Coming off a win The PLAYERS, Justin Thomas was a top-betting favorite and one of the most talked about names leading into the WGC-Dell Match Play. Then Monday’s draw came and JT went from favorite to jobbed.
Joel Cook described it this way in his Power Rankings post:
Wow. You would think the world No. 2, who just won THE PLAYERS Championship would get a more favorable draw, but he was done no favors, getting stuck in the Group of Death with three experienced Match Play dynamos.
That group contains defending champion Kevin Kisner, who has made the last two final matches, Louis Oosthuizen, who finished runner-up in 2016 and made the quarterfinals last time, and Matt Kuchar, the 2013 champion and 2019 runner-up.
The fear of a marquee name getting taken out early is exactly how it played out. Thomas was walloped by Kuchar in the opening match, only making it look a respectable 3&2 with a late charge.
The same thing pretty much happened on Thursday, as Kisner rolled out to an early 4-up lead, and eventually clinched it 2&1 after a back-nine (but too late) surge by Thomas.
And just like that, the world No. 2 is finished after only two days of golf in Texas. And it’s why the match play format is not used more often on the PGA Tour, as it’s a dicey proposition for its TV partners.
Friday is generally the day when the group’s A and B players square off to decide who moves on to the weekend. Except the “group championship” here will be decided in a match between the C (Kisner) and D (Kuchar) players.
Thomas (A) and Louis Oosthuizen (B), both 0-2, will be playing to NOT finish in dead last place, but second-to-last place.
Watch Kevin Kisner’s highlights: