WGC-Dell Match Play Power Rankings

Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Thomas
Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Thomas are a few of the top names teeing it up this week in Austin, Texas at the WGC-Dell Match Play. (PGW Graphics, Getty Images)

As wildly entertaining as the PGA Tour has been lately, fans have every reason to be extra excited this week, as the action goes from the grueling stroke play to a completely different game in match play. 64 of the world’s best golfers, with only No. 12 Brooks Koepka and No. 25 Adam Scott missing from the top 25 in the Official World Golf Ranking, assemble this week at Austin Country Club for the annual WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

It provides a badly needed re-do bracket for all those who have already torn up their NCAA Basketball one. (That includes myself: an embarrassed Big 10 homer.)

One of the tournaments lost during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis, match-play god Kevin Kisner has been a defending champion for two years, but even with making the past two championship matches, Kisner will have a difficult time even getting out of group play this year, as he was among the unlucky four to draw the Group of Death, in addition to recent PLAYERS Champion Justin Thomas, match-play star Louis Oosthuizen, and 2013 Match Play champion Matt Kuchar, who Kisner beat in the 2019 championship final.

This field is stacked, and some players were much luckier than others with the draw. Here is who we like best to make it deep into the madness this year:

15. Jason Day

Jason Day Farmers Insurance Open
Jason Day during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines GC on Jan 28, 2018. Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Only three players have won the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play multiple times, and of those three, two are absent this week: Tiger Woods (badly injured) and Geoff Ogilvy (abducted by aliens, or fell into a bottomless pit maybe? We have no idea).

That leaves 33-year-old Jason Day, who took the 2014 edition, the last single-elimination event, and then repeated in the current format in 2016, where he played the final hole just once in seven matches (Rory McIlroy in the semi-finals) and dismantled Louis Oosthuizen 5&4 in the championship match.

However Day, who was No. 2 in the world during that last win, has fallen to No. 47, has not won since the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship, and has lost his last five matches in this event, all to players more than ten years his senior (Jason Dufner, Louis Oosthuizen, Jim Furyk, Henrik Stenson, and Phil Mickelson, respectively).

Still, he has looked much healthier and much improved since the Tour re-start last summer, with six results of T7 or better and two more in the teens (T12, T18). A week in serious contention feels on the horizon, and there is no better event for him to do that than this one.

World Rank: 47
Field Rank: 44
Odds To Win: 40-1
Group 6: Xander Schauffele (6), Scottie Scheffler (30), Andy Sullivan (57)
Schedule: Scheffler (W), Schauffele (T), Sullivan (F)

14. Abraham Ancer

Abraham Ancer 2020 Masters
Abraham Ancer stands on the second green during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on November 15, 2020 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The Mexican was a revelation for Ernie Els’ 2019 Presidents Cup team, despite being a team play rookie. He went 3-0-1 in team play for the International squad, earning a co-high 3.5 points. He was even trusted to face American captain and MVP Tiger Woods in Sunday singles, losing 3 and 2 despite a valiant effort.

Ancer has played the WGC-Dell Match Play just once, going 2-1-0, losing his opening match to Paul Casey before convincing wins over Cameron Smith and Charles Howell III.

The world No. 29 is still looking for his first PGA Tour title, and it could very well be this week, in a format where he is comfortable. It also helps that he has finished T18 or better in each of his past five WGC starts. The 28-year old also got a favorable draw as the B player in group 13 with Match Play rookie Viktor Hovland, Bernd Wiesberger, and Kevin Streelman, none of whom have done much in this event.

World Rank: 29
Field Rank: 27
Odds To Win: 66-1
Group 13: Viktor Hovland (13), Bernd Wiesberger (43), Kevin Streelman (58)
Schedule: Wiesberger (W), Streelman (T), Hovland (F)

13. Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele
Xander Schauffele plays his shot from the 12th tee during the first round of The Genesis Invitational at Riviera CC on Feb 18, 2021 in Pacific Palisades, CA. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The world No. 6 is officially in “What’s wrong with them?” territory. After 16 consecutive starts inside the top 25, which included a win and three runner-ups, the four-time Tour winner followed up a disappointing T39 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a shocking missed cut at THE PLAYERS Championship.

Schauffele had seven bogeys and two doubles in just two rounds at TPC Sawgrass, and playing miserably off the tees and on the greens. Even with those recent struggles though, he is second on Tour in strokes gained: total, and is in the top 8 in both birdie and scoring average.

His short match play history has been mostly good, and in two starts at the WGC Match Play he is 3-2-1, with the losses coming against Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello, respectively.

Fortunately for the 27-year-old, there are no Spaniards in his group this year, although he will still have his hands tied battling the strong trio of Scottie Scheffler, Jason Day, and Andy Sullivan.

World Rank: 6
Field Rank: 6
Odds To Win: 25-1
Group 6: Scottie Scheffler (30), Jason Day (44), Andy Sullivan (57)
Schedule: Sullivan (W), Day (T), Scheffler (F)

12. Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth talks with his caddie Michael Greller on the ninth tee during the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Spyglass Hill Golf Course on February 12, 2021 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Looking to snap the Tour’s most agonizing winless streak (since the 2017 Open Championship), Jordan Spieth underwhelmed at THE PLAYERS Championship, finishing T48 in spite of top-15s in his previous four starts coming into the week.

We are willing to overlook that pedestrian effort at TPC Sawgrass, though, as he struggled in that event even when he was considered among the world’s best.

The native Texan has to be excited to bring his recently improved form back to Austin. He is better in team play than individual, but has hardly been terrible solo. While he has yet to make a deep run at the WGC Match Play, he has a record of 10-5-2, not recording a losing record in any of his five starts.

Also, we like his draw, where he is the D player in Group 15 with Matthew Fitzpatrick, Matthew Wolff, and Corey Conners.

World Rank: 54
Field Rank: 49
Odds To Win: 25-1
Group 15: Matthew Fitzpatrick (15), Matthew Wolff (20), Corey Conners (37)
Schedule: Fitzpatrick (W), Wolff (T), Conners (F)

11. Louis Oosthuizen

Louis Oosthuizen THE NORTHERN TRUST at TPC Boston
Louis Oosthuizen plays his shot from the fourth tee during the final round of The Northern Trust at TPC Boston on Aug 23, 2020 in Norton, Mass. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

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 five editions, including a runner-up finish to Jason Day in 2016.

Surprisingly, the 38-year-old has not won on the PGA Tour since his demolishing of the 2010 Open Championship, which did not happen in the U.S.(and was his only Tour win), but he has a penchant for showing up on the bigger stages, and has played well over the past year, placing third at the U.S. Open, and T6 in each of the last two WGC events.

We would the chances of the world No. 23 better had he not drawn the group of death with Justin Thomas, Kevin Kisner, and Matt Kuchar.

His experience and stellar match play record make him among the favorites in spite of that unfortunate draw.

World Rank: 23
Field Rank: 22
Odds To Win: 40-1
Group 2: Justin Thomas (2), Kevin Kisner (34), Matt Kuchar (52)
Schedule: Kisner (W), Kuchar (T), Thomas (F)

10. Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy reacts on the 16th green during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 5, 2021 in Orlando, FL. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Few players in the field have had more success in match play than Rory McIlroy, who is 32-17-3 in his solo match career. Seven of those victories came at the 2015 WGC Match Play, the first played in the current format, where he survived 20+ hole outings against Billy Horschel and Paul Casey before defeating Gary Woodland 4&2 in the championship match.

McIlroy also reached the consolation match in 2016, and went undefeated in group play in the last edition, before getting clipped by Tiger Woods 2&1 in the round of 32.

The 31-year-old four-time major champion has shockingly fallen out of the top 10 in the OWGR (currently 11th), and is now in a two-year winless drought worldwide, dating back to the 2019 PLAYERS Championship. However, while he has not been winning tournament, he still regularly contends, with 25 top 10s over the past three Tour seasons and more success overseas.

His best is still world No. 1 quality, so we will never count him out anywhere, but If you ask us, Rory appears to have completely lost his killer instinct. He came into his championship defense at THE PLAYERS two weeks ago on a T6-T10 streak, but was absolutely abysmal at TPC Sawgrass, missing the cut after opening 79-75. Rory just does not do that.

World Rank: 11
Field Rank: 11
Odds To Win: 20-1
Group 11: Cameron Smith (25), Lanto Griffin (46), Ian Poulter (60)
Schedule: Poulter (W), Griffin (T), Smith (F)

9. Collin Morikawa

Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa tees off on the 6th hole during the final round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 23, 2019 in Cromwell, CT. Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

We have absolutely no idea what to expect from the world No. 4 this week, because we have literally never seen him in this format. That being said, it is difficult to bet against the 24-year-old seeing as his four wins among just 40 Tour starts include the PGA Championship, and the most recent WGC event played, last month’s WGC-Workday Championship At The Concession.

He has not looked intimated at any point, and has been phenomenal in every aspect of the game that is not putting. He leads the Tour in strokes gained: approach-the-green, third in strokes gained: tee-to-green, and ranks inside the top 10 in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation.

If precision becomes important this week (when isn’t it?), Collin Morikawa’s chances of a deep run are very good.

World Rank: 4
Field Rank: 4
Odds To Win: 20-1
Group 11: Billy Horschel (32), Max Homa (35), J.T. Poston (63)
Schedule: Poston (W), Homa (T), Horschel (F)

8. Sergio Garcia

Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia reacts after making an eagle putt on the 9th hole during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on Mar 11, 2021, in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. (Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

With Tiger Woods out this week (and for the forseeable future) the 41-year-old Spaniard has the most match play experience of anyone in the field, and once he plays his third match, will pass Woods for most matches played in this event.

In the most recent edition of this event, Sergio won a difficult group (Patrick Reed, Shane Lowry, and Andrew Putnam), and reached the quarterfinals before losing to match-play star Matt Kuchar. He also made it out of the group stage in 2018.

Garcia will be hard pressed to make it three in a row, as he has drawn the British trio of Lee Westwood, who finished runner-up at both the Arnold Palmer Invitational and THE PLAYERS Championship, Matt Wallace, and whatever version of Tyrrell Hatton shows up this week.

Current Sergio may not be peak Sergio, but he has three finishes of T12 or better in his last five starts worldwide, and exploded out of the gates at THE PLAYERS Championship two weeks ago to grab the opening-round lead. He ended up finishing T9.

Actually, Sergio currently is second on Tour in strokes gained: off-the-tee, 10th in strokes gained: tee-to-green, and 190th in strokes gained: putting, so maybe he is still peak Sergio after all.

World Rank: 42
Field Rank: 39
Odds To Win: 40-1
Group 8: Tyrrell Hatton (8), Lee Westwood (18), Matt Wallace (55)
Schedule: Westwood (W), Hatton (T), Wallace (F)

7. Kevin Kisner

Kevin Kisner
Kevin Kisner celebrates after defeating Matt Kuchar 3&2 to win the WGC-Dell Match Play at Austin CC on Mar 31, 2019 in Austin, TX. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The WGC Match Play defending champion, Kevin Kisner is flat-out elite in match play, also making the final match two editions ago. He has a career singles record of 14-5-2, and was 2-0-2 in his one team play appearance (2017 Presidents Cup).

Kisner will definitely be motivated to get himself in position to make the upcoming Ryder Cup team, and if he makes another run in Austin this week, U.S. captain Steve Stricker would be very, very hard pressed to leave him off the team.

Recent form is a concern, however: he missed the cut at THE PLAYERS after opening with a pair of 75s and in his last eight rounds on Tour, he has just one round of better than 72, and two that were even worse than those 75s.

His work around the greens is puzzling for someone who putts so phenomenally He also got stuck in the group of death with Justin Thomas, Louis Oosthuizen, and Matt Kuchar, the latter of whom he knocked out in the 2019 final.

World Rank: 36
Field Rank: 34
Odds To Win: 50-1
Group 2: Justin Thomas (2), Louis Oosthuizen (22), Matt Kuchar (52)
Schedule: Oosthuizen (W), Thomas (T), Kuchar (F)

6. Paul Casey

Paul Casey Wins Valspar Championship
Paul Casey tees off on the 13th hole during Sunday’s finale of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course on Mar 24, 2019 in Palm Harbor, FL. Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

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, and in the midst of inconsistent play, the 43-year old Brit has performed well at the WGC Match Play, advancing past group play in four of the five editions under the new format.

Casey’s best event was the 2015 edition, where he took eventual tournament champion Rory McIlroy to 22 holes in the quarterfinals.

Up to No. 18 in the OWGR, Casey is playing his best golf in years, with six consecutive finishes worldwide inside the top dozen, including a four-stroke triumph at the European Tour’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic and a T5 at THE PLAYERS Championship two weeks ago.

We like him to again make it out of group play, where he is the B golfer in group 9 with Webb Simpson, Mackenzie Hughes, and Talor Gooch.

World Rank: 36
Field Rank: 34
Odds To Win: 25-1
Group 9: Webb Simpson (9), Mackenzie Hughes (48), Talor Gooch (59)
Schedule: Hughes (W), Gooch (T), Simpson (F)

5. Jon Rahm

Jon Rahm TPC Boston
Jon Rahm plays a shot on the 13th hole during round two of the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston on Sep 2, 2017 in Norton, Mass. Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

It says an awful lot about how good Rahm is that in 11 starts worldwide since winning last fall’s BMW Championship, the second round of the FedExCup Playoffs, he has seven top 10s, and three additional results of 17th or better… and it feels like he is slumping.

The world No. 3 might not be winning at the clip he is used to, but he is still a world-class player, and easily among the favorites in Austin this week.

In his 2017 WGC Match Play debut, “Rahmbo” 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, nearly coming all the way back from 5-down through eight holes.

He has been unable to recreate that magic in the past two editions, losing matches to some players he was not expected to Chez Reavie, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, and J.B. Holmes.

The 26-year-old is second on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

World Rank: 36
Field Rank: 34
Odds To Win: 25-1
Group 9: Ryan Palmer (24), Shane Lowry (38), Sebastian Munoz (56)
Schedule: Munoz (W), Lowry (T), Palmer (F)

4. Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas Wins The PLAYERS Championship
Justin Thomas reacts to his shot from the 9th tee during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass on Mar 14, 2021, in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

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.

Thomas has made it out of group play just once, reaching the quarterfinals in 2018, where he lost to Bubba Watson and then lost to Alex Noren in the third-place game.

It is hard to argue his form, though: he was phenomenal at THE PLAYERS, putting together possibly the best ball-striking final round of his career, and since the Tour re-start last year, he has two wins, two runner-ups, two thirds, a fourth, and six other top-15 finishes.

World Rank: 2
Field Rank: 2
Odds To Win: 12-1
Group 2: Louis Oosthuizen (22), Kevin Kisner (34), Matt Kuchar (52)
Schedule: Kuchar (W), Kisner (T), Oosthuizen (F)

3. Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson acknowledges fans during round one of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town GL on Apr 12, 2018 in Hilton Head, SC. Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR

The world No. 1 has cooled off after arguably the hottest stretch of his professional career, where he won The Masters and the FedExCup. He was T54 at WGC-Workday Championship At The Concession, opening with a 77 and closing with a 78, and then not factoring into a T48 at THE PLAYERS two weeks ago.

There is not any reported injury issue for his sudden drop-off, so we are not exceptionally concerned. He is a bit of a wild card, though, as he won the 2017 WGC Match Play, knocking off Jon Rahm in the final match, who had been absolutely obliterating everyone in the previous rounds. But he was downright abysmal in the 2018 edition and was only marginally better in 2019, comfortably beating Chez Reavie in group play but then losing to both Branden Grace and Hideki Matsuyama.

Regardless of all that, it is difficult to dispute that DJ got a favorable draw, with only Kevin Na, who withdrew from THE PLAYERS two weeks ago with a finger injury, as the only big threat in his group (Robert MacIntyre and Adam Long are the other two).

World Rank: 1
Field Rank: 1
Odds To Win: 14-1
Group 1: Kevin Na (28), Robery MacIntyre (41), Adam Long (61)
Schedule: Long (W), MacIntyre (T), Na (F)

2. Cameron Smith

Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith tees off on the 6th hole during the third round of the WGC-Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec on Feb 23, 2019 in Mexico City. Photo by Keyur Khamar/Getty Images via PGA TOUR

We see a deep run coming from the Cameron Smith this week, who upset Justin Thomas in Sunday singles at the last President’s Cup.

The 27-year old Aussie finished T2 at The Masters in November, and after struggling some to start the 2021 calendar year, has bounced back with a 4-T11-T17 stretch in his last three starts. (That T11 came at the most recent WGC event, the WGC-Workday Championship At Concession, in spite of a third round 77.)

Smith is not the greatest driver, but is absolutely dialed in with every other part of his game.

This will be his third WGC Match Play, with his best finish coming in 2018, where he defeated Patrick Cantlay, Hideki Matsuyama, and Tyrrell Hatton before losing in the quarterfinals to Alex Noren.

World Rank: 11
Field Rank: 11
Odds To Win: 20-1
Group 11: Rory McIlroy (11), Lanto Griffin (46), Ian Poulter (60)
Schedule: Griffin (W), Poulter (T), McIlroy (F)

1. Bryson DeChambeau

Bryson DeChambeau Wins the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Bryson DeChambeau plays his shot from the sixth tee during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Club on Mar 7, 2021 in Orlando, FL. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The current FedExCup points leader, and reigning U.S. Open Champion, Bryson DeChambeau has been in the final Sunday pairing in his last two starts, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational and then finishing T3 at THE PLAYERS – although his finish in the latter was somewhat disappointing.

The world No. 5 got an extremely favorable draw in the Match Play, getting an up-and-down Tommy Fleetwood, Si Woo Kim, who lost his three matches in the most recent edition 6&4, 6&4, and 7&5, and a European Tour player no one has ever heard of in Antoine Rozner, who is making his PGA Tour debut.

DeChambeau has mostly been terrible in match play as a professional, but did once win the U.S. Amateur. The Tour leader in strokes gained: tee-to-green, it is really difficult to put much stock in his previous match play struggles. He plays the intimidator, not the intimidated.

World Rank: 5
Field Rank: 5
Odds To Win: 12-1
Group 11: Tommy Fleetwood (21), Si Woo Kim (45), Antoine Rozner (58)
Schedule: Rozner (W), Kim (T), Fleetwood (F)

Next Five: Sungjae Im, Patrick Reed, Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Kevin Na



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