 8
Odds To Win: 22-1
Group 1: Max Homa (38), Matt Wolff (38), Mackenzie Hughes (51)
Schedule: Hughes (W), Wolff (T), Homa (F)
4. Bryson DeChambeau
The big bomber makes his return to the PGA Tour after nearly a two-month absence… Now ranked No. 13, DeChambeau got an extremely favorable draw, getting an untested Talor Gooch, a seriously slumping Lee Westwood (no top-10s in over a year), and a nearly 50-year-old Richard Bland, who is making his first-ever start in a World Golf Championship… DeChambeau has been mostly terrible in match play as a professional, but did once win the U.S. Amateur. He plays the intimidator this week and easily gets out of group play.
World Rank: 13
Field Rank: 9
Odds To Win: 28-1
Group 9: Talor Gooch (27), Lee Westwood (47), Richard Bland (54)
Schedule: Bland (W), Westwood (T), Gooch (F)
3. Billy Horschel
We see an easy path for the defending champ to get out of group play this week, as Horschel got the lucky draw of Thomas Pieters, Tom Hoge and Min Woo Lee – not exactly murderer’s row… Following his win last year in Austin, the 35-year-old capped off his golf season with a win at the BMW PGA Championship – the European Tour’s flagship event… In four career starts since the round-robin format (2015), Horschel has never failed to get out of group play.
World Rank: 16
Field Rank: 12
Odds To Win: 35-1
Group 12: Thomas Pieters (26), Tom Hoge (33), Min Woo Lee (49)
Schedule: Lee (W), Hoge (T), Pieters (F)
2. Jon Rahm
The Spaniard enters off three-straight mediocre to poor results (T55, T17, T21), particularly for his history and status, but he is still world No. 1 and easily among the favorites in Austin this week… In his 2017 WGC Match Play debut, Rahm was unstoppable nearly the entire week (he had one stretch where he won 6&4, 6&4, and 7&5), mowing through group play and not even seeing the 18th hole until the championship match, where he lost 1-up to Dustin Johnson… He was unable to recreate that magic in the two follow-up editions, but bounced back in 2021, making it to the Final 8, before losing to Scottie Scheffler 3&1.
World Rank: 1
Field Rank: 1
Odds To Win: 12-1
Group 1: Shane Lowry (24), Harold Varner III (35), Sebastian Munoz (58)
Schedule: Munoz (W), Varner (T), Lowry (F)
1. Justin Thomas
Still looking for his first win since the 2021 PLAYERS Championship, JT got an unfavorable draw (again) with 2019 champion Kevin Kisner, who also made the 2018 finals, and Aussie Marc Leishman, who’s made it to the final 16 in two of his last three starts in Austin… Thomas, a guru in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, has made it out of group play here just once, reaching the semi-finals in 2018… It is hard to argue his form, though, with six top-10s in his last eight starts, including a T3 at last week’s Valspar event.
World Rank: 7
Field Rank: 6
Odds To Win: 12-1
Group 6: Kevin Kisner (29), Marc Leishman (37), Luke List (53)
Schedule: List (W), Leishman (T), Kisner (F)
Joel Cook contributed to this report.