WGC-Dell Match Play Primer: History, TV, Field, Format, Brackets

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson tees off on the 15th hole during day one of the WGC-Dell Match Play at the Austin CC on Mar 23, 2016 in Austin, TX. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Following an exciting four-stop Florida Swing, headlined by the PLAYERS Championship, the PGA Tour now heads to Texas for the annual WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, the only head-to-head competition on the schedule.

Featuring 64 of the world’s best golfers (the entire field is ranked inside the world’s top 69), the Match Play is composed of five jam-packed days of elite-level match play golf.

Contested at Austin Country Club in the Lone Star State’s capital city, the tournament offers dramatic showdowns, exciting storylines, and maybe best of all – an insurance policy for those March Madness office squares that may not pan out.

Reigning FedExCup champion Dustin Johnson, newly-minted PLAYERS champion Justin Thomas, 4-time major winner Rory McIlroy, former Texas Longhorn Jordan Spieth and defending champion Kevin Kisner are among the notables returning to Austin.


WGC-Dell Match Play

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The Skinny

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
Dates: Mar 24-28, 2021
Where:Austin, Texas
Course: Austin Country Club
Distance: Par 71, 7,108 yards
Architect: Pete Dye
Format: Match play
Field: Top 64 Ranked OWGR
Purse: $10,250,000
Winning Share: $1,820,000
FedExCup/OWGR Pts: 600/76
Defending Champion: Kevin Kisner (2019)


How to Follow

TELEVISION: Wed-Fri: 02:00 p.m.-8 p.m. (GOLF); Sat-Sun: 10:00 a.m.-2 p.m. (GOLF), 02:00 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC)

PGA TOUR LIVE: Wed-Fri: 10:15 a.m.-8 p.m. (Groups); Sat: 9:45 a.m.-2 p.m. (Groups); Sun: 9:45 a.m.–2 p.m. (Holes)
Watch on Prime Video

PGA TOUR RADIO: Wed-Fri: 2-8 p.m.; Sat: 10:00 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun: 11:00 a.m.-6 p.m.
(PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com/liveaudio)

LINKS: Official Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


Event History

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods talks with caddie Joe LaCava during round two of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at Ritz-Carlton GC on Feb 23, 2012 in Marana, AZ. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

While match play tournaments have a lengthy history on the PGA Tour – even outside of the Ryder and Presidents Cups, the WGC-Dell Match Play is currently the only regular match play event on Tour.

Debuting in 1999, the same year the World Golf Championships series started, the inaugural event was won by Jeff Maggert, a 6 seed in his pool, who impressively knocked off the gauntlet of Fred Funk, Nick Price, Bernhard Langer, Tiger Woods, and Steve Pate – before outdueling Andrew Magee in a marathon finale that required 38 holes (the 36-hole final plus two sudden-death holes) to complete.

In its 19 previous editions, the tournament has produced one three-time champion (Tiger Woods), and a pair of two-time winners (Geoff Ogilvy, Jason Day). Tiger had perhaps the most impressive victory in tournament history, when he obliterated Stewart Cink 8&7 in the 2008 Finals.

From 1999-2014, the tournament was a strict straightforward single-elimination bracket, with four regions composed of players seeded 1-16. In 2015, the event was reformatted, and now contains 16 pools of round-robin, before the 16 pool winners are reseeded by world rankings and go head to head in a single-elimination bracket.

History: Recent Champs

2019: Kevin Kisner 3-2 (Matt Kuchar)
2018: Bubba Watson 7-6 (Kevin Kisner)
2017: Dustin Johnson 1 up (Jon Rahm)
2016: Jason Day 5-4 (Louis Oosthuizen)
2015: Rory McIlroy 4-2 (Gary Woodland)
2014: Jason Day 1 up (Victor Dubuisson)
2013: Matt Kuchar 2-1 (Hunter Mahan)
2012: Hunter Mahan 2-1 (Rory McIlroy)
2011: Luke Donald 3-2 (Martin Kaymer)

History: Records
  • Wins: 3 (Tiger Woods – 2003-04, 2008)
  • Consecutive Matches Won: 13 (Woods – 2003-2005)
  • Largest Winning Margin (Final): 8 & 7 (Woods over Stewart Cink – 2008)
  • Largest Winning Margin (Other): 9 & 8 (Woods over Stephen Ames – 2006)

Defending Champion

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

One year removed from getting absolutely obliterated by Bubba Watson in the championship match of the 2018 WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play, Kevin Kisner mowed down a gauntlet of PGA Tour elites on his way back to the championship match, but this time, the resilient 35-year-old defeated two-time 2019 PGA Tour winner and former Match Play Champion Matt Kuchar by a 3&2 score.

Kisner’s day, which ended with his third career PGA Tour victory, began in impressive fashion when he shockingly defeated the red-hot reigning Open Champion Francesco Molinari in the semi-finals, 1-up.

Kuchar joined Kisner in the championship match by nipping breakout star Lucas Bjerregaard, the Dane who upset Tiger Woods in the quarterfinal, 1-up, in the other semi-final match.

Kisner started the week with a blip, losing his first match in group play, 2-up, to Ian Poulter – one of the best match-play golfers of all-time. But then went 6-0 the rest of the week to claim his first WGC title.

On his way, he knocked off Tony Finau and Keith Mitchell to finish group play, got the better of Poulter in a sudden-death tiebreaker to advance to the Final 16 bracket, where he dominated Haotong Li before knocking off Louis Oosthuizen in the quarterfinals.

Then came the semi-final victory over Molinari and the championship triumph over Kuchar.

“I was thinking out there it might be the hardest one just because you have the physical aspect more than any other week,” Kisner told the Golf Channel immediately following his victory.

“It was grueling, definitely with the winds, the temperature today. Overall it was a long week, but I prevailed… and World Golf champion.”

Final-4 Results

Semi-Final Matches
Matt Kuchar (23) 1-UP over Lucas Bjerregaard (50)
Kevin Kisner (48) 1-UP over Francesco Molinari (7)
Third-Place Match
Francesco Molinari (7) 4&2 over Lucas Bjerregaard (50)
Championship Match
Kevin Kisner (48) 3&2 over Matt Kuchar (23)
(Brackets) denotes world ranking.


The Field

Kevin Kisner
Kevin Kisner tees off on the 3rd hole during the championship match of the WGC-Dell Match Play on Mar 31, 2019 at Austin CC in Austin, TX. Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the current format, the top 64 players in the world as of March 15, 2021 qualify. Players who qualified but will not compete include Brooks Koepka (No. 12), Adam Scott (No. 25), Justin Rose (38), Tiger Woods (56), and Gary Woodland (51). Their replacements were: Ian Poulter (65), Erik van Rooyen (66), Adam Long (67), J.T. Poston (68), and Dylan Frittelli (69)

The players will be placed into one of four (4) pools, according to where they rank in the field, based on Official World Golf Rankings, as of Sunday evening, March 21.

  • Field Rank Nos. 01-16 (Pool A)
  • Field Rank Nos. 17-32 (Pool B)
  • Field Rank Nos. 33-48 (Pool C)
  • Field Rank Nos. 49-64 (Pool D)

Once the four pools are set, 16 groups will be formed – each comprised of one player from each of the four pools with Pool A (Nos. 1-16) players each heading one of the 16 groups.

A random selection will take place then to fill up each of the 16 groups with a B player (ranked 17-32), a C player (ranked 33-48) and a D player (ranked 49-64). For example, No. 1 Dustin Johnson will be in a group with one player from Pool B, one from Pool C, and one from Pool D, and so on.

The selections will be unveiled live on PGA Tour digital platforms Monday, March 22 at 10 a.m. (CT).

Ben Crenshaw
Ben Crenshaw watches as Steve Rintoul with the PGA TOUR collects the names of players during the Golf Channel pairings telecast for the WGC – Dell Match Play at Austin CC on Mar 20, 2017 in Austin, TX. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

WGC-Match Play: The 4 Pools

Pool A (1-16)

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
1. Dustin Johnson (1)
2. Justin Thomas (2)
3. Jon Rahm (3)
4. Collin Morikawa (4)
5. Bryson DeChambeau (5)
6. Xander Schauffele (6)
7. Patrick Reed (7)
8. Tyrrell Hatton (8)
9. Webb Simpson (9)
10. Patrick Cantlay (10)
11. Rory McIlroy (11)
12. Tony Finau (13)
13. Viktor Hovland (14)
14. Daniel Berger (15)
15. Matt Fitzpatrick (16)
16. Sungjae Im (17)

Pool B (17-32)

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
17. Paul Casey (18)
18. Lee Westwood (19)
19. Harris English (20)
20. Matthew Wolff (21)
21. Tommy Fleetwood (22)
22. Louis Oosthuizen (23)
23. Hideki Matsuyama (24)
24. Ryan Palmer (26)
25. Cameron Smith (27)
26. Joaquin Niemann (28)
27. Abraham Ancer (29)
28. Kevin Na (30)
29. Jason Kokrak (31)
30. Scottie Scheffler (32)
31. Victor Perez (33)
32. Billy Horschel (34)

Pool C (33-48)

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
33. Christiaan Bezuidenhout (35)
34. Kevin Kisner (36)
35. Max Homa (37)
36. Marc Leishman (39)
38. Corey Conners (40)
37. Shane Lowry (41)
39. Sergio Garcia (42)
40. Will Zalatoris (43)
41. Robert MacIntyre (44)
42. Carlos Ortiz (45)
43. Bernd Wiesberger (46)
44. Jason Day (47)
45. Si Woo Kim (48)
46. Lanto Griffin (50)
47. Brendon Todd (51)
48. Mackenzie Hughes (53)

Pool D (49-64)

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
49. Jordan Spieth (54)
50. Russell Henley (55)
51. Matt Wallace (56)
52. Matt Kuchar (57)
53. Kevin Streelman (58)
54. Brian Harman (59)
55. Bubba Watson (60)
56. Sebastián Muñoz (62)
57. Andy Sullivan (63)
58. Antoine Rozner (64)
59. Talor Gooch (65)
60. Ian Poulter (66)
61. Adam Long (67)
62. Frederick van Rooyen (68)
63. J.T. Poston (70)
64. Dylan Frittelli (71)

WGC-Match Play: The 16 Groups

Group 1

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
1. Dustin Johnson (1)
28. Kevin Na (30)
41. Robert MacIntyre (44)
61. Adam Long (67)

Group 2

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
2. Justin Thomas (2)
22. Louis Oosthuizen (23)
34. Kevin Kisner (36)
52. Matt Kuchar (57)

Group 3

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
3. Jon Rahm (3)
24. Ryan Palmer (26)
37. Shane Lowry (41)
56. Sebastián Muñoz (62)

Group 4

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
4. Collin Morikawa (4)
32. Billy Horschel (34)
35. Max Homa (37)
63. J.T. Poston (70)

Group 5

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
5. Bryson DeChambeau (5)
18. Lee Westwood (19)
45. Si Woo Kim (48)
58. Antoine Rozner (64)

Group 6

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
6. Xander Schauffele (6)
30. Scottie Scheffler (32)
44. Jason Day (47)
57. Andy Sullivan (63)

Group 7

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
7. Patrick Reed (7)
26. Joaquin Niemann (28)
34. Kevin Kisner (36)
55. Bubba Watson (60)

Group 8

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
8. Tyrrell Hatton (8)
18. Lee Westwood (19)
39. Sergio Garcia (42)
51. Matt Wallace (56)

Group 9

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
9. Webb Simpson (9)
17. Paul Casey (18)
48. Mackenzie Hughes (53)
59. Talor Gooch (65)

Group 10

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
10. Patrick Cantlay (10)
23. Hideki Matsuyama (24)
42. Carlos Ortiz (45)
54. Brian Harman (59)

Group 11

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
11. Rory McIlroy (11)
25. Cameron Smith (27)
46. Lanto Griffin (50)
60. Ian Poulter (66)

Group 12

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
12. Tony Finau (13)
29. Jason Kokrak (31)
40. Will Zalatoris (43)
64. Dylan Frittelli (71)

Group 13

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
13. Viktor Hovland (14)
27. Abraham Ancer (29)
43. Bernd Wiesberger (46)
53. Kevin Streelman (58)

Group 14

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
14. Daniel Berger (15)
19. Harris English (20)
47. Brendon Todd (51)
62. Frederick van Rooyen (68)

Group 15

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
15. Matt Fitzpatrick (16)
20. Matthew Wolff (21)
38. Corey Conners (40)
49. Jordan Spieth (54)

Group 16

Field Rank-Player (World Rank)
16. Sungjae Im (17)
31. Victor Perez (33)
36. Marc Leishman (39)
61. Adam Long (67)

WGC-Match Play: The Brackets

WGC-Dell Match Play Brackets
The brackets for the 2021 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

This tournament preview will be updated with brackets, rankings, odds and more as soon as the PGA Tour completes its draw (live at 11am on Monday).


Carey Hoffman contributed to this report.



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