We really are into the teeth of the golf season now. It’s wall to wall world class tournaments pretty much from now until the end of the summer, including this week’s WGC Dell Match Play.
The second WGC event of 2017 pits together many of the world’s best players in a rare match play format. The players have all been drawn into groups which will play out as round robins. Each of the 64 competitors play a round each on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before the winner of the group progresses into a straight knockout format.
Just like last year, the action takes place around Austin Country Club. The par 71 layout measures a little over 7,000 yards so is far from the longest test this calibre of player will face. The nature of the Pete Dye design means it favours the best shot makers. The greens are relatively small so those who can shape the ball both ways and get their approach shots to land nice and close will have a real advantage. That said, big hitting Jason Day won last season and Rory McIlroy made it to the semis and good putters should always be taken into account in match play.
Slow Start Shouldn’t Hinder Rory
Rory McIlroy has made an impressive return after the rib injury which kept him out for a number of weeks. The Northern Irishman finished strongly at both WGC Mexico and last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational but he’d just left himself too much to do with a slow star. That should be much less of an issue at Austin Country Club.
McIlroy gets his tournament underway with a very winnable match against Soren Kjeldsen and from then on he should find his rhythm which is bad news for the competition. He’s got a very strong match play record in some of the biggest events in the world and has put the work in in order to peak for the Masters which is just around the corner. At odds of 7/1 with Ladbrokes, McIlroy has a great chance to claim his third WGC win.
Spieth Can Putt His Way to Glory
The WGC Match Play is not the tournament to look for a long odds outsider to come through the pack. Rafa Cabrera Bello surprised everyone in making it to the semi finals last year but generally the cream rises to the top when this calibre of player go head to head.
Therefore, it makes sense to expect a big week from Jordan Spieth. He plays a lot of golf in the local area, will get a huge amount of support and has a decent match play record with wins in over half of his matches. Spieth’s ball striking and shot making are much improved from last year and his putting always keeps him in contention so back him at 12/1 with Coral.
Noren the One to Chance
If you are looking for somebody to come through and surprise this week, Alex Noren could be your man. The Swede is a natural born winner and works unbelievably hard to keep getting better. In his second WGC Match Play, Noren could impress at 66/1 with Betfred.